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“The Functions of Crime” by Emile Durkheim Essay


In the article “The Functions of Crime”, Emile Durkheim argues clearly that crime should be treated and analyzed as a normal aspect of a given society. This happens to be the case because crime remains a classical phenomenon of every functional community. Although crime is inevitable, it is a factor that characterizes every health society. According to Emile Durkheim, crime is a norm in every society (Durkheim 136). Many communities across the globe have found it impossible to do away with the crime. This fact explains why crime is “evident not in the majority of societies of one particular species but in all societies of all types” (Durkheim 136). Throughout the centuries, men have acted against the existing laws. When new laws emerge, the nature of crime is observed to change accordingly. Every society will, therefore, record different forms of crime despite the nature of laws or policies implemented to deal with them. With this knowledge, the article acknowledges that crime should be classified as one of the trends of typical sociology. Durkheim goes further to explain why the criminal plays a critical role in every aspect of social life.

The other outstanding issue is that a society devoid of crime is impossible. In order to support this fact, Durkheim uses the example of a society comprised of saints only. When such a society is established, faults and acts that deviate from the expectations of the other saints will emerge. Consequently, the saints will formulate new laws to punish such faults. This explanation echoes the developments experienced in every society across the globe. It is also notable that crime changes in accordance with the existing aspects of social life when the laws in a given community evolve. Durkheim indicates that “the better a structure is articulated, the more it offers a healthy resistance to all modification” (Durkheim 138). This argument shows conclusively that a society that works hard to eliminate crime will never realize its goals. This happens to be the case because crime is an integral attribute of society. It is, therefore, agreeable that human crime evolves and changes depending on the patterns of the community.

Societies usually evolve depending on the changes experienced by its people. This kind of evolution is characterized by functional changes and consequences. Durkheim believes strongly that there are functional consequences of deviance and crime. According to the philosopher, crime reshapes the wave of societal evolution. The occurrence of crime, therefore, results in collective sentiments aimed at addressing the issue. With these notions regarding the issue of crime, societies focus on the best ways to redefine morality. The criminal is, therefore, a social being that is parasitic in nature (Durkheim 138). The scandalous person is present in the society in order to dictate the laws, policies, and moral values that govern it. The definite role of the criminal in social life is something that cannot be ignored. Deviance (and crime) is something functional and exists in societies to establish ethical or moral boundaries (Durkheim 138). The occurrence of crime plays a major role towards establishing who disobeys the existing social norms or laws. This knowledge can guide societies to implement new legal frameworks or policies. Such guidelines will eventually play an important role towards improving the welfare of the greatest majority.

Work Cited

Durkheim, Emile. “The Functions of Crime.” Deviance, vol. 1, no. 1, 2010, pp. 136-138.

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IvyPanda. (2020, September 8). "The Functions of Crime" by Emile Durkheim. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-functions-of-crime-by-emile-durkheim/

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""The Functions of Crime" by Emile Durkheim." IvyPanda, 8 Sept. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/the-functions-of-crime-by-emile-durkheim/.

1. IvyPanda. ""The Functions of Crime" by Emile Durkheim." September 8, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-functions-of-crime-by-emile-durkheim/.


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IvyPanda. 2020. ""The Functions of Crime" by Emile Durkheim." September 8, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-functions-of-crime-by-emile-durkheim/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) '"The Functions of Crime" by Emile Durkheim'. 8 September.

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