Sociology and The Law. What is Law?. A system of rules and guidelines created and enforced by a common authoritative power. Laws are meant to control or change behavior.
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Functionalists mainly study how crime relates to law, and believe that it is a necessary part of a society.
Crime provides career opportunities for many people (ex: Police, Lawyers, Jail Wardens, Court Workers)
Crime can drive social change, such as in the case of a rising number of juvenile violence cases, possibly providing the creation of new programs to put emphasis on parenting skills, school security, or systematic counselor visits.
If there is too much crime, society is not in a state of well-being, possibly prompting a revolution. After there is new power, new laws would be put in place that society can agree with.
Conflict theorists believe that crime is the act of social and economic forces working with each other.
The criminal justice system is run for profit by the rich and elite, creating laws that benefit the upper class. (ex: Petty crimes sentenced severely, whereas large scale financial and organizational crimes are treated more leniently.)
Middle class citizens tend to side with these changes subconsciously hoping that one day they will reap these benefits.
The victims of the criminal justice system are the lower class, having legal rights diminished or ignored.