Topics: Sociology, Criminology, Crime Pages: 6 (2353 words) Published: April 21, 2015
The essence of this essay is to critically analyse the statement, “Discuss the role played by the social environment in the creation of deviance in society according to differential association and labelling theory”. It will begin by defining the key terminology being deviance and a discussion on the role that the social environment plays in creation of deviance according to Discuss the role played by the social environment in the creation of deviance in society according to differential association and labelling theory. Lastly a conclusion will be drawn. Deviance is any behavior that violates social norms, and is usually of sufficient severity to warrant disapproval from the majority of society. Deviance can be criminal or non-criminal. The sociological discipline that deals with crime (behavior that violates laws) is criminology (also known as criminal justice). Today some societies consider activities such as alcoholism, excessive gambling, being nude in public places, lying to name only a few as deviant. Thus people who engage in deviant behavior are referred to as deviants. Deviance is looked at in terms of group processes, definitions, and judgments and not just as unusual individual acts. Sociologists also recognize that not all behaviors are judged similarly by all groups. What is deviant to one group may not be considered deviant to another. Further, sociologists recognize that established rules and norms are socially created, not just morally decided or individually imposed. That is, deviance lies not just in the behavior itself, but in the social responses of groups to behavior by others Differential association and labelling theory are the two theories that will be used to explain the role social environment plays in creation of deviance. The theory of differential association is a learning theory that focuses on the processes by which individuals come to commit deviant or criminal acts. According to the theory, created by Edwin H. Sutherland, criminal behavior is learned through interactions with other people. Through this interaction and communication, people learn the values, attitudes, techniques, and motives for criminal behavior. This theory emphasizes the interaction people have with their peers and others in their environment. Those who associate with delinquents, deviants, or criminals learn to value deviance. The greater the frequency, duration, and intensity of their immersion in deviant environments, the more likely it is that they will become deviant. This theory really focuses on how people become criminals, not why they become criminals Differential association is the process of learning some types of deviant behavior requiring specialized knowledge and skill as well as the inclination to take advantage of opportunities to use them in deviant ways. All of this is learned and promoted primarily within groups such as urban gangs or business groups that condone fraud, tax evasion, or insider trading on the stock market. Edwin Sutherland coined the phrase differential association to address the issue of how people learn deviance. According to this theory, the environment plays a major role in deciding which norms people learn to violate. Specifically, people within a particular reference group provide norms of conformity and deviance, and thus heavily influence the way other people look at the world, including how they react. People also learn their norms from various socializing agents: parents, teachers, ministers, family, friends, co‐workers, and the media. In short, people learn criminal behavior, like other behaviors, from their interactions with others, especially in intimate groups. Sutherland stated differential association theory as a set of nine propositions, which introduced three concepts – normative conflict, differential association, and differential group organization – that explain crime at the levels of the society, the individual, and the group. At the level of the society, crime...
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