Theories of deviance

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1 April 2016

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Theories of deviance
(1)The text describes issues of unacceptable behavior in the society. There was given 4 different theories that explain reasons and different aspects of deviance behavior. (2)In the beginning of the text author gives us the examples of deviance behavior: alcoholism, stealing, being nude in public places. Also there is a definition of deviance behavior: behavior that violates social norms and disapproval from the majority of society. However, the behavior which is deviant for one group of people may be acceptable for others. Science that explore deviance is criminology. (3)Differential-association theory.

Edwin Sutherland, the author derive this theory to explain the processes of how people learn to violate. The key features of this theory is environment in which the person is and agents of socialization: family, friends, co-workers and media. People learn criminal behavior from the interactions with others, especially in small groups. The problem is that the vague terminology of the theory don’t let it to validate empirically. Anomie theory.

Robert Merton defines the term “anomie” as situation in which social norms conflict or don’t even exist. Merton pointed the difference between social acceptable goals and opportunities that people have to reach this goals. With the example of achievement of wealth author shows that when people don’t have means to attain their goals, they can use deviance behavior as a response to injustice. Although, the theory does not explains the process of learning deviance. Control theory.

Walter Reckless claim that people periodically may want to act in deviance ways, but most of them don’t do it. The key is in various restraints, like internal: conscience, values, integrity, and outer: police, family and religious authorities. Self-control plays an important role in preventing unacceptable acting. Development of self-control requires right socialization, especially in early childhood. Critics use the examples of politics and businessmen’s that commit crimes. Labeling theory.

The theory claims that acting become deviant only when society defines it deviant. Drug addicts, alcoholics, criminals, sex offenders, retarded people are labeled as deviant people. The consequences of being labeled can be very deep, for example people who are labeled as deviant are more likely to act against social norms as a result of the label. In support of the theory author gives the description of classic study (William Chambliss, 1973) into the effects of labeling.

1- Conclusion.
2- Introduction.
3- Arguments & Explanations & background information.

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"Theories of deviance" StudyScroll, 1 April 2016,

StudyScroll. (2016). Theories of deviance [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 4 June, 2023]

"Theories of deviance" StudyScroll, Apr 1, 2016. Accessed Jun 4, 2023.

"Theories of deviance" StudyScroll, Apr 1, 2016.

"Theories of deviance" StudyScroll, 1-Apr-2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 4-Jun-2023]

StudyScroll. (2016). Theories of deviance. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 4-Jun-2023]

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