Sociology: Deviance Essay

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”Deviance refers to any behaviour that is considered to be violating social norms or to persons that engage in such behaviour” (Adler & Adler (2009: 21). Deviance does not just occur to any form of behaviour, but we need to bear in mind the fact that behaviour or people that are deviant are only defined as deviant if and only if society views that particular behaviour as deviant (Adler & Adler (2009: 21). Deviance can either be positive, which is over conformity but is at the same time positively evaluated by the audience (Heckert, 1998: 23). There is also negative deviance, which is under conformity but on the other hand negatively evaluated, rate-busting, which refers to those individuals who under conform but are negatively evaluated by society and there is also another term referred to as deviance admiration, which is the “bad boy” image, which is under-conformity but somehow admired and positively evaluated by society or groups in society (Heckert, 1998: 23). Deviance has no fixed definition but instead, it is broad and has various definitions linked to the term. There are however 5 basic definitions for deviance in sociology namely, the Reactive constructionist approach, the Normative approach, Violation of rights, Absolutist approach and lastly, the Statistical approach. The reactive constructionist approach focuses on the reactions of an audience, which is society to certain behaviours. This is when behaviour is only considered deviant if it has been condemned by society. It involves publicly labelling behaviour as deviant and also followed by an equally negative reaction by the public (Dodge, 1985: 18). The normative approach on the other hand defines deviance as a “departure” or going against the set or generally accepted norms in society (Dodge, 1985: 20). Usually, the norm that has been violated is not usually put into place or is not usually in existence until a behaviour, which society reacts to, is seen as unacceptable and therefore deviant and then the norm is put into place and into existence after such occurrences. The statistical approach focuses on the behaviours that differ from average or normal experiences of society. In this case, the deviant individual or group of individuals engages in behaviour that the majority of the people do not engage in (Heckert, 1998: 25). This form of approach is mainly applied when analysing organisations. With the violation of rights approach, behaviour is considered deviant if it, in any way, violates the rights of any other individual. The individual or individuals that are considered are labelled and they receive a negative reaction from society for their behaviour. Lastly, the absolutist approach of deviance claims that deviance resides in the very nature of an act and is wrong at all times and in all places (Heckert, 1998: 28). It does not have to depend on the environment, the reaction of the audience or the punishment and severity of the act. Principles of right and wrong are applied and an act is deviant once it goes against those principles. With the case of Amanda, who was heavily criticised by the public for killing her sister by stabbing her with a bread knife, the reactive constructionist theory is most applicable because according to her mother, she was just an innocent girl, who made a terrible mistake and her family did not battle forgiving her, but because the media reacted in a certain way, which was negative and the reaction eventually spread and influenced the rest of society in which they started condemning Amanda and making her life miserable, to the extent that she also condemned herself and started hating herself to the point where she believed she was evil and deserved to die. Another issue with deviance is the issue of stigma. Stigma refers to the negative gap or some form of division between the deviant individuals and the people who are not deviant or do not go against the norms of society (Goffman, 1963: 3). There is...
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