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The Functionalist Theory

The functionalist theory was based on the work of Durkheim, Erikson and Merton and what makes the functionalist different from other theories is that it sees crime and deviance in a positive light.   The functionalists consider deviance a normal part of life and that it has negative and positive effects. They believe that deviance assists people in defining the limits of acceptable social standards and.  Durkheim coined a term Anomie which means sort of destabilized when individual behavior cannot be controlled by society. (Schaefer 166)

Conflict Theory

The conflict theory’s perspective on deviance and crime is quite different from the view adopted by the functionalists. Deviance is defined as being caused due to the conflict between different roles of different members of the society. In addition the laws enacted are also there to protect the powerful people and keep them on top. (Schaefer 169) The conflict theory also assumes that laws are made so that some acts are considered acceptable while others are not as they are perpetuated by the rich and powerful.  For example Marijuana is illegal; however, Cigarettes which are very harmful are legal because big corporations sell them. (Schaefer 170)

The Interactionalist Theory

The Interactionalist approach has more to do with the interrelationships between people and the Interactionalist contend that the social norms and economic conditions which force a person to resort to deviant behaviors. (Schaefer 168)The stress in this theory is on the socially formed excuses and meanings which lead to deviant behavior or according to the labeling theory because of a certain behavior of a group or individual they are labeled deviant.  (Schaefer 169)


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