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Bryanna Rickards

Professor Jackson-Vann
24 April 2016
Final Paper
Functionalism and Crime
One of the worlds most common problem lately has been many mass shootings and
enormous amount crime around the world. I as an individual, am unbelievably mortified of how
a person or persons can go around and murder, steal, and hurt so many innocent people.
Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, one of the most memorable and unexplainable events in
history. A terrorist attack, killing 2,977 people. Running two planes into the twin towers in New
I remember being only 12 years old sitting in a hotel on family vacation and watching on
the news one of the twin towers fall to the ground. Smoke and dust covered New York City.
People crying and screaming in terror and people fleeing the scene trying to get to safety. Rescue
could not be possible to so many people.
Friday, November 13th 2015, Paris massacre another one of the worse killings since
September 11th. Killing 130 people and hundreds who were injured. Bombing at Stade de
France, shooting at Rue Alibert, shooting at a crowd at BataclanThat doesn't even begin the
many more attacks that happened that night in Paris.
Watching this scene in the comfort of my hotel room on vacation, made me sick to my
stomach, it brought back the memory of 9/11. I cried.
Both of these horrific scenes does not even begin to cover all the murder and smaller
crimes and the hurt that it brings to the world.
In the text Essential of Sociology, Robert Merton, a proponent of functionalism and
main theoretical perspectives in sociology essences of functionalism as the image of society as a
whole being composed of parts that work together. Merton used the term functions to refer to the
beneficial consequences of peoples actions: In contrast, dysfunctions are harmful consequences
of peoples actions.
A great example for functionalism is from Emile Durkheim, the classic functionalist
theorist says that there are three ways for crime to contribute to the social order. First, crime
clarifies moral boundaries and firm norms. By moral boundaries Durkheim refers to a groups

idea about how people should think and act. Second, Crime encourages social unity, Durkheim is
saying that person cant get away with it so the group affirms the rightness of its ways. And lastly,
Crime promotes social change, boundary violations that gain enough support become new
acceptable behaviors. It then may force a group to rethink and define its moral boundaries. These
are all shown as examples below.
John F. Markey, an author and professor of Minnesota University says violence is a
social phenomenon. It influences peoples lives. Even though its hard to understand and wrap
your brain around, there is a reason.(J. Markey) A social understanding of violence can be
related to the social environment. For example, a child grows up in a very unstable, violent
environment. Growing up, he learns that it is ok to hit a woman, its ok to start throwing things,
its ok to belittle and hurt people and that its ok to play the violent video games to kill and
destroy. He doesn't know right from wrong, and those can escalate to even bigger source of
The attacks that I mentioned in New York and Paris, were terrorist attacks. Terrorist
believe that they are doing the world a favor and following their social beliefs of religion. They
believe in a higher power to kill and then sacrifice themselves.
Lastly, it could be mentally. Our world has so many expectations of what perfect or
acceptable is. People with a mental disability may not always understand the worlds view of
life and sometimes anger is aroused of not understanding and it could cause an impulse to
remove whats causing them hate and pain or misunderstanding. Its indescribable of how the
brain of a mentally ill person can work sometimes.
All of these reasons can be related to a dysfunction in that persons life. But it can also be
functional in a society because it is a normal thing that happens in our society.Thinking about
murder, no one can wrap it around there brain as to how someone could do such a thing. But
socially and scientifically, there is a reason. And our society may be influencing it more then we
Works Cited
Markey, John F. "A Mead Project Source Page." John F. Markey: A Redefinition of Social
Phenomena. The Mead Project, 2007. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.
Henslin, James M. "The Functionalist Perspective." Essentials of Sociology: A Down-to-earth
Approach. 10th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2004. 160-64. Print.