Imagine a ‘society of saints’, without crime, a notion put forward by Emile Durkheim a historical theorist who argued that this concept is unattainable within society. Social control is and has been present in all societies, organized groups, and cultures since the beginning of time. There are many historical and modern perspectives, which help draw conclusions on the study of deviance and social control, two concepts that go hand in hand. In discussing the connection between social control and deviance, it will reveal why Durkheim’s notion, that in a ‘society of saints’, crime will be found, is very true.
Deviance is a word that has instinctively bad connotations around it, to know someone that is deviant is to know someone who has acted in an unacceptable manner. However, who are we to judge, in whose eyes makes a particular act deviant, and who makes the rules around deviance? These questions formulate the answer to why a ‘society of saints’ is an unattainable goal (Roach Anleu 2006, p17). Theories to why humans act out in different ways, has been disputed since the 1800’s, and no exact answer is available to this question. With all of the studies that have been performed, no one group has come up with an exact reason to why people behave deviantly, or what permits one person to label an action deviant. There is no exact definition or answer, why deviance exists, or created in societies (Southern Cross University Study Guide, p.10). However, the psychological perspective, biological perspective, and the sociological perspective, may help determine social processes and phenomena’s.
Our societies have changed and evolved since theorist have tried to give reason to why and how people participate in communities and organized groups. Some perspectives have become less relevant, as we become familiar with and accept new terms and concepts. Some theorists believe that the study of deviance has reached the end, and are a concept used for a particular social and political time. Sociologists such as Bendle, Miller, Wright, and Sumner all shared this assumption (Roach Anleu 2006, p. 2). Deviance is just as important today as it was then. Just as society’s norms and value have changed and evolved, so has the concept of deviance and social control. Past judgments of what constituted deviance and or deviant behaviors in a particular culture or society could now be seen as acceptable. Communities and societies who once relied on informal methods to ensure order and conformity may now rely on more formal methods, as society is becoming more and more complex. Cohen suggests ‘no behavior is inherently deviant’, he also suggests that deviance will always be considered different from one society to another depending on the time and social context (Southern Cross University Study Guide, 2009, p 5). Three concepts vital to understanding deviance are social control, conformity and
social problems. Social control comprises all the mechanisms that are set up to achieve conformity, the antithesis of deviance. The term social problems applies to many of the substantive issues that deviance encompasses (Deviance Conformity and Control, Roach Anleu, S.L. 2006, p. 19) Durkheim, played a vital part in sociology as a whole, his theories focused on social facts, social structures, cultural norms, and values, all of which he argued are external to the individual
Imagine a society of saints, a perfect cloister of exemplary individuals. Crime, [or
deviance] properly so called, will there be unknown; but faults which appear
venial to the layman will create there the same scandal that the ordinary offence
does in ordinary consciousness. If, then, this society has the power to judge and
punish, it will define these acts as criminal [or deviant] and will treat them as such
(1938, cited in Roach Anleu 2006 p.39) It is this claim that deviance and social control go hand in hand. One cannot be without the other. If we did not have social control, we...
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