Sociology has the answer: part III- Is crime pathological or normal?


I need to admit that I loved history at school. Among many favorite lessons included in the curriculum, we also had the chance to learn about the two World Wars and the impact they had in the history of the whole world. But by far one of the most touching moments for me was the Holocaust one where almost six millions of people died. According to history Hitler was the one who has decided to create such a massive massacre. I even had the chance once to meet some survivors of Auschwitz who lost their families in the camp and their narrations were really impressive. There are many stories that follow these acts of crime. For instance people were forced to work while many of them were killed in the gas chamber. If a person would manage to escape, random people were killed for the others to know how to have fear of the authority of the camp. Children were separated by their mothers while there are even other stories that tell that people were killed and then used to create soaps or boots. From my point of view this moment of history was not a normal one. I always thought that those people were innocent and there was no reason to create such a massacre just because a dictator had a certain problem with them. But this could be the influence of the story and the way in which is told. Even while watching movies related to Auschwitz or Holocaust such as “The Schindler`s list” or “The boy in stripped pajamas” I burst into tears while thinking about the fate of those people. Today people consider crime as an abnormal thing and we use to judge the ones who kill or make harm. But if you wonder what sociology says about crime, well, things are quite different.

Therefore Emile Durkheim is a theorist who states the difference between normal and the pathological. This means that pathological means disease or something that is not normal. But when it comes about crime he has a quite opposite behavior regarding people who state that this is not a normal act. In fact Durkheim says that crime needs to be seen as something functional and quite necessary for a society. That is because, in his vision, crime seems to be present in time and space. Taking into consideration these aspects, for sure crime is omnipresent from the beginning of the world until nowadays. This is how he states that once crime is so present in our lives it should be something normal for us. Durkheim continues with strong arguments according to which crime accomplished a functional principle within a society. This means that once authorities punish a person who had committed a crime, the whole society reconfirms its own values. On the same time he places crime as a culturally relative issue and not as a universal issue. He emphasizes the idea that a crime is not something that is fundamentally wrong but it is something that would offend the values of a society. In other words, society punishes acts of crimes for its own values and not for the bad behavior of a person. This is a quite different theory rather than the one that most of us know. Crime is something bad as people are punished. But on the same time we appreciated authorities when they catch a thief or a possible dangerous person such as a stalker.

Even though Durkheim has his own theory about crime, I still believe that in the context of an evolutional world, crime is not something normal. Think about a boyfriend who kills his girlfriend just because he was jealous. Also innocent people do not have to pay with their lives because another person has a certain belief or a vengeance desire. Consequences need to be implied too. There are situations when crimes leave behind alone little children or people with deep scars in their heart as the survivors of Holocaust I have met with.

Written by Molnar Crina



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