Deviance And The Three Sociological Perspectives

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Deviance and the Three Sociology Perspectives
Despite the negative connotation that is usually bestowed upon the word, according to The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology, deviance is defined as a behavior, trait, or belief that departs from a norm and generates a negative reaction in a particular group (Ferris and Stein 153). This could be anything talking to oneself in public or leading a civil rights movement like Martin Luther King Jr. to change the world forever. The three different sociological perspectives, symbolic interaction, functional analysis, and conflict can be applied to the idea of deviance. However, the three sociological perspectives are very different in the ways they approach deviance. Of the three, conflict is
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According to The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology, interactionists who study symbolic interactionism, “consider the way that interpersonal relationships and everyday interactions shape definitions of deviance” (Ferris and Stein 158). For example, Edwin Sutherland approaches deviance through the differential association theory (Ferris and Stein 158). This is the idea that one learns deviant behavior through the interactions with those who commit deviant behavior. For example, children learn from the behaviors of the parents, including those that are deviant. Howard Becker proposes in his labeling theory that “deviance is not inherent in any act, belief, or condition; instead, it is determined by social context” (Ferris and Stein 159). This means that the whether an act is defined as deviant depends on the context on which the act was committed. For example, stealing food to feed the hungry could be celebrated by some, whereas stealing money for one’s personal gains is scorned upon. Both acts of stealing could be inherently considered deviant but have received different responses. Within labeling theory, Robert Merton’s idea of self-fulfilling prophecy came from the Thomas theorem developed by W.I. Thomas who said that people define their situations as real and the resulting consequences are real (Ferris and Stein 160). In essence according to interactionists, …show more content…
The conflict theory is defined to be the idea that different groups and individuals are in competition with one another in society. The ideas of the conflict theory are reflected thus in regards to deviance. Ferris and Stein explain in The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology that deviance is defined by “norms, rules, and laws” through social control. The Marxist theory states that there is a constant conflict of social classes for scarce resources and the means of production that leads to deviant behavior (“Theories of Deviance; Conflict Theory”). The inequality between socioeconomic classes causes people to defer from the norms established by society in order to achieve a more equal position in society. Another component of the conflict theory in regards to deviance is feminism or the feminist theory. Discriminatory and sexist crimes such as domestic violence and rape have been defined as deviant crimes. It was through the feminist movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s that the inequality of genders was addressed (“Theories of Deviance: Conflict Theory”). The action of women deferring from the submissive and docile image of the female may have been viewed as deviant behavior, but in the end allowed society to “re-label” those very actions that put them in an inferior position in society as deviant. The constancy of conflict and the constancy of deviance go hand in hand.

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