Various societies’ well-being depends on their ability to conform to specific societal or cultural norms. However, individual action towards these norms is often varied. Individuals may either conform to these norms or violate them. Social deviance refers to the violation of cultural or societal norms, either formally or informally. This paper seeks to discuss social deviance, emphasizing the mechanism of social sanctions as a component of social control and the sociological perspective of social deviance.
Social control is targeted at attaining social order. This can be achieved by sanctioning individuals who do not conform to societal norms (Gibbs, 2022). Sanctions can either be positive or negative. Positive sanctions are rewards or appreciation given to individuals who conform to societal norms. Examples of positive sanctions include gift awards, promotions at job places, certificates of appreciation, medals, and pay raises. These sanctions are aimed at enhancing the morale of these individuals and encouraging them to continue their impressive work. Negative sanctions are punishments given to individuals who do not conform to societal norms (Gibbs, 2022). Examples of negative sanctions include fines, social discrimination, disapproval, and exclusion.
Social sanctions can also be classified as informal or formal. Formal sanctions are official ways in which violations of societal norms can be recognized and enforced. Formal sanctions can either be positive or negative. Examples of positive formal sanctions include official commendation of remarkable service provisions by a caregiver within a hospital setup. Negative formal sanctions include imprisonment for law offenders, suspension from school, termination of job or contract, and fines. Informal sanctions, on the other hand, are those that are not covered under the legal frameworks that govern societal actions but still attract punishment (Gibbs, 2022). They include exclusion from a meeting after misconduct, public ridicule after public misconduct, and public shame after an embarrassing act.
Three sociological perspectives have been established and have formed the basis for these theoretical frameworks. These sociological perspectives are functionalism, conflict theory, and social interactions.
Several theories represent functionalist perspectives. My favorite theory is Emile Durkheim’s The Essential Nature of Deviance theory. This theory asserts that deviance is essential to society and challenges people’s perspectives on contemporary societal issues. This theory is my favorite because it adequately explains the genesis of resenting voices within societies and gives meaning to these resenting voices. It also accords these resenting voices’ validity by explaining their significance within society.
Conflict theory perspectives have been represented by several theories as well. My favorite theory is Karl Marx’s theory of an unequal system. This theory stratifies the population into the wealthy and the bourgeois. The wealthy controlled businesses and means of production, while the bourgeois depended on the wealthy for employment and survival. This theory intrigues me because it accurately presents the social classes existing within the present societies. The wealthy in today’s society is the influential elite who control all sectors of the economy.
Two theories have presented symbolic interactionism. My favorite theory is Edwin Sutherland’s Differential Association theory. This theory asserts that individuals who develop deviant behaviors learn these behaviors from persons close to them. This theory is my favorite because it explains the spread of deviant behaviors among family members. It proves that being close to individuals who exhibit deviant behavior can be learned.
Gibbs, Jack P. “The sociology of deviance and social control.” Social psychology. Routledge, 2017. 483-522
OpenStax College_ Heather Griffiths_ Nathan Keirns_ Eric Strayer_ Susan Cody-Rydzewski_ Gail Scaramuzzo_ Tommy Sadler_ Sally Vyain_ Jeff Bry_ Faye Jones – Introduction to Sociology-OpenStax College (2. pdf. Google Docs. (2022). Retrieved 12 February 2022, from: https://openstax.org/details/books/introduction-sociology-2e
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1. According to sociologist William Graham Sumner, deviance violates established contextual, cultural, or social norms, whether folkways, mores, or codified law (1906).
Social deviance is also a social structure that we can analyze at both macro and micro levels. However, to understand the mechanism of social deviance, we should know the nature of positive, negative, format,l and informal sanctions in social control on page 137 of the online textbook, chapter 7. Read Table 7.1 on page 138 from the online textbook chapter 7 and write your OWN formal/informal, negative/positive sanctions as examples.
2. Sociology analyzes social deviance based on three sociological perspectives, with several studies on social deviance.
Please check the list of studies for each perspective, explain your favorite theories for functionalism, conflict, and symbolic interaction separately, and write why these are your favorites. Please read them from the online textbook, chapter 7.
Functionalism (Macro level of analysis in Sociology): How social deviance creates the function/dysfunction (manifest/latent) in societies and cultures;
-Emile Durkheim: The Essential Nature of Deviance ( page 138 from the online textbook chapter 7)
-Robert Merton: Strain Theory (page 138-138)
-Social Disorganization Theory ( page 139)
-Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay: Cultural Deviance Theory (page 139-140)
Conflict Theory (Macro Level of analysis in Sociology): How social deviance creates inequities/inequalities, social tensions, and power relations in societies and cultures.
-Karl Marx: An Unequal System (page 140)
-C. Wright Mills: The Power Elite (page 140)
-Crime and Social Class (page 140)
Symbolic Interaction (Micro Level of analysis in Sociology): How the social meanings are shared by people in the process of social deviance in societies and cultures.
-Labeling Theory (page 141)
-Edwin Sutherland: Differential Association (page 142)
-Travis Hirschi: Control Theory (page 143)
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