Social Class and Deviant Acts

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Social Class and Deviant Acts

Although the two readings, The Saints and the Roughnecks (Chambliss) and On Being Sane in Insane Places are extremely different, they both have one thing in common: After one has been socially labeled then the person will continue to act as they have been labeled.

While there are many reasons as to why social labeling exists, social class is believed to be on of its biggest influences. Social class influences social labeling because the respect placed upon middle and upper class as opposed to the lower class. Many examples of social labeling based on social class can be found in the reading, The Saints and the Roughnecks by William Chambliss. Also, the reading On Being Sane in Insane Places by D. L. Rosenham goes more in depth about social labeling and how major assumptions are often not backed up by correct data.

In The Practical Skeptic, Lisa McIntyre defines social labeling as “not what you do, but who you are” (McIntyre, 187). Social class plays a major role in the reading by Chambliss. The reading goes in depth to talk about two groups of boys in a community- “The Saints” (upper class) and “The Roughnecks” (lower class). The Saints created multiple deviances weekly. Skipping class, drinking, theft, and vandalism. The Roughnecks, on the other hand, only created frequent disturbances, mostly involving theft and violence. These initial deviances are referred to by sociologists as primary deviances. (McIntyre, 189). Although the upper class group committed more deviant acts than the lower class group, the lower class group always seemed to get into the most trouble. The community saw The Saints as a good group of boys that were headed for success. (Chambliss, 267), and they saw The Roughnecks as “tough, young criminals who were headed for trouble” (Chambliss, 270). Which is exactly what happened. Because of The Roughnecks being labeled as deviant, they became even more so. Sociologists refer to this as secondary...
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