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What Is Functionalism?
The Functionalist approach also ignores power in society. Marxist and Weberian approaches both agree that there is conflict in society and it is manipulated for the benefit of one group. Crime, law creation and enforcement, is an extension of this. Certain acts are either made illegal or made exempt from detection by the focus of police power so that certain acts or groups of people become the focus of imprisonment for the benefit of one group. Functionalists disagree with this because they believe in value consensus and a collective sentiment in society rather than conflict.
New Criminology criticises the Marxist approach and sounds very much like Merton and other Neo-Functionalist's explanations even though it comes from the new left. New Criminology accepts the statistics and agrees that actions must be taken to remove the causes of crime, i.e. the reasons that people can't succeed in the legitimate opportunity structures, but it shouldn't be violent revolution as suggested by radical criminology. It believes society can be adjusted. This may be providing jobs, better housing, greater leisure facilities etc. It doesn't excuse the individual's actions however and it incorporates interactionist theory in that people understand the definition of the situation so therefore must be accountable for their actions.
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