Theories Of Criminal Deviance Essay

Crime and Deviance is Normal in Society Essay

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Crime and Deviance is Normal in Society

Is crime an abnormal act committed by an abnormal person? Most persons confronted with this particular question would undoubtedly say, ¡§Yes¡¨. They would consider themselves, perhaps not angelic, but certainly law-abiding members of society. However, if these, law-abiding citizens were to focus on the question, their answer might be very different. They might discover that the gene of criminality is in us all. Crime and deviance is not only a normal part of society, it is undoubtedly a product of its very existence.
Through the work of great individuals such as Durkheim and Merton, who thought at great length about the question, and used a variety of theories to explain their subsequent answers.…show more content…

In accordance with Marxist theory, it is the views of the powerful that dominate, as they have the ability to make their views prevail. It would then appear that what constitutes a crime is open to debate; moreover, the criminals who we choose to despise, are they no more than mere victims of our own perceptions. Our own social conditioning? To see why this is, we must look to the very basis of society and how it decides what is right or wrong.

„« Physiological theories

Cesare Lombroso, an Italian army doctor, is considered by many as the founder of the scientific school of criminology, drew physiological conclusions. Lombroso¡¦s infamous work, L¡¦Uomo Delinquents (1876), first developed the idea of the atavistic criminal. Atavism, a term originally used by Charles Darwin, suggests that in the process of human evolution some individuals can represent a genetic ¡¨throwback¡¨. Utilizing this idea, Lombroso debated that the criminal individual was born so. Physical indication of criminal potential could be identified through specific bodily characteristics, all of which suggested the bearer was a throwback from a more primitive age. These physical characteristics included abnormal teeth, extra nipples, extra or missing toes and fingers, large ears and an overly prominent jawbone. Later research however, found no support for Lombroso¡¦s ideas.

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Introduction: Consensus Theory the Basics!

According to consensus theories, for the most part society works because most people are successfully socialised into shared values through the family and education. Socialisation produces agreement or consensus between people about appropriate behaviour and beliefs without which no human could survive. According to consensus theorists this process starts from a young age in the family and education. These institutions enforce what are known as positive and negative sanctions, or rewarding good behaviour and punishing bad behaviour. Both of these institutions perform the function of social control, and this is a good thing for both the individual and society.

Complete the table below using your own examples.


Positive Sanctions (rewards)

Negative sanctions (punishments)

Examples of Norms and Values enforced



Consensus Theories argue that a ‘healthy society’ is one characterised by a high degree of value consensus – or general agreement around shared values. They see stable institutions such as the nuclear family and education as crucial for socialisation children into these shared norms and values. True, individual freedom is reduced in such a situation, but this is seen as a good thing for society in general, and also for the individual.

From this perspective, crime is generally seen as dysfunctional (bad for society): Crime is a result of a family, or a part of society failing in its duty to effectively socialise the young and individuals or groups becoming detached from society in some way.

There are several different theories within Consensus Theory you need to know about, but the main ones are Functionalism, Bonds of Attachment/ Social Control Theory, Strain Theory, Subcultural Theory, and Underclass Theory. 

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