Every normal society has crime deeply rooted in its DNA.

I agree with Emile Durkheim that crime is a normal part of any society. Durkheim stated, “without crime…there can be no sense of what is normal and what is not” (Pavlich 2011, 80). Any given society has some sort of crime and will continue to have for as long as that society exists. What constitutes crime differs from one society to another. For example, possession of marijuana might be considered a crime in some countries, but it is completely normal in other countries. Also, like Durkheim said, without crime we would not be able to differentiate right from wrong or what is normal and what is abnormal. In other words, there would be no difference between right and wrong which is the absolute necessary part for any society to function. The way how a person might view a crime seem to be closely related to how the society in general views it. Like I mentioned in the class, the society shapes its members and their perceptions in general. Personally, if I was still living back home,  I would have never thought of bullying as wrong because no one talks about it and no one educates people about it.

Durkheim stated that, “ A differentiated division of labour in fact strengthens society because socially produced individuals depend on the specialized tasks performed by others to survive. There is, as such, greater functional interdependence between individuals in complex modern society”( Pavlich 2011, 76). Crime creates job opportunities in any given society( think police, fire fighters, ambulance)  and it also brings communities together through programs and initiatives like community policing. Because of crime, the members of society come together and depend on each other in providing safety. The Norman conquest of England in 1066 gave rise to an obligatory form of avocational citizen policing (Klockars, 1985). The “watch and ward” and “ hue and cry” ideas were codified in 1285 in the Statutes of Winchester (Klockars, 1985). This clearly show that crime was always part of any society and it created certain sense of interdependence in communities.


Klockars, C.B.(1985). The Idea of Police. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage

Pavlich, G. (2011). Law & Society Redefined. Toronto: Oxford University Press.



1 Comment

by | October 22, 2012 · 5:48 am

One response to “Every normal society has crime deeply rooted in its DNA.

  1. Good post!

    You note that: “For example, possession of marijuana might be considered a crime in some countries, but it is completely normal in other countries.”

    This is absolutely correct. But the issue becomes a bit more complicated when you start to look at how drug policy is crafted – and particularly at the role of transnational influences. The United States, for example, has played an active role in the shaping of drug policies in other countries, and in exporting an American ‘war on drugs’ policy framework. International influences can play as large – or larger – a role in the crafting of drug policy as the sentiments of a local public. How would Durkheim make sense of this?

    You have raised the issue of crime’s function as a generator of work. This is an important concept. Do you think that the function of crime control as industry is distinct form the function of crime control as a mechanism for social solidarity?