This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Deviance: Construction, Definition, Benefits And Influence

1825 words - 7 pages

Deviance is a very important concept in both criminology and sociology. It deals with society as well as the law. In this paper I will answer the question of what exactly is deviance and how is it constructed? Who gets to define what deviance is? Who benefits from defining it in a certain way and how does this process influence the legal system?
According to our lecture notes, “A crime is any act which has been legally prohibited by the state such that, if done, it renders the actor liable to punishment or treatment or both”. These same notes define deviance as a “violation of any social conduct norm.” This violation could be anything from the hippie movement or speeding in traffic to a criminal act such as spousal abuse. In the Criminology textbook, Siegel and McCormick state that deviance is “behavior that departs from social norms and that is not always subject to formal sanctions”(p 6). This means that although the behavior or actions deviate from society’s expectations and standards they don’t necessarily warrant a criminal status. In addition, Siegel and McCormick also explain that, “not all crimes are deviant or unusual acts, and not all deviant acts are illegal or criminal”(p.6). To put it into perspective, use speeding in traffic as an example. It is considered a summary offence and a deviant act, but speeding carries a very minor punishment, if at all, compared to an indictable offence like murder; both are considered deviant but murder is punishable by imprisonment. Something that is considered deviant in one place may not be deviant in another. Goode and Ben-Yehuda state that what’s regarded as deviant varies with society, groups, period of time and social context (p.110). For example, smoking marijuana is deviant and criminal in Canada, however in Amsterdam it is neither unusual nor illegal to smoke. The same can be said for spousal rape, which was not considered a crime in the past, but over time has become both a deviant act and a criminal offense. Deviance can also be explained by context; if an individual member of a gang does not join in on an activity along with the rest of the gang members, the individual can be seen as deviant. Macionis and Gerber explain that “the social welfare and criminal justice system blame individuals, not the system, for social problems.”(p.219). Deviance is constructed by institutions to be a problem stemming from the individual rather than society. Basically, because society makes up a majority, what most of a society's members do is considered normal. Doing something unlike what a society does is considered abnormal and people are usually uncomfortable with this sort of disparity. Macionis and Gerber go on to clarify that “people become deviant as others define them that way.”(p.219). Without defining the boundaries between normal and abnormal, deviance would not exist. Essentially, deviant acts are constructed through stigmatizing actions that are deemed dissimilar or immoral in a society....

Find Another Essay On Deviance: Construction, Definition, Benefits and Influence

The Three Main Theories of Deviance and Their Strengths and Weaknesses

2887 words - 12 pages , Marxism has been an influence on a number of critical perspectives on deviance. Some have drawn their inspiration from Marxism and can be referred to as neo-Marxist approaches. Others owe less to Marxism and are better defined as radical approaches.

What is Deviance? Essay

1947 words - 8 pages aspect or lead to social change. Culture and the societies within these cultures have a significant impact on what is considered deviant and what is acceptable or even lawful behavior. The degree of deviance is measured by society’s reaction towards the action and the lawful sanctions that may take place. The definition of what is deviant is ever-changing and will continue to change as long as society evolves. Looking at society today, compared

Explain why is it important to analyse deviance in society. Using examples to illustrate your answer, discuss what such an analysis can tell us about the social and political implications of deviance

1372 words - 5 pages deviance through social control allow people to have a clear definition of what constitutes deviance, and seeks to foster and maintain the perimeters on the moral community. Also, responding to deviance reinforces social cohesion by making people more mindful of shared values and norms, hence bringing members in unity through the common indignation against the deviant. Lastly, deviance foster social change; norm-breaking behaviour challenges the

labelling theory

2780 words - 11 pages (1951) outlines Edwin Lemert's approach to what many consider the original version of labeling theory. Lemert, unhappy with theories that take the concept of deviance for granted, focuses on the social construction of deviance (Lemert 1951). Lemert (1951) describes deviance as the product society's reaction to an act and the affixing of a deviant label on the actor. Social Pathology details the concepts of primary and secondary deviance

Sociological Viewpoint of Deviance

2968 words - 12 pages Lemert argues that societal reaction is a 'cause' of deviance. Lemert begins by distinguishing between 'primary' and 'secondary' deviance. Primary deviance is deviance before it is publicly labelled; it has a number of possible causes and is not worth investigating since samples are biased and it has no impact on the individual, it does not influence status or activities. The common factor among deviants, claims Lemert, is

