crime and deviance

Topics: Sociology, Criminology, Anomie Pages: 6 (2075 words) Published: March 27, 2014
This essay seeks to interrogate the assertion that ‘deviance like beauty is in the eyes of the beholder’, the construction of crime and deviance being the basis of the argument. The aforementioned assertion means that deviance is relative, vis-à-vis what some people consider normal others consider deviant and vice versa. According to Schaefer(2010) deviant behavior that violates social norms. Henslin (1998) explicitly defines deviance as all violations of social rules regardless of their seriousness whilst crime is the violation of codified laws. Hence the difference of cultures and norms between societies, groups, classes bring difference in societal expectations. Other scholars are of the view that crime and deviance emanate from social reaction, strain caused by the society, social transformation and interaction just to mention a few. Conversely some scholars avow that it is rather biological and psychological factors. Therefore this essay will delve into their all these matters. To begin with, deviance is not based on the act but on the reaction to that act. It is a matter of definitions, where the same act is interpreted differently by two parties. Behaviors must be viewed from the frame work of the culture they take place. According to Sutherland human beings learn how to behave in a social situation whether properly or improperly Schaeffer (2010) .According to this theory , people learn to deviate or conform to societal norms due to association, thus through social interaction, interacting with his or her immediate environment. For example, family plays an important role in a young person’s life and has a major influence on delinquency. Parents are likely to exert the most influence on the child’s perception of himself or herself Ramsar (1996).Positive responses from the parents , such as love and warmth contribute to positive self image. On the other hand , negative responses such as lack of warmth and parental love contribute to the child’s, self image negatively .Such a child is more susceptible to the influences of delinquent groups and to deviant behavior. The statistics found by Beck, Kline et al(1988) showed that families involved in crime set their children on a lawbreaking path. Horowitz (1983,1987) noticed how young man in the lower class Chicano neighborhood in Chicago fought a lot to protect their honor, of which to many societies it is violence. The behavior of such ‘deviant’ individuals to them is normal due to acclimatization to such behavior but to the mainstream society it is wrong. Symbolic Interactionists say that people produce their own orientations to life the choice of membership, differential association, helps shape an individual. Therefore this cements the notion that ‘deviance lies in the eyes of the beholder’. Furthermore, people are shown to have the ability to make choices hence if one turns to a deviant behavior they find solace in such acts. Reckless (1973) developed the control theory that stresses that two control systems work against our motivations to deviate. Inner controls, which include an individual’s internalized morality and conscience, are against the outer controls which consists of groups or individuals, such as family; friends and the police, who influence us not to deviate. Hirschi (1969) notes that the more that people feel bonds with society the more effective their inner controls are. This can all be summarized as self-control which can be learnt through socialization. However people of the lower class are bound to have a lesser bond with society hence in so doing they try to better their living conditions through any means possible thus they deviate from societal ways or norms. However it would be anecdotal to conclude with fingers just pointing at the lower class individual for there is also white collar crime by people of higher classes hence most if not everyone in society has a deviant characteristic. It is then a matter of say putting to scale the...

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