Written by: Timothy Sonniah

In every society, several rules govern the people depending on the traditions, beliefs, and norms of the people. Violation of these sets of standards or expectations is known as deviance. For instance, when a Muslim eats pork, he or she is said to have committed deviance.

On the other hand, crime is a deviation of the set of rules and protocols, which are formals. These are rules set by the government for the people to maintain order in any county (Hall, 2012). A person acts contrary to these rules; he/she has committed a crime punishable by the law. For example, killing a person is a crime in any nation and is punishable through the set.


Functionalism aspect of crime

Among the significant theories in sociology regarding corruption is the method of functionalism. According to its founder Durkheim, sin is an essential part of any community and is quite necessary. Instead of analyzing crime from an individual perspective by focusing on the offender, this theory focuses on analyzing the city in general to understand the crime (Greenberg, 2020). The argument has three significant aspects which are;

  1. Controlled numbers of crime are necessary and inevitable in any society.

2. A crime has benefits at times.

3. Too much crime could prove lethal to society.

For instance, discrimination against a person’s skin color is a form of crime as there are several laws set by the government, which is against such actions. Such cases often occur in society as individuals with different descent tend to treat each other differently. Discrimination or harassment because of one’s sexual orientation is another form of crime that follows the functionalism aspect of sociological theories.

Conflict theory

Unlike the functionalist theory, which views crime as a necessity that is also beneficial to society, the conflict theory does not perceive corruption as a crucial component in the community. The method associates deviance and crime in society to different economic and social factors. The theory suggests that crimes and deviance serve as proof of the inequality in the system governing the people (Zembroski, 2011).

Karl says there is a significant relationship between the intersection of wealth and power and crime and deviance in society. The conflict theory views society as the struggle for control by different individuals conflicting over limited resources, which in this case, the wealthy always get what they want.

According to the theory, the average individuals or the working class category are more likely to commit ordinary crimes such as robbery and assault; white the wealthy tend to commit white-collar crimes such as embezzlement of public resources. Individuals involved in street crime get arrested quickly, which is not the case for the wealthy people in the society who get involved in white-collar crimes.

For instance, an average person may be arrested for burglary and sentenced while a wealthy person involved in the embezzlement of public resources goes free.

Symbolic interactionism

Symbolic interactionism perceives society as a result of the daily interactions amongst the people. The theory suggests that individuals learn their deviant behaviors from the community and, in particular, the people they interact with (Bittle, Snider, & Whyte, 2018). For instance, living in a neighborhood when people walk free after committing crimes such as rape, there is a likelihood for a child to grow up and become a rapist; this is deviant behavior he or she has gained from the community. 

The conflict theory explains best most of the crimes in the current society. The economic disparity between the rich and the poor had increased significantly over the years. And it is unfortunate that wealthy people in the community keep embezzling public resources and walk free while the poor in society get punished for simple crimes such as burglary.


Bittle, S., Snider, L., Tombs, S., & Whyte, D. (Eds. (2018). Revisiting crimes of the powerful: Marxism, crime, and deviance. Routledge.

Greenberg, D. (2020). Crime And Capitalism: Readings in Marxist Criminology. Temple University Press.

Hall, S. (2012). Theorizing crime and deviance: A new perspective. Sage.

Zembroski, D. (2011). Sociological theories of crime and delinquency. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 21(3), 240-254.