Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Durkheim and Crime

not only that the way remains open to necessary change, but that in certain cases it directly proposes these changes... crime [can thus be] a useful prelude to reforms."

I think this quote refers to social change in a sense. I think what Durkheim is saying is not necessarily about crime per se, but more about deviating from the social norm. If enough people do the same thing over and over than eventually it will become part of the norm. The example that comes to mind would be the decriminalization of medical marijuana in New Mexico. Most people, some not all, see smoking marijuana as a crime. But, are the people who are going through chemothereapy or who are suffering from glaucoma committing a crime when they use medicinal marijuana to ease their ailments? They are not smoking for recreational use they are smoking because they have found it eases their pain. People kept on doing this and doctors kept prescribing it eventually it became legal. There was a change that was made. Soon after other states began to legalize medical marijuana. Another example that was given in class was the subject of gay marriage. Gay people are choosing to get married and some churches are allowing them to. Their marriage is recognized in the eyes of God, but their marraige is not recognized by the states. Eventually according to Durkheim this act of gay people getting married will bring about change and it will become legal. My question is, are there other acts of deviating from the norm that will eventually be a prelude to change and reform in today's society?


  1. I think that it is true that once enough people begin to do something, it becomes the norm. Even if the action being done is a crime or severely frowned upon by the society, it becomes the norm once enough people do it. I think what happens is that once enough people start doing it, others conform to it and it is no longer considered to be outside the norms. Conformity is such a powerful factor in controlling how people behave that it does have a strong effect on changing societal norms. For example, underage drinking is illegal but everyone knows that most teens still drink and parents also know. Now, it is almost outside the norm to come across a teen that has not had alcohol before turning 21.

  2. One thing I can think of in this time that might have the impact of change and reform is the use of text messaging. More and more people are considering texting to calling or emailing. I’m not just referring to the young crowd, but more and more I experience everyone texting. I wouldn’t doubt it if the next generation of cell phones will be considered text phones. Kind of like a beeper, but more for communication. People I know rather text each other than calling. It makes it much easier to talk between people.