The concept of deviance is complex because norms vary considerably across groups, times, and places.
In other words, what one group may consider acceptable, another may consider deviant. For example, in some parts of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Muslim Africa, women are circumcised. In America, the thought of female circumcision, or female genital mutilation as it is known in the United States, is unthinkable; female genital mutilation, usually done in unsanitary conditions that often lead to infections, is done as a blatantly oppressive tactic to prevent women from having sexual pleasure.
A number of theories related to deviance and criminology have emerged within the past 50 years or so. For example, juvenile gangs provide an environment in which young people learn to become criminals.
These gangs define themselves as countercultural and glorify violence, retaliation, and crime as means to achieving social status. Gang members learn to be deviant as they embrace and conform to their gang's norms. People learn deviance from the people with whom they associate. The primary contribution of anomie theory is its ability to explain many forms of deviance. The theory is also sociological in its emphasis on the role of social forces in creating deviance. On the negative side, anomie theory has been criticized for its generality.
Critics note the theory's lack of statements concerning the process of learning deviance, including the internal motivators for deviance. Like differential association theory, anomie theory does not lend itself to precise scientific study. As examples, they cite wealthy and powerful businesspeople, politicians, and others who commit crimes.
In this case, the goals and the means of the society are in balance.
Social Deviance Free Essay Outline & Examples
It is when the goals and means are not in balance with each other that deviance is likely to occur. This imbalance between cultural goals and structurally available means can actually encourage deviance. Labeling theory is one of the most important approaches to understanding deviant and criminal behavior within sociology. It begins with the assumption that no act is intrinsically criminal. Instead, definitions of criminality are established by those in power through the formulation of laws and the interpretation of those laws by police, courts, and correctional institutions.
Deviance is therefore not a set of characteristics of individuals or groups, but rather a process of interaction between deviants and non-deviants and the context in which criminality is defined. Those who represent forces of law and order and those who enforce the boundaries of proper behavior, such as the police, court officials, experts, and school authorities, provide the main source of labeling.
By applying labels to people, and in the process creating categories of deviance , these people reinforce the power structure and hierarchies of society. Typically it is those who hold more power over others, on the basis of race, class, gender, or overall social status, who impose rules and labels on others in society.
The Research on the Deviant Behavior and Parent-Child Relationship of Juvenile Crime
According to this view, people care about what others think of them and conform to social expectations because of their attachments to others and what others expect of them. Socialization is important in producing conformity to social rules, and it is when this conformity is broken that deviance occurs.
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This theory also suggests that most people probably feel some impulse toward deviant behavior at some time, but their attachment to social norms prevents them from actually participating in deviant behavior. The theory of differential association is a learning theory that focuses on the processes by which individuals come to commit deviant or criminal acts. According to the theory, created by Edwin H.