Marxian vs. Positivism Perspectives
Crime and deviance are issues that dominate the public’s imagination; the study of which involves a number of contributing disciplines, criminology, statistics, psychology, biology to name a few but the largest contributor is sociology. There have been major changes in the way Sociologists perceive and study deviance over the years. In this essay the author will briefly compare and contrast the perspectives of Marxian and Positivism as they relate to the issues of crime and deviant behavior. The author will offer her opinion as to which perspective she feels best relates to her understanding of crime and deviance.
According to Goode (2011), deviance is an analytic category; humans evaluate one another according to a number of criteria, including beliefs, behavior and physical traits. If according to the judgment of a given audience doing the evaluation, someone holds the “wrong” attitude, engages in the “wrong” behavior, or possesses the “wrong” traits or characteristics, he or she will be looked down upon, treated in a negative, punishing, and condemnatory fashion. Deviance and crime are linked in an explicit sense because all crime is technically considered deviant behavior, but not all deviant behavior is criminal. A crime is any act which breaks the formal, written laws of a state; formal sanctions (or punishments) await those involved in either committing a crime, or allowing such acts to take place; deviance is any act that breaks society’s unwritten rules, or expected ‘norms’ of behavior (non-conformist behavior); informal sanctions may await those who transgress (Vandenburgh, 2004). Numerous social scientists have studied human behavior in an attempt to figure out why people commit deviant acts; according to Goode (2011), “When sociologists look at normative violations and censure of the violator, they think along two tracks and investigate two types of questions” (p.14). Sociologists refer to these two...
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