Society Challenged by Crime

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.

I agree with Durkheim that crime is a normal part of society; especially in this day and age where it is so prevalent. It is unfortunate that crime is necessary for a society to function; however, as Durkheim stated, crime “preforms important collective functions, such as: reinforcing social norms [and] increasing consensus” (Pavlich, 2011, p. 73).

According to Durkheim, law was viewed as a, “social fact that concretely embodies a society’s morals and norms” (Pavlich, 2011, p. 78). Therefore, crime is also seen as a social fact and is considered to be normal, “because it is both universal and necessary to the functioning of given social types” (Pavlich, 2011, p.79 &80). This quote clearly suggests that, in order for a society to function properly, crime is necessary. Durkheim was concerned with how a society is held together and he suggests that crime ties a society together. Crime is associated to all aspects of social life because if there were no crime, a society would not progress and grow. Because of crime, societies are not static and have evolved. For example, new rules or laws are created because a crime had occurred. If that particular crime had not occurred, the new law would not have been created.

Crime exists in every society and there is no one society in the world that does not have crime. According to Pavlich, law is the product of society; therefore, a law is made when a crime takes place because societies are surrounded by crime and it is unavoidable. Individuals are not a replica of another because everyone has different morals and ethics. Some go on to achieve great things in their lives and have professional careers; while others fall into a life of crime. In my opinion a society is not considered ‘normal’ unless crime is present. There would be no challenges to the laws and judicial decisions if crime were not present. For example, a crime occurs and that individual goes to trial but there maybe a loop hole within the system that exonerates that person. Now the law is challenged and perhaps because of this, new laws will be implemented. Crime and deviance are required for a society to grow and to challenge and to be challenged.


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


1 Comment

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One response to “Society Challenged by Crime

  1. Great overview of Durkheim’s arguments.

    You note that there would be no challenges to the laws and judicial decisions if crime were not present, and then provide the example of a stay of proceedings based on a ‘loop hole’ that gives rise to a tightening of rules.

    This is certainly a plausible scenario, but does it illustrate the point that Durkheim is making about the function of crime and criminal law?