Deviant Behavior and Social Control
Deviance is only considered to be deviance when the actions go against what are
considered the norms of the group. Is a group of cannibals in the South American jungle
eating fellow human beings considered deviant behavior? Is kissing your loved one in a
public place to show affection considered deviant behavior? What about a person laying
down a small rug and praying wherever they are at certain times throughout the day.
There is no definite answer to the questions previously posed. Deviant behavior is a part
of every society, but is it a necessary part of society and what causes it? There are many
theories on what may cause deviance, but no single one is correct. This deviant and
criminal behavior is what led to the emergence of certain laws, and it is these laws that
govern the punishment for the crime. Felony crimes in the United States can range from
murder to burglary, both come with penalties of imprisonment. There are four main
goals of imprisonment, one of which is rehabilitation. The statistics show that this goal
of rehabilitation is not being achieved because inmates being released have a high rate
of committing a crime within three years. Is imprisonment the proper punishment for
certain crimes? I pose the following questions for discussion:
What makes for deviant behavior and what are the theories behind
What type of crimes exist in the United States?
What parts of the court and prison system are effective, and which
parts are ineffective?
1. What makes for deviant behavior, and what are the theories behind deviance?
Truthfully, deviance is only in the eyes of the beholder. In India it is considered
a highly sexual act to kiss your loved one and is only done in the confines of privacy. If
someone were to get on the ground and start praying during certain times in public in the
United States, they would be looked upon with views of anything from disgust to
misunderstanding. The act of cannibalism is something that is looked upon negatively in
almost every society. There is both positive and negative affects of deviant behavior on a
society. On the positive side it will force a group to become more organized, help clarify
their beliefs, and develop the norms. On the negative side it will weaken the trust, make
situations unpredictable, and cause for the reallocation of resources (Tischler, p.140).
There are theories to as why deviant behavior exists and they are put into three main
focus areas: biological theories of deviance, psychological theories of deviance, and
sociological theories of deviance.
The biological theory of deviance focuses on the traits that were inherited
(Tischler, p.143). Certain sociologists developed their theories based on the size and
shape of one’s body. Lesare Lombroso studied the skulls of criminals and concluded
that they had more of an ape like shape. William H. Sheldon followed Lombroso’s lead
and categorized humans in three body types: endomorphic, ectomorphic, and
mesomorphic. He concluded that endomorphs were relaxed, ectomorphs tend to be
timid, and mesomorphs are aggressive. He also studied juvenile boys and saw that the
mesomorphs were more likely to be delinquent. The most recent studies have stated that
traits are passed from parent to child that cause the child to be more susceptible to
impulsive and negative acts. They also show that poor parenting could cause a lower
serotonin level, which leads to aggressive behavior.
There are three main psychological theories; psychoanalytic, behavioral, and
crime as individual choice. They focus on the factors of the role of parents and one’s
early life. Sigmund Freud developed the psychoanalytic theory which focuses on
someone’s unconscious. He suggests that there are three parts...
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