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Crime And Deviance Essay

973 words - 4 pages

The study of deviance is the basis for criminology in sociology—the study of crime and its effects on society. nDeviance refers to the socially disapproved violations of important norms and expectations of a society. nWho is deviant differs from one culture to another. nStigma is the mark of deviance (the Scarlet Letter).
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Social control


Social controls are sanctions which try to keep people from deviance. Internal social controls are behaviors and attitudes socialized into the individual to protect them from deviance. External controls are society’s mechanisms like the law and the police. Since everyone breaks social rules and norms, the sociology of ...view middle of the document...

How does a behavior become socially defined as deviant? (Example, alcohol consumption was not a “disease” until the 20th century.)


Strain theory

Structural strain theory: stems from Durkheim’s anomie. Deviance occurs in societies where anomie is great. It is the outcome of social strains which put pressure on people to deviate. There is a discrepancy between socially approved goals and availability of socially approved means of achieving goals. Deviants lack approved means, fall into state of anomie, use deviant means. Merton’s conformity, innovation, ritualism, retreatism, rebellion. Structural theory fails to explain why elites or people with resources would result to deviance, I.e. why would already rich people commit fraud? It doesn’t explain the process by which acts are defined as deviant.



Control theory

Control theory or social bond theory: Social bonds connect people to a community and social controls get internalized so people won’t be deviant. Control theory argues that deviance is the outcome of a failure of social bonds and social control. Conformity, not deviance, should not be taken for granted. Why do people conform? Control theory fails to explain deviance among high status people. Do people have weak bonds with society because they are deviant or does deviance create weak bonds with society?


Functionalist theory



Functionalists see deviance as forms of social control which ensure social order. Sanctions provide rewards and punishments for following norms. Deviance functions to clarify the norms of society and define what the rules are; enhance solidarity in the community by reaffirming society’s norms and values; diversity discontent as a safety valve; identify problems in the social system. Deviance is also dysfunctional to society because it disrupts the social order by making life difficult and unpredictable; 8 confuses norms and values; diverts

Conflict theory

Conflict theorists see crime as a function of the haves and have nots. Laws reflect the interests of the elite and powerful. Poor people are arrested more than rich people/...

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