SOC 102 Topic 3 Discussion 1

SOC 102 Topic 3 Discussion 1


In the sociology class, students first learn about the three theoretical perspectives of deviance: conformity, control, and conflict. Each of these theories has a distinct set of explanations for deviant behavior amongst societal members. Using Figure 5.1 as an aid, we can compare and contrast how each theory addresses the idea of deviance in society. The first perspective on deviant behavior is the conforming perspective, where deviance is considered to be a lack of agreement with what society deems appropriate. This generally stems from socialization into cultures that set expectations for acceptable behavior. Humans are motivated by rewards (rewards such as self-esteem) and punishments (reigns such as shame). When we do not follow the rules established by our societies we are more likely to be perceived as a deviant and therefore will be punished. In this way deviance helps maintain order in our societies; without a punishment for disobeying rules members would do what they pleased which would not be beneficial for the greater good of all members.

There are three main sociological theories that examine deviance in society: the conflict theory, the functionalism theory, and the labeling theory. The three theories discuss the role deviance has in society differently.

Three major sociological theories that explain the role deviance plays in society are the conflict, symbolic interactionism, and control theories. Overall, these three sociological theories view deviance differently, although they all agree that the overall goal is to better understand its reasoning as well as how it affects society. The conflict theory views deviance as a disruption of an individual or group’s relationship with their surroundings, and what conflicts within society could arise. Symbolic interactionism views deviance as a result of different forms of interactions and reactions between individuals and society at large. Finally, the control theory views deviance as something that arises from society’s goals and anticipation of the future.

Fig 5.1 “Deviance: Societal, Community, Free-Rider Models” shows the different sociological theories on deviance. Anomie theory emphasizes that due to economic forces and equalization of opportunities, few offensive deviant acts are committed. The classic theory focuses on the culture’s reaction to the deviance committed and suggest that the severity of sanctions is determined by the community’s functioning (social disorganization). The free rider model emphasizes that offensiveness or permissibility of an act is decided by society and depends on the society’s view of that act as acceptable or unacceptable behavior. Deviance thus is defined differently in every society which leads to it being regulated differently in every community also.

During the early to mid-1900s, there was a large rise in youth crime during the time called the “Rebel Without a Cause.” This rise in crime brought about an increased need for sociologists to understand crime and deviance. The three major sociological perspectives on deviance are labeling theory, control theory, and conflict theory. Labeling theory stresses that an individual’s deviant behavior is a result of that person being labeled as deviant. Control Theory stresses that people who do not fit into society but do not fall into criminal behavior will try to increase their formal social control and informal social approval by trying to be more like others, thus thwarting any further acts of deviance. Finally, Conflict Theory contends that law enforcement agencies such as police and courts have differing definitions of deviant behaviors which will allow particular political or economic groups who are socially distinct from other groups to get away with more deviant behavior

Sociologists have used three theoretical perspectives to examine how deviant behavior is interpreted: the Conflict perspective states that deviance occurs in response to strains and stresses within society, the Control (or Social Struggle) perspective explains deviance as a natural and inevitable result of a healthy competition for scarce resources, and the Cultural or Symbolic Interactionist framework views deviance as a reaction to the society norms.

[[Criminology]] deals with crime and criminals and sociologists in general are interested in the causes of human behavior. While most criminal behavior can be explained by [[sociological]] theories, there are different theories of crime, each looking at this issue from a different angle.







Using the three major sociological theories, explain each theoretical perspective on deviance. Then compare and contrast the role deviance plays in society according to the theories. Use Figure 5.1 in Our social world: An introduction to sociology as an aid to answer this DQ.

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