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Deviant Behavior Essay

2084 words - 8 pages

Deviance is described as being behaviour that is not part of the norms in your particular society. This can be different throughout the world because some cultures have very different norms (Stephens and Leach, 1998:17). Most deviant behaviour will attract disapproval from others in the society or punishment from authorities. There are many different types of deviance such as addiction, mental illness, alcoholism, criminality and homosexuality. Throughout this essay six types of theories will be discussed about how and why people are deviant. Four of these theories support the idea of deviance being biological and three support the idea of it being caused by your social construction. Also the essay will talk about the differences between the theories and a similarity amongst them as they don’t often agree.

There are two main views that people see as to how a person becomes deviant; biologically or from a person’s social construction. The biological explanation of deviance is that it is part of who you are when you are born. Whether you are born into a long line of alcoholics or your mother has a mental illness, it is coming from your genes. There are many theories that support the biological explanation of deviance that will be explained in this essay. Some seem very unlikely and don’t have a lot of evidence but there are a lot of theorists that support this idea. The social constructionist explanation is that you become deviant from the way that you are brought up. It is believed that certain parts of your childhood can cause a person to become deviant. This could be that your parents or caregivers brought you up to be a deviant person because they were deviant themselves. It could also be that you were neglected as a child and never were taught right from wrong. There are also many theories supporting this explanation of deviance and one famous believer of social constructionism causing deviance is Emile Durkheim, his explanation will be discussed further on.

Cesare Lombroso was born in 1835. His view on deviance was that it can be biologically explained. He refers to the criminality part of deviance. He was very well known for his theories and studies about the relation between mental and physical characteristics of people. He became famous because he claimed to have found the reason that people were committing crimes. Lombroso believed that different physical appearances were an indication to if you were a deviant or not. Lombroso called these differences “stigma” and said that they showed if you were a criminal or a non-criminal (Sabbatini 1997:1). Lombroso described stigma as things like large jaws and cheekbones, long arms, abnormally big or small ears, weird looking teeth and a general hairiness of the body (Burfeind and Bartusch 2011:119). His ideas came from a man called Franz Gall who created Phrenology, a study that said you were a criminal if you had a large head. Lombroso’s thesis was that you could tell the difference between...

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