Functionalists’ view of crime in Nigeria

The functionalists perspective of society describes it as consisting of integrated parts, working together for the sustainability of the whole. In their assertion, they believe that all parts of society are working interdependently and/ or interwoven for the betterment of the whole. Parts need whole and whole needs parts. It is also called system theory. It tries to delineate society in a narrow but – in broader practice- that gives equal opportunity to each, to function accordingly.

The contributory and effective parts of society are family, religious institutions, mass media, political institutions (power and authority), economic productions, cultures and academic environment. All of these, however, have certain role(s) to play in shaping a person’s behaviour towards conforming to societal norms and values. A problem to one is an effect on the whole.

Let’s begin with the family. As the first agent of socialising the new ones to fit into the wider society and/or community, the role of a family cannot be underestimated. One exhibits to society the products of his family’s nurture for as much as he remains the true son/daughter of that family. A child learns how to eat, talk, greet, communicate and imitate his/her siblings (internalisation), before being exposed to the outside world.

Religious institutions teach the morals, scriptures and act(s) of worshipping the divine. Moreover, it plays the role of internalising the values that direct an individual to conform to moral and social standards. The mass media also explore the person’s civilisation in the global arena. As the world has become a global village, it brings the real happenings of far societies, to your doorsteps.

The political institution explains the roles of power and authority, and the rights and duties of citizens, among others. The economic function of a society is to determine the factors of production(s), allocation and/or distribution of scarce resources and the level of productivity. The culture teaches us the norms, values, how to dress, and how to greet and respect our elders, among other functions. The academic function of a society is (was) formally teaching the new generations and members of society different disciplines, civic responsibilities and law and order.

In summary, note, if a family fails to instil these features as a result of a broken home(s) and bad parenting, a child deviates from the standardised ethics and values of his/her society. Some religious leaders promote bigotry, agents and tools of suppressing the masses at the expense of greedy and self-centred politicians or for materialistic item(s).

The political atmosphere propagates the exploitation of the lower class people, ethnicity and regionalism, to satisfy the political interest of the elite. The mass media serves as a two-edged sword; somewhat promoting propaganda, misinformation, peace/instability and others. Some cultural spheres are ethnocentric, prejudiced and stereotyped. This leads to the destruction of mechanical solidarity and the promotion of individualism. Some academic environments are substandard, polluted and unaffordable for the less privileged, which, in turn, increase the several school drop-outs and drug addiction, and resort to all types of deviant and criminal acts.

Conclusively, based on the foregoing factors, I would like to draw the attention of government at all levels, stakeholders, concerned authorities and individuals to work hand-in-hand in order to improvie the situation and make Nigeria look green again.

Fadeelah Adeyemo,

Department of Mass Communication, University of Maiduguri, Borno state