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Deviants and Deviancy

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Do consider the following behaviors to be deviant: suicide, abortion, homosexuality, prostitution, and drug use. If so, on what basis? If not, why? Come up with specific circumstances for each of these behaviors that might affect whether it constitutes deviance or acceptable behavior.

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On Deviance

What is deviance? A society, a social group has an established set of rules that govern what is moral, what is ethical, what is right, what is acceptable. Conversely, what does not fall into these labels and are opposite of them are labelled so. For every moral behavior there is an immoral equivalent, for every ethical behavior and position there is an unethical opposite. Same goes for what is wrong which is labelled as opposing what is right. These standards have come in place established by the continued experience of a social group via their history, via their culture, practices and traditions. Consider a Catholic community. Their standards in relation to what is ethical, moral, right and acceptable is based or influenced heavily by their beliefs side by side with the legal systems governing the nation and community they belong to. The most important concept to understand in establishing the definition of deviance is culture. Culture is those practices, traditions, histories and languages shared and established over time by a group of people. It is a very unique set of norms and traditions and those that practice it find membership and identity when they do so - it becomes a basis for ethnic identity.

Consider national culture for example - Thai, Italian, Chinese - they all are a set of traditions and practices built over time, over shared experiences that have cemented itself among a set of peoples who have acknowledged upon themselves membership of that culture and in doing so take it up, live it and understand what is right and wrong from it making it their basis of viewing the world. So when one says I am Thai, it comes with an understanding that Thais are Buddhists and are a people known for being tolerant, hardworking but a stickler to traditions and respect for family, the elders and social organization. Thais do the 'wai' always to show respect to elders and people in authority (the act of clasping the hands as if in prayer and bowing in obeisance). In so doing they give honor to people and show ...

Solution Summary

The solution is a comprehensive 1,589-word narrative that discusses the topic of deviance. It defines what deviance and a deviant is all about then proceeds to discuss the listed deviant behaviors: suicide, abortion, homosexuality, prostitution, and drug use - whether in fact they are deviant, and if so, why. The possibility of there behaviors being acceptable is also discussed in relation to the circumstances that might make them so. References are also listed to give students room to explore the topic.

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See Also This Related BrainMass Solution

Examining a "Social Deviant"

Society Case Study Project

John Rommel was born in 1955 to a lower class family in New York. His father had immigrated over to the United States from Germany prior to the rise of Hitler in 1933. He desired to show pride in his new country, so he worked hard at the docks to earn a living for his family. While he was never made much, he always stressed pride in his work and obeