The Pros and Cons of Functionalism and Marxism

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The two theoretical approaches I have chosen to compare to the study of crime are Functionalism and Marxism. I have done so, as I believe both theories are important/ significant to the study of crime and differentiate from each other. I will do this by writing a critique the advantages and disadvantages of both of the theories and thus, resulting in my own personal opinion in the conclusion.

Marxism derived from German philosophers Karl Marx (also a political economist/ sociologist) and Friedrich Engels in the middle of the 1800s. ‘Marxism is based on the idea that society is defined by the conflict between the ruling class (Bourgeoisie) and the working class (Proletariat) and these beings the two main classes’ (Hart, 2013). It states that those who have money and power in essence control society, and those without ways and means do not; and are at the mercy of the powerful and wealthy. In addition, Marxism considers the working class inferior to the ruling class as they get paid the lowest kind of pay and are removed from their work and is and exploited by their bosses (e.g. owners of the factory). Marxism also looks at/examines the social structure (structurally) and says that capitalism will ultimately fail (most likely through revolution such as what was seen in France among 1789 and 1799 and in Russia in 1917). In reference to the study of crime, to Marx the law is not something that upholds the interests of everyone but only the ruling class for instance white-collar crime would be encouraged to be ignored. Contrastingly, Functionalism which was first introduced by Emile Durkheim in 1894 and gained momentum in the mid-1900s, and believed that unlike Marxism which is dependent on that of the ruling class in society, e...

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Shields, S. 1975. Functionalism, Darwinism, and the psychology of women. American Psychologist, 30(7) (1935-990X), pp. 739-754. Available at: http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.hope.ac.uk/ehost/detail?sid=3fc226ef-3f32-4b57-9f0c-89acb4bcade1%40sessionmgr111&vid=4&hid=4101&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=pdh&AN=1975-29522-001 [Accessed: 10th Jan 2014].

Sociology at Twynham. 2014. What is functionalism?. [online] Available at: http://sociologytwynham.com/2008/06/08/what-is-functionalism/ [Accessed: 10 Jan 2014].

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