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Social Deviance: Societal Norms Essay

Deviance incorporates behaviors, norms and traits considered a violation of the societal norms or those that trigger negative reactions from the society. There is a wide array of social deviance definitions depending on aspects such as time, situation and the culture. It is also important to note that while some forms of social deviance involve large groups of the community such as piercings and tattoos while, others are only perpetrated by very minute portions of the community such as those who commit murders.

Interaction also results in the formation of certain deviant behaviors while others result from onflict or genetic markers. The criminal justice system seeks to rectify such deviant behaviors in the society through punishments so as to reduce deviant behavior and protect the society. Deviance varies from one culture to the other but there are close similarities between deviance and the less privileged communities, although researchers have linked extreme deviant behaviors with certain genetic markers, and there is need to integrate research on social deviant behaviors in criminal justice systems.

Societal norms vary from one community to another based on heir culture, and consider that the definition of social deviance varies between communities. In sociology, the term deviance depicts a social judgment and not a moral judgment and since a deviant behavior is one that defies the expectations of a particular community, but not necessarily immoral. As such, one community might perceive a certain behavior as a crime while other communities perceive the behavior a norm. For example, the popular culture resonates closely with deviant characters such as sociopaths and psychopaths with Hannibal and Sherlock

Holmes being ideal examples, in spite of the fact that such individuals have inherent social control and manipulative skills which enable them to blend with the rest of the society, making them that much more dangerous (Hare, 1999). There are many theories of social deviance some of which include the functional theory, the conflict theory, Merton’s structural strain theory, the symbolic interaction theory, the differential association theory, and the labeling theory. Functionalist theorists claim that deviance plays a functional role in distinguishing moral boundaries and instilling social ohesion in the society.

On the contrary, conflict theorists claim that the definition of the term deviance is a driver for social inequalities which associates the less privileged members of the community with socially deviant behaviors as well as criminal behaviors (Innes, 2003). Merton’s structural strain theory argues societies come up with socially appropriate goals as well as the means to achieve these goals, and deviant behavior manifests itself when certain individuals fail to agree with the objectives or cannot afford the means to achieve these goals or both.

According to the differential association theory, deviant behavior is acquired through associations with deviant peers (Ferris & Stein, 2016). The symbolic interaction theory argues that deviants are the result of their interactions which influence their definition and meaning of deviance. The labeling theory claims that deviance results from labels which change one’s self- perception as well as that of others towards them. The self- fulfilling prophecy further supports the theory by arguing that labeling causes the labeled individuals to adjust so as to fit the efinition of the label.

Deviant identities often result in stigmatization of those associated with deviant behavior by devaluing them and limiting their ability of social interactions. Labelled individuals apply various strategies to deal with the stigma which includes passing, in-group orientation, and the deviance avowal. In passing, individuals chose to hide their knowledge of the stigmatization information. Alternatively, stigmatized individuals often chose in-group orientation and come up with new values to associate with their new identity (Ferris & Stein, 2016).

Finally, stigmatized individuals can choose to identify themselves with deviant behaviors by embracing the labelling process using the avowal technique. The most common forms of social deviants included criminals, sexual offenders and the mentally incapacitated. It is important to note that for a long time, the definition of deviance has remained biased towards the most powerful in the society (Innes, 2003). The background of deviant individuals is often perceived as a point of reference to explain a person’s association with social deviance.

Additionally, most deviants lso engage in the socially deviant behavior because of the emotional effect the behavior has on them. For example, most individuals testify to the fact that they experience a certain type of rush or thrill during the act (Ferris & Stein, 2016). Additionally, researchers have also found that certain biological and genetical markers are responsible for associations with deviant behaviors. For example, the frontal and temporal lobes responsible for empathy, self-control, and morality are nonfunctional in most serial killers (Hare, 1999).

One popular type of social deviance in he society today is cyber-bulling which is extremely detrimental because deviants can successfully target a large number of victims with a limited number of resources. As a result of the devastating effects that deviant behaviors can have on the societies, deviant behavior that also violates the law is deemed a crime and is often accompanied by legal punishment. The legal system is responsible for tailoring different punishments to fit the magnitude of the crime. Crime ranges from violent crime, property crime, and white collar crimes.

In violent crime, violence is either the objective of the riminal or the means to an end and often includes aggravated assault, rape, murder, and robbery. Property crime is void of violence and includes acts such as theft, arson, and burglary while white-collar crime is often committed by high-status officials in the society during the execution of their duties (Ferris & Stein, 2016). According to uniform crime reports, males, minorities, youth and people from less privileged neighborhoods are more likely to get arrested for criminal behavior.

However, sociology focusses on explaining these trends instead of dwelling on them. In addition to explaining the causes of social deviance, there is a raging debate as to the role of the punishment enacted by law enforcers in discouraging deviant behavior in the society. The criminal justice system has many objectives which it intends to achieve through various punishments. One such objective is to deter social deviants by threatening them with the possibility of facing harsh punishment to pay for their crimes (Ferris & Stein, 2016).

The criminal justice system also achieves retribution by responding to crime by retaliating or revenging the crime. The criminal justice system also incapacitates social deviants so as to protect members of the society through imprisonment or execution in some cases. Additionally, the system also intends to rehabilitate criminals so as to encourage them to refrain from socially deviant behaviors. Nonetheless, it is important to note that although there is a dominating focus on negative social deviance, there are elements of positive social deviance in the society which is often associated with heroism (Ferris & Stein, 2016).

In conclusion, deviance is a contemporary concern in the ociety with sociologists seeking to explain the cause of deviant behaviors in the society. Additionally, the definition of deviance ranges from one culture to the other, and there is also a variance of socially deviant behaviors, with some amounting to criminal activity befitting of punishment by law. Therefore, the criminal justice system plays a significant role in protecting the society. However, there is a close association of deviant behavior with minority groups, and researchers should focus on explaining such trends and integrate the findings in criminal justice systems.

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