Theories of Deviance
Theories of Deviance
We all live in a society where there are particular rules and regulations that govern the code of conduct of individuals (Downes, Rock & McLaughlin, 2016). We have to abide and live in accordance to the norms and ethical standards that are acceptable but in some cases, there are those individuals who deviate from the norms and act contrary to society expectations. Deviance describes the actions and behaviors that that violates the social norms (Franzese, 2015). The objective of this paper is to explore the various reasons that lead to deviance in the modern society. In order to understand in deeper details, two interviews will be conducted and theories of deviance will be used to explain the reasons given by the respondents.
Set of questions for the interviews
- What do you understand from the term deviance?
- Why do people break the rules?
- Does breaking rules means committing crime?, if not so, what the difference between deviance and crime
- What are some of the effective ways that would prevent people from breaking the rules set by the society
Winnie was the alias name given to the first respondent. She works at a coffee shop nearby. She approximately 22 years old, Winnie is a friend of mine that I have known for so many years since our childhood. The interview was conducted at her work place on a Friday afternoon. According to Winnie, deviance means the act of failing to observe the laws governing the people, she said people break the rules for various reasons, some do it just because they are seeking attention, others are not aware the laws while some break the laws because they are forced by circumstances. Winnie believes there is a difference between deviance and committing crime. She defines crime as violation of laws that can cause harm to the society. The most effective ways of preventing people from breaking the laws are education on the consequences of violation of laws and implementing tough punishment procedures
Chrispers is also an alias for the second respondent, he is a 55 years old man and a retired banker. I have no personal relationship with the Chrispers and just met him on a shopping mall. He defined deviance as the inability to observe the stipulated guidelines set by the society. According to him, people break the rules mostly because they are forced by circumstances and only in a few instances, normal human beings violate the rules. Chrispers says there is no difference between deviance and committing crime because, in either way, there are consequences for breaking the rules. The best way of deviance prevention is through imposing of strict measures of dealing with the people who break the rules, he cited imprisonment as one of the best ways.
Application of theories
According to Winnie, there are various reasons why people break the rules, and in all of the instances, the people have the ability to make choices but due to their own desires or other compelling reasons, they choose to break the rules. The conflict theory of deviance is the suitable theory applicable in explaining the ideas and reasons given by Winnie as the first respondent. The conflict theory states that, in a society setting, each individual or a group functions in such a way that, the individual or the groups struggles to maximize their benefits and in the process contributing to societal changes and revolutions (Clinard, 2016). Depending on how an individual interprets and understands the changes, he or she may end up breaking the rules when trying to maximize their benefits. The conflict theory also states that, the fundamental forces of crime are economic, social forces and to some extent, the political forces that operates within the society context (Andersen & Taylor, 2008).
The structural-functional theories will be applied in explaining the issues raised by the second respondent, MR. Chrispers, deviance is the inability to observe the societal norms and guidelines. The structural-functional theories on the other hands states that, when the structural norms are clearly defined and consistent with the structure and the society status, the rates of deviances will be low because many people are aligned in accordance with the society structure (Johnson, 2008). Individuals will be less concerned about deviance because they are part of the society and are the principle functional units. Therefore, the people breaking rules will be going against the functions and structure of the society and hence committing crime (Goode, 2015).
Both respondents agrees that, deviance is an act that reflects negativity to the society and at all costs, people should be discouraged from engaging in deviance activities. Strict and tough punishment emerged as the best mitigation procedure for preventing people from committing crimes and breaking the rules. In support of the arguments and sentiments raised by the respondents, deviance is an act committed by people with ill motives. We all know what is right and what is wrong, there is no justification that can be given to someone who breaks the rules and regulations. The functionality of the society depends on how well the people observes the norms and cultures that have been existence for decades.
Franzese, R. J. (2015). The sociology of deviance: Differences, tradition, and stigma. Springfield, Illinois Charles C Thomas Publisher Ltd
Clinard, M. B. (2016). Sociology of deviant behavior. Boston, MA, USA : Cengage learning
Andersen, M. L., & Taylor, H. F. (2008). Sociology: Understanding a diverse society. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
Johnson, D. P. (2008). Contemporary sociological theory: An integrated multi-level approach. New York: Springer.
Downes, D., Rock, P., & McLaughlin, E. (2016). Understanding deviance: a guide to the sociology of crime and rule-breaking. Oxford University Press.
Goode, E. (2015). Ethical issues in the qualitative study of deviance and crime. The Routledge Handbook of Qualitative Criminology, 49.