In the News

City of Liverpool comes together to call for change after Olivia Pratt-Korbel murder

Craig Gelling

6th September 2022

The murder of 9-year-old Olivia Platt-Korbel in Liverpool demonstrates Durkheim’s concept of boundary maintenance and how crime can reinforce social solidarity.

In recent weeks, Liverpool has witnessed a series of shootings that have shocked the city. The murder of 9-year-old Olivia Platt Korbel in her own home followed the shootings of 20-year-old Sam Rimmer and 28-year-old Ashley Dale.

As the city mourns those that have died, we can see the ideas of functionalist sociologist Emile Durkheim in action, and not for the first time. The shooting came either side of the 15-year anniversary of the tragic shooting of Rhys Jones in Liverpool. Rhys, who was eleven, was an innocent bystander who was killed in a gang-related shooting in the Croxteth area of Liverpool in 2007.

As Liverpool grieved then, there was a show of solidarity between Liverpool’s two football clubs during the next Merseyside Derby. Rhys, an Everton fan, was honoured with the playing of the theme from ‘Z Cars’ – the traditional song to which Everton enter the pitch.

What was unusual about the song being played was that it was played at Anfield, home of Liverpool FC, Everton’s fierce rivals. A show of solidarity between the two bitter rivals that demonstrated Durkheim’s concept of social bonds.

Fifteen years later, this weekend another Merseyside Derby paid tribute to a young victim of gun crime, 9-year-old Olivia, as fans from both sides applauded in the ninth minute to celebrate Oliva’s life.

This demonstrates one of Durkheim’s functions of crime – boundary maintenance. How society is brought together through tragic events – such as Olivia’s death.

There is further evidence of Durkheim’s ideas at work though. The local newspaper, the Liverpool Echo, have begun a campaign to name Olivia’s killer, using social media to enlist local celebrities, politicians, and members of the public to both condemn the actions of Olivia’s killer and call for change.

Jamie Carragher, Peter Reid, Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson, and Merseyside Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham are amongst those on the video calling for justice, an end to gun violence and offering solidarity with those affected by the crimes.

The video has had over 20,000 views on YouTube and has been shared widely across social media sites, demonstrating how Durkheim’s ideas of crime reinforcing social solidarity through condemnation of criminal activities is still relevant in society today.

Craig Gelling

Craig is an experienced Sociology teacher and examiner and is known as The Sociology Guy on social media. Craig helps design and deliver tutor2u Sociology CPD courses and student exam workshops.

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