Deviance

Length: 5 Pages 1194 Words

Social deviance is a term that refers to forms of behavior and qualities of persons that others in society devalue and discredit. So what exactly is deviance? In this essay we are concerned with social deviance, not physiological deviations from the expected norm. In general, any behavior that does not conform to social norms is deviance; that is behavior that violates significant social norms and is disapproved of by a large number of people as a result. For societies to run with some semblance of order the problem of deviance is essential and intrinsic to any conception of social order. It is problematic because it causes a disruption, but it is essential because it defines our boundaries as a society. It is intrinsic to a conception of order in that defining what is real and expected, defining what is acceptable, and defining who we are - always done in opposition to what is unreal, unexpected, unacceptable and who we are not. If we can accept the reality of change, then designations of deviance are crucial in locating the shifting boundaries of our socially structured reality. (Erikson, 1964) What is perceived as deviant behavior is subject to change depending on our position, place and time. Different cultures have Continue...


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When we define someone or some group as deviant - we strengthen our own position and simplify our response to the "other": we can ignore, expunge, destroy, or rehabilitate them. It is a social problem, brought about by the differing views and values instilled in each culture and society. We convince ourselves of our own normalcy by condemning and controlling those who disagree. Deviance can promote social solidarity. Labeling theorists do not see deviance as a certain set of characteristics pertaining to an individual or group, but they see it as a process of interaction between deviants and non-deviants. There are numerous theories on crime and deviance, some more valid than the rest. (Giddens, 1997) In contrast to this informal construction there is the formal consensual reality, one that is constructed by "crime experts" - people who make a living by reacting to crime (such as law enforcement agents), or studying crime (criminologists) disseminate information in the form of crime statistics, books, articles, editorials, and government publications. Merton similarly links and emphasizes the normality of the criminal (Merton 1957). (Becker, 1963) Society is a structure of relatively isolated subcultures, each with its own values, norms, and way of life. This move allowed researchers to see deviant behavior as something that was caused by society and culture rather than individual defects. Theorists of the Chicago school believed that deviance resulted from disorganized areas (which they believed would be characterized with physical deterioration, economic deprivation, poverty, racial and ethnic heterogeneity, turnover, alienation, high rate of suicide. We do know that there is no single objective definition of crime.

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