I think the most accurate sociological explanation of deviance and crime is symbolic interaction. The saying ‘You are a product of the environment you grow up in’ is very true. Sociologist Edwin Sutherland studied deviance from the symbolic interactionist perspective. The basis of his theory of differential association is that deviance is a learned behavior. People learn it from the different groups with which they associate. If you grow up in a family with a life of crime that’s what seems natural to a person. If you were to grow up in a family that worked hard as a productive member of society those values would be distilled in you. The closer the relationship, the more likely someone is to be influenced. Parents who worry that their children are socializing with an undesirable crowd have a justified concern. Example: If a teen changes schools and their new friends smoke marijuana, the new student is more likely to smoke marijuana. On the other hand, if a student moves to a new school where no one smokes marijuana, they are less likely to take up the habit. First proposed by sociologist Howard Becker in the 1960s, labeling theory posits that deviance is that which is so labeled. No status or behavior is inherently deviant until other people have judged it and labeled it deviant. Example: Some parents absolutely prohibit physical punishment of children, such as spanking, while other parents regularly use physical punishment to enforce household rules. Are parents who spank their children deviant? The answer depends on what is considered acceptable behavior in that given household. Though spanking is inherently neither right nor wrong, it is subject to the often harsh judgment of others. I think it is very important to always remember where you came from and how you were raised. Use that knowledge to stand by what you believe in and not let others talk you out of it.
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