• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Compare and Contrast the Main Sociological Theories of Deviance.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

COMPARE AND CONTRAST THE MAIN SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIES OF DEVIANCE Deviance is a wide-ranging term used by sociologists to refer to behaviour that varies, in some way, from a social norm. In this respect, it is evident that the concept of deviance refers to some form of "rule-breaking" behaviour. In relation to deviance, therefore, the concept relates to all forms of rule-breaking whether this involves such things as murder, theft or arson - the breaking of formal social rules - or such things as wearing inappropriate clothing for a given social situation, failing to produce homework at school or the breaking of relatively informal social rules. In practice, the study of deviance is usually limited to deviance that results in negative sanctions. In fact, the American sociologist, M. Clinard, has suggested that the term deviance should only be applied to behaviour that is disapproved of, and punished by a community. Non-sociological understanding of deviance tends to acknowledge the presence of something within the individual that compels, or at least orientates, them to commit certain acts. It is vitally important to recognise that deviance is relative, the context in which behaviour occurs is crucial to how it will be evaluated. This means that there is not an absolute way of defining a deviant act. Deviance can only be defined in relation to a particular standard of behaviour, and no standards are fixed forever as absolutes. As such, deviance varies from time-to-time, place-to-place and person-to-person. In one society, an act that is considered deviant today may be defined as normal in the future. Possible examples are polygamy, one-parent families, or the age of consent. An act defined as deviant in one society may be seen as perfectly normal in another. Deviance is culturally determined, and cultures differ both from each other and within the same culture over time. The very idea of the born criminal/deviant is a very strong part of our popular culture, and it has the enormous side benefit of directing blame at the deviant individual, while excluding social factors. ...read more.

Middle

Aware of being branded failures by the school, the lower streams develop their own subculture, based on a reversal of school values. The subculture becomes a collective response to status denial. For lower stream boys the subculture has two uses: It creates an alternative set of values so they can compete for status among their peers. It provides a means of hitting back at society. Petty theft or vandalism, for example, may have a measure of malice or revenge within them. Cohen therefore argues that delinquents are no different from other adolescents in seeking status. Cohen thus addresses the second and third of the problems left unresolved by Merton. Cloward and Ohlin. In an attempt to link Merton's concept of anomie, which argued that people turn to crime if they had few legal opportunities, these writers believed that Merton had ignored the existence of an illegitimate opportunity structure. This opportunity structure had three levels: Criminal subculture: Providing the opportunity for a career in crime. There needed to be a stable, cohesive working class community with contacts in the mainstream and illegal communities, successful role models for the young, and a career structure for aspiring criminals. Conflict subculture: Existing if the criminal subculture is absent. If no criminal career is available to young males they may turn their frustration at failure in both the legitimate and illegitimate opportunity structures into violence. Retreatist subculture: Being the one that takes the double failures, those who don't make it in crime or violence. The failures retreat into drugs and petty theft. The approach has been criticised for making the same assumptions as Merton, that everyone seeks the same goal of financial success. A further problem is that there is no evidence to support the idea of subculture as described by Cloward and Ohlin. Both Cohen and Cloward and Ohlin suggest that crime results from a distinctive youth sub-culture, which provides alternative guidelines to the mainstream culture. ...read more.

Conclusion

Along with Box's mystification of crime, it can be seen that laws are bias as it seems to advantage the bourgeoisie. Functionalists contradicts Marxists' ideas as functionalists, suggested that law is a reflection of the will of people while Marxists disagree and suggest that law is a reflection of the will of the powerful. Marxists suggested that the law is controlled by the powerful, this was supported by their idea of the manipulation of values, where the mainstream of the society, the court, the police etc. are predominantly middle class and would be bias towards the ruling class people. Law creation is another one as Marxists suggested that most laws are passed by members of the parliament whom are mainly from the bourgeoisie. They have the ability to manipulate themselves to the laws. Law creation and law enforcement happens in consistently to show why people in control tends to be bias. Marxists mainly concentrate on the class distribution and stress that they the ruling class control the norms and values of the society. It will not be classed as deviant unless the bourgeoisie say so and they will not say so unless it is committed by a working class person. An example of this approach employed in research is provided by Phil Cohen (1972). He studied the youth of East London in the early 1970s. He examined: The immediate context and the wider context. He analysed the way that two different youth subcultures reacted to the changes occurring in their community. Cohen argued that the youth cultures developed to cope with the loss of community in East London, but also they reflected the divisions within society. He suggests that the mode of reaction was to the new ideology of affluence; they wanted to show they had money and knew how to spend it. In contrast skinheads looked back to the more traditional working class community. In conclusion, sociological theories of deviance vary depending on the various approaches. For an act to be considered deviance varies from place to place and the time. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Crime & Deviance section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Crime & Deviance essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Evaluate the Functionalist explanations of Deviance.

    4 star(s)

    Valier argues that there are, in fact, a variety of goals that people strive to attain at any one time. Whilst Merton's theory does provide some explanation, there are also a number of problems: 1. It assumes that people share similar ends.

  2. Sociological Theories on Crime and Deviance

    manner but believe that they make their choice from among socially prestructured options. The emphasis in functionalist theory is on social structure, not individual action. In this sense, functionalist theory is highly sociological. Functionalists also point out that what appears to be dysfunctional behaviour may actually be functional for the society.

  1. Critically Compare and Contrast Functionalist and Traditional Marxist Perspectives On Crime.

    When a serious crime is committed and thus becomes public knowledge through media attention, functionalists believe that there are bonds within society that are strengthened and a sense of horror is felt. Durkheim called this a 'collective conscience', however not all people follow the masses in mutual horror and can prefer their own needs to those of others.

  2. Marxism is a structural theory, as people's actions are shaped by society and in ...

    It is also important to note that Young accepted these criticisms and re-evaluated his earlier work. However he argued that recent approaches such as realist criminology, feminist criminology and post-modern criminology are all aimed at creating justice in society and therefore are a continuation of the new criminology.

  1. Describe law and order in London in the late 19th century

    Police officers had to be 35 or less and at least 5' 7" with the skills to read and write however, these were loosened and some police officers, as were not under supervision, got drunk on the job. The general attitude was that "the police were incompetent" and most police

  2. Assess the sociological explanations for why boys underachieve at school

    Another factor is jobs in the service sector, which are usually based in call centers and desks. These jobs require interpersonal and social skills, which are not traits generally found within traditional working class identities and therefore someone with these skills, perhaps chosen from the social skills shown within a job interview would be chosen over the working class man.

  1. describe four studies relating to crime and deviance - each from a different perspective. ...

    (Haralambos, 2000, page 357) Cohen's study provides an insight into the formation of the delinquent subcultures and an explanation for crime and deviance. He believes subcultures are the product of the search for status, which has been blocked by legitimate means as a result of their position in the class structure.

  2. Assess Marxist theories of crime and deviance.

    had been an 129% increase in 'mugging' but Hall found that 'mugging' is not an official crime so he looked at the closest category and found that it had only increased by 14% which was a slower increase than in past years.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work