How can a criminal law be a structure that serves a function or use, in social life
whether intended or not, and whether openly stated, or hidden? What is the function of criminal law in social life?
How to Answer the Question:
Draw on an example of your choosing. The more
specific your example is, the better. Make sure to differentiate between the following
Come up with a law and discuss the purpose of the law.
Ex: laws that make it illegal for a person to possess and use cocaine (don’t use this example.)
The function of that law is to prevent people from possessing that drug.
The manifest function of the law is to deter people from using drugs.
The latent (hidden function) of the law is social status -> job opportunities; ability to operate post-conviction
1. The structure (the law or policy that affects social life)—explaining what
example you’ve chosen
2. The obvious functions (manifest functions) of this law—what the law states it is
3. Any hidden uses of the law you identify (latent functions)—including real
consequences that aren’t obvious from what the law actually seems to say it’s
Be sure to cite at least two of our required readings or lectures. (I will attach readings) Engage with their ideas,
even if it is to dismiss or disprove them in a logical way.
A couple possible answers are listed here:
1. The function of criminal law is moral policing of the population—social control
of behaviors that lawmakers deem undesirable (Friedman).
a. This answer could go in the direction of conflict perspective, emphasizing
that it’s the norms of a minority of people that shape a criminal law.
2. The crucial function of criminal law is simply to maintain law and order
(Friedman). The main task of the law is to prevent criminals or likely criminals
from terrorizing the rest of the population (Chambliss). There is not a hidden
agenda. You can use a few perspectives to back up your answer, ultimately
arguing that the law is neutral to the narrow interests of coalitions or classes.
How Should this Paper Look?
I. Title page (names only on this page, no names on other pages)
II. Introduction with thesis statement that covers your argument and the evidence you’ll
III. Body paragraphs: restating the thesis, presenting evidence, discussing the
IV. Conclusion synthesizing your argument, connecting to course themes where you can.
VII. Bibliography. Make sure to cite appropriately when borrowing from others’ work,
either in ASA or APA styles.
See the example bibliography at the end of the assignment.
Total Length: 3-4 double spaced pages of writing. Font size should be 12-point.