The Analysis of Deviance and Crime

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Crimes and deviance are committed by people on a daily basis. Many sociologists have tried to explain the deviant behavior of individuals that may lead up to more serious crimes. Functionalist believes that crime and deviance are due to a lack moral organization within a society, reinforcement theorists suggest that an individual’s deviant behavior is obtained through the influence of others. Control theorists view crime as a chosen act that individuals take advantage of when given the chance. The conflict theory argues that individuals deliberately choose to commit deviant acts in response to political circumstances that they don’t agree with. Finally, the labeling theory claims that “deviant” behavior is the result of certain labels that society has attached to an individual. So which of these five theories best explain the cause of deviance and crime? As Elijah Anderson suggests in his reading “The Code of the Street”, in order to fit in with a specific social group, one must learn how to act according to a set of rules. Those types of rules represent the social “norms” of a society and if one were to disobey those rules, one would be considered deviant. If individuals within a society progressively influence the set rules, then the reinforcement theory will provide the best explanation as to why deviant behaviors are so commonly found amongst different social groups.

Much like the other theories that are described in the text “Essentials of Sociology”, each has its own interpretation as to why deviant behaviors occur. However, the reinforcement theory best describes the acts of deviant behavior when it claims that all individuals are influenced by others committing deviant acts. Reinforcement theorists believe that one’s ability to learn deviant behavior is very similar to one’s ability to learn conventional behaviors. We learn conventional behaviors by observing how others act, only then will we discover what behaviors are normal and what are considered...
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