The symbolic interactionist perspective addresses ways in which broad aspects of the society such as institutions influence the social world of individual members (Mooney, Knox & Schacht, 2007). In this perspective, micro elements of society are affected by macro elements that are systemic and more dependent on whole populations. In crime rates, kinds, and distribution, the situation adheres, in a huge way, to the theory. Children who grow up in neighborhoods where lawlessness is tolerated are more likely to follow the same route into a life of lawlessness and criminal activities due to the influence of society (School of Education, 2015).
The functionalist perspective states that the society comprises of parts that are interconnected and harmonize together to create the balance of life (Mooney, Knox & Schacht, 2007). This viewpoint supports the symbolic interactionist views that the individual is part of a greater body that influences and is influenced by their actions. People are more likely to commit crime in areas where crime is tolerated and thus rampant due to the influencing nature of society as a whole.
The conflict theory speculates that society is comprised of sets of people and interest in constant competition for resources. The view is opposite from the other two in that it gives the power of action to the individual and plays down the influence of the society on individual actions. In criminal studies, the theory is supported by the fact that even in areas where crime is rife there are people who do not engage in lawlessness (Matsueda & Heimer, 1995). Similarly, people still break the rules and commit crimes in otherwise peaceful societies.
In conclusion, sociology helps us to explain human actions in terms of our environment, especially that which is composed of our fellow humans. Symbolic interactions and functionalist perspectives advance the theory of man as an organism in a larger body, while conflict theory advances the concept of individual responsibility.
Matsueda R. L. & Heimer K. (1995) A Symbolic Interactionist Theory of Role-Transitions, Role-Commitments, and Delinquency
Mooney, Knox & Schacht. (2007) The Three Main Sociological Perspectives. Understanding Social Problems, 5th edition
School of Education. (2015) Theories and causes of crime. The Scottish Center for Crime & Justice Research
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