Crime And Deviance Case Study
This can lead to the formation of criminal subcultures where different values become important such as fearlessness and resentment towards authority. This allows those who are unable to achieve success conventionally to gain status and respect within their own subculture. The Mafia are a prime example of a criminal subculture that has developed due to the pressure to achieve common social, and in Western society financial, goals.
The main criticism of functionalist approaches to crime and deviance is the assumption that society shares common values and that those values are determined by a collective social conscience. It fails to recognise the influence of those in power in a society to regulate what constitutes deviance and what our common values are, leading to the poor and powerless most often being considered the main perpetrators of …show more content…
Action theory places emphasis on how others react to deviant behaviour, as opposed to the behaviour itself.
One of the most significant influences in this area of study is Howard Becker’s labeling theory (also referred to as social reaction theory). Becker proposes that deviance is not intrinsic to a particular activity, but that it is the ‘label’ that those within general society give to those acting out with social normality, that in fact is the cause of crime and social deviance.
For example, an individual convicted of a crime and sent to prison may find that they are labelled an ‘ex-con’ or ‘jailbird’ upon their release. This label could lead to difficulty finding employment and may also result in the individual receiving increased scrutiny from the police. With general society (‘non-jailbirds’) rejecting the individual, they may only find social acceptance with other ‘jailbirds’, potentially leading to further criminal acts being committed in order to conform with the ‘jailbird’ subculture they have found themselves in. This development of a deviant career is not due to the individual being innately criminal but a direct result of the labelling process itself, essentially stereotyping the individual and setting up a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’. This theory does not explore who is society has the power to determine which labels are positive and