The Social Function of Crime (Blog #2)

Crime is a word that in our everyday life has a negative connotation, but Durkheim believed crime is an integral part of all healthy societies. Durkheim described crime as an act that offends certain very strong collective sentiments. He said that crime was not the intrinsic quality of an act, but the definition given by the “collective conscience” of society. Therefore are not what you do that matters, but how society sees your acts. Durkheim believed that crime was essential to form change; therefore it should not be conceived as an evil to be suppressed. A healthy society has crime, which allows for flexibility and easier accommodation to political and economic change. Many of the acts that were seen as crime are now admirable. For example Socrates was killed because of his teaching but they later on served as a ground for morality. Many strikes and riots where seen as crime but they brought forth the ideas and serve as ground for growth in society. A concept that is seen so negatively in society, Durkheim explained it in a way which makes it more acceptable to society.


4 responses to “The Social Function of Crime (Blog #2)

  1. Great post about crime! You explained Durkheim’s ideas thoroughly. I find Durkheim’s theory on crime interesting because I never looked at it through a positive lens. Understanding collective consciousness helps identify why Durkheim believed it was not the act itself that made something a crime. It also explains why different communities may view something as a crime, and others do not. As for the idea that crime is good because it allows change I agree and disagree. I agree in a way because for example gay marriage was illegal but as society changed their views, states are beginning to legalize gay marriage. On the other hand, it’s sad that it takes crime such as a person shooting a school, to get communities alert about gun violence, and began to think about restricting gun licenses.

  2. Excellent presentation of Durkheim’s theory of crime, Y. The fundamental point is that all functioning societies have crime. To your comment, M, it’s important to clarify that Durkheim’s isn’t a moral argument — he doesn’t actually say crime is “good,” only that it has a function.

  3. So in another word to add to Ms. Hala comment crime is not a good thing but crime can serve to establish order. just like we say we learn from our mistakes or trial an error.

  4. As mentioned in the previous comments, crime is good and does serve its purpose in society as a function. However for serious crimes, the moral boundaries are becoming too elastic as society increases its tolerance. People are no longer surprised by outrageous violence. This theory needs to be updated to fit modern day society.

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