The criminal justice system has been important in defining, explaining and controlling behaviors understood as deviant. Discuss two sociological responses to concepts of criminal deviance

645 words - 3 pages attention in the media, youth groups marked as deviant and working class men in need of being "controlled".The study of deviance, hence, is directly linked to social power and the influence of social class - the divisions between the privileged and the poor. The shared system of beliefs, values and ideas are structured around individuals who poses power and control, which will legitimatize the interests for dominant groups (Giddens: 2001).Both social

Deviance and Social Control

2191 words - 9 pages The concepts 'Social Control' and 'Deviance' have more than one definition to me, my understandings of these terms are that they try to group, control and define different kinds of anti-social behaviour. In this essay I will be reflecting on how certain topics have deviant labels attached to them as a result of social control. I will be explaining my initial understanding and views of these topics, going on to explain how they may have been

Crime and deviancy

1764 words - 8 pages does focus on the negatives, however with functionalism a positive equilibrium is always possible whereas Conflict theory does not allow for a positive outcome. Conflict will always be present because society canon function without it. Works Cited Cohen, S (2011),Moral Panics: The Social Construction of Deviance, Routledge, Oxon, UK Goode and Ben-Yehuda( 2009), Moral Panics: The Social Construction of Deviance. Second edition, Blackwell

The Concept of Moral Panics

2694 words - 11 pages subjective. Relativists question the basis of social order and appreciate that the more powerful groups within a society impose their value systems on others. Leslie Wilkins in her extract titled "Information and the definition of deviance" (Cohen and Young, 1974, p.36) supports this relativist view and uses culture to illustrate how deviance is subjective. She explains how many cultures prior to Western contact held

Deviance in sports

1359 words - 5 pages Deviance In SportsDeviance In Sports As we the people of the world enter a new millennium many sociological problems can be viewed in everyday life. Problems, which often are confused and not well understood through the world's outlook. One such problem that this paper will focus on is "Deviance In Sports". This paper will discuss and elaborate on certain points and topics such as: 1. What is deviance? 2. How do acts of deviance influence the

Deviance in Society - The Sociology of Deviance

2215 words - 9 pages between deviance and social control. In conclusion, an evaluation on the strengths and weaknesses of two of the more dominant sociological theories and perspectives, strain and labelling theory, which are believed by sociologists to explain the connections between deviance and social control in a changing society, will also be explored.Lupton, Short & Whip (1992, p.133) define social control as 'the means by which societies are stabilised' with

Similar Essays

Definition And Study Of Cultural Construction

1161 words - 5 pages Cultural construction is one of the key values in the study of Anthropology for several reasons. According to Peoples and Bailey in our Humanity book, Anthropology not only helps us understand the biological, technological, and cultural development of humanity but it’s also intended to teach us the importance of understanding and appreciating cultural diversity. By definition, “Cultural constructions are arbitrary in that they are created and

The Definition And Benefits Of Recycling

2350 words - 10 pages recycling’s definition, process steps, roles, and benefits is essential to active civic, governmental, and corporate initiatives, which help to improve the environment. Recycling is a very important task because it allows citizens to engage in responsible activities that protect and nurture the environment. Without recycling, the future of the planet would be bleaker in that humans have the power to effect change through concentrated, prolonged

Labeling Theory And Its Effectiveness On Youth Crime And Anti Social Behavior

989 words - 4 pages that is perceived as 'wrong'. The issue of social power cannot be divorced from a definition of deviance, some groups in society can criminalize the actions of another group by using their influence on legislators. A Marxist would say that the laws are decided by the state, which represents the ruling class. It could be said that the ruling class set the definition of devience in order to maintain power, cooerse and control the underclasses

Female Deviance Essay

2418 words - 10 pages notions of society . It is argued that women who have experienced poor socialisation may be more vulnerable to male influence and manipulation, which can result in sex based deviancy such as women's involvement in prostitution .The interactionist perspective explains women deviance as an outcome of the labelling interaction process occurring between people . Thus "deviance...... is a consequence of the application by others of rules and sanctions to