In sociology, there are a number of different paradigms which researchers use to analyze social phenomena. One prominent paradigm is functionalism, which sees society as a system of interconnected parts that work together to maintain equilibrium. Deviance is a key component of a functional society because it allows for the identification of problems and the implementation of solutions. Deviance also provides a way for people to express their dissatisfaction with the status quo.
Social disorganization theory is a sociological perspective that focuses on the negative consequences of social and economic change on the ability of communities to maintain social order. According to this perspective, the decline in traditional social institutions (e.g., family, religion, education) and the rise in social difficulties (e.g., crime, poverty, drug abuse) are the results of changes in the structure of society. It suggests that crime is a result of the breakdown of many social institutions and norms which influence and affect individual behavior. This theory emphasizes the role of social disorganization in creating and perpetuating crime and delinquency.
Strain theory is the idea that crime is caused by the strain or tension that people experience when they are unable to achieve their goals. As described by Vyain et al. (2014), Robert Merton argued that there are five ways that people can respond to strain: Conformity, Innovation, Ritualism, Retreatism, and Rebellion. I have chosen to feature a local policeman who has been notable in Thai society for a while, given the nickname Joe Ferrari. In Thailand, it is very common knowledge that the police as an institution only serves the military-backed government rather than the people, and in return, the government turns a blind eye toward the many nefarious sources of additional income that the police have created through schemes such as bribes and extortion. Indeed, in Thailand, even requesting the police to do their legally defined duties is often met with a request for money to kick-start the process. Joe Ferrari was a very typical policeman, however, he became publically recognized due to a flamboyant personality in high profile marriages and ownership of an alleged 368 cars, all having been confiscated from criminals as defined by local authorities or purchased with the money well apart from his roughly $1000USD/month salary. Through the veil of Conflict Theory, it is easy to understand why Joe Ferrari has had no qualms in being publically seen to have profited extravagantly in his role as a police officer. Corruption is rife in Thailand, and though each time the government has changed and sworn war against corruption, nothing changes. The wealthy have greater influence and power over all those under them, and so also are free to define what they do not as criminal, but rather business as usual. It is better to be arguably corrupt and powerful than poor and powerless. Joe Ferrari’s life all changed recently when it seems a fellow police officer finally felt that he had gone too far. Video had been released which showed him, along with 6 others, torturing a man who they had bound, covered the face of with plastic, and tried suffocating while asking for a large bribe. Eventually, the man was murdered and when attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful, they brought him to a hospital where they claim he collapsed during the arrest. Eventually, Joe Ferrari went on the run, before turning himself in. For a while, the government was keen to sweep the entire situation under the rug with a light sentence. With increased public pressure, now he and the 6 others involved face the death penalty. This public pressure is one example of functionalism in action. As explained by Vyain et al. (2014), Durkheim argues these kinds of deviance are necessary to create real systemic change, by creating a situation so volatile that their actions result in a significant enough reaction by the public at large demanding justice and measures to prevent recurrence in the future.
Vyain, S., Scaramuzzo, G., Cody-Rydzewski, S., Griffiths, H., Strayer, E., Keirns, N., McGivern, R., & Little, W. (2014, November 6). Introduction to sociology - 1st Canadian edition. Introduction to Sociology 1st Canadian Edition. Retrieved November 22, 2021, from https://opentextbc.ca/introductiontosociology/.