Becker: "Outside"

Topics: Sociology, Working class, Sociological terms Pages: 2 (800 words) Published: September 16, 2013
​a) According to Howard Becker, central fact about deviance is that “it is created by society. Becker does not mean that the causes of deviance can be derived from the social environment of the deviant or the “social factors” that causes an individual to engage in deviant behavior. Rather, Becker means that social groups create deviance by creating the rules or norms that must be adhered to and if they are violated—the violation will result in what the group deems as being deviance. Thus, the individuals who go against the norms or rules of a social group will be labeled as being an “outsider”. ​b) According to Becker, a deviant is an individual “to whom that label has successfully been applied”. He asserts that deviance is not a characteristic of the action a person commits; rather it is an outcome of the rules and sanctions used by others to an “outsider” or the reaction of others to an individual’s action. Deviant behavior is deviant when there is an audience that judges it as such. ​c) Becker states that “deviant” is not a homogenous category, because deviance in and of itself is a result of the reactions of others to an individual’s action. Therefore, while one social group may view a particular individual’s action as being deviant, another may not. Deviance is contextual; it depends on the audience that is judging the individual’s action. One cannot assume that every individual who has been deemed as being a “deviant” are the same, because the processing of labeling individuals is not reliable. There are individuals who have been labeled deviant who have not broken a rule, such as individuals who are considered deviant because of their race or religion. Also, one cannot assume that the group of deviants contains individuals who have actually broken a rule, since there are individuals who may have escaped scrutiny and therefore are not included in the category of deviants. ​d) Whether people respond to an act as being deviant depends on several factors, such...
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