Sociological Theories On Deviance

1843 Words 8 Pages
Running head: DEVIANCE

Catherine Higgins
West Georgia Technical College
March 11, 2018

There are many theories regarding deviance. Sociologists theories are used as a social judgment – never a moral judgment. To take a sociologically approach and to think sociologically we must look at the world in a unique way and see it in a whole new light. This is taking a sociological perspective. Some sociological perspectives include symbolic interaction, conflict, and functional analysis. Within these perspectives are many theories developed by numerous sociologists. Explanations of these perspectives and theories, using definitions and examples, are discussed herein. Through understanding
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Sociologist Edwin Sutherland studied the theory of differential association which states that we learn deviant behavior from others close to us who are role models of and opportunities for deviance. Deviance is less a personal choice and more a result of a socialization process with others. An older cousin may give younger cousins beer at a party. Since everyone is drinking beer, they learn it is okay in this social setting even though they are not old enough to drink. Through differential association with this group of individuals they learn and assume a deviant role. The role or behavior is learned and recognized as deviant, the opportunity exists, and it then becomes routine or normal. Sociologist Howard Becker promoted the labeling theory. This theory claims that deviance is a consequence of external judgments, or labels. The label modifies a person’s self-concept. The labels change the way others respond to the labeled person. Then, the labeled person believes they are deviant because that is what society has labelled them to be. Becker states that deviant behavior is that which society labels as deviant. It is not so much the actual behavior, or the person who commits the behavior, but the reaction by others to the behavior. While driving sometimes we all might speed. This is a violation of the rules and a deviant act. It is …show more content…
Deviance is viewed as a key piece of a functioning society. Sociologist Emile Durkheim distinguished two components of Functional Analysis which are moral boundaries and promotion of social cohesion. Responding to deviance clarifies moral boundaries between right and wrong and brings people together. Deviant people push a society’s moral boundaries and that encourages social change. As moral creatures, we prefer some attitudes and behaviors to others and typically react to serious deviance with outrage. The recent school shootings show our reaction for change and our anger over the use of guns against our children because we believe that these school shootings are morally wrong. This promotes social cohesion across our society as we come together in agreement within our group. It encourages us to make a social change about gun control and licensing regarding mental health. Sociologist Robert Merton developed the theory of structural strain. It is the gap between what ought to be and what is that causes a person to be strained. We may have to adapt when we have a high socially accepted goal, but no socially acceptable way to pursue it. This would be a person who wants to start his own business, but has no start-up money, so he steals from his present employer. In this functionalism theory he commits a deviant act to accomplish his

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