Crime And Justice Needed for a Normal Society

Food for Thought: 

Durkheim’s sociology of law proposes that crime is a normal part of society, and that it is necessary and indispensable. What does this mean? Is Durkheim correct? Discuss, with reference to contemporary examples

Durkheim recognizes crime as being important to the well-being of society and suggests that challenges to established moral and legal laws act to bring together those that were not in opposition to the laws in other words the people who are not breaking laws come together as a collective force. He believes that society needs crime to function normally. Crime reinforces bonds between the general law abiding citizens . His theory states that there needs to be the perfect balance for crime too little would end the interaction of the public for solving problems and too much would lead to  a chaotic society. When there is good balance society is able to come together to create an interaction leading to solutions to problems. He states that “crime is important for the well-being of society because when people join together in a common purpose  that collectively constraining g force is greater than any one individual” (Pavlich,2011).

For Durkheim society needs crime and society needs justice therefore without crime we would not be able to witness this need for justice which ‘involves organizing the consciousness, rituals, and moral frameworks that compromise collective being in society in ways that promote fairness, meritocracies, and forms of social life based on equity of opportunity” (Pavlich, 2011). in other words Durkheim is saying that if we did not have crime society would not be able to learn what justice is and how everyone needs to treated fairly. Society has many rules for how one is sup[posed to act and behave and the needs to bring justice to people who are not following laws is just as important as crime existing in the first place.

As I was thinking about examples of how crime is needed for any normal society I remembered something one of my criminology professors pointed out. He was telling as how many police agencies especially in the United States do not receive much money from the government therefore they have to rely heavily on the money that comes from ticketing people. they need money to keep their agencies running therefore they need people to break the law so that they can receive money from these people so in turn they have money within their agencies for more important issues. it is funny to think that these police agencies almost want people to break the law so that they know they will have funds. But then that makes me question how valid the tickets issued are, did people actually break a law or did the police officers fabricate reasons to give people tickets.


Pavlich, G. (2011). Law & Society Redefined. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press.


1 Comment

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One response to “Crime And Justice Needed for a Normal Society

  1. Interesting post.

    You have provided a clear and effective overview of Pavlich’s summary of Durkheim’s contribution to the sociology of law.

    Regarding your discussion of the benefits police derive from ticketing:

    It is true that some public police organizations are comparatively under-funded. Consider the current situation in Camden, New Jersey:

    It is also true that revenue from fees collected is sometimes directed into police coffers, which, as you note, provides a profit incentive for the issuance of fines and penalties. The vast majority of public police funding comes from public budgets (federal, municipal, or provincial / state), though. In many cities, the largest single portion of the municipal budget goes to policing, and this is why police budget allocations are always contentious political affairs:–toronto-s-police-chief-wants-to-end-hiring-freeze .

    The broader scenario you present is absolutely valid – police organizations (and other agencies dependent upon the legal system) require a certain level of crime to justify their existence (criminologists too!). Nils Christie explores this issue in his book ‘Crime Control as Industry’, and it is a recurring theme in political-economic analyses of policing and security policy.

    However, I think it is fair to say that this sort of equation, where crime acts as the ‘raw material’ for an industry with a profit motive, is not what Durkheim had in mind when he proposed that crime is both inevitable and necessary. He was referring to the opportunities for norm clarification afforded by responses to crime.

    Later theorists – political economists informed by Marx and proponents of the Critical Legal Studies movement – focused on the ‘who benefits from this?’ question that you raise.