Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Durkheim and Crime

"Imagine a society of saints, a perfect cloister of exemplary individuals. Crimes, properly so called, will there be unknown, but faults which appear venial to the layman will create there the same scandal that the ordinary offense does in ordinary consciousness. If, then, this society has the power to judge and punish, it will define these acts as criminal and will treat them as such." (Durkheim, The Rules of Sociological Method)

Durkheim indicates that crimes is a function not of criminal intent, but of the variation of individual moral and ethic codes from a mainstream agreement as to proper actions. In modern society, the range of individual behavior and accordingly their moral and ethic codes continues to grow. The internet has helped foster further variation in behavior due to the ability to find other people of similar ideas, reducing the pressure to be like the "mainstream."

If Durkheim is right, and the current trend towards further individuality continues, then the range and amount of criminal activity should continue to increase for years to come. Do you agree or disagree with this statement, and why?

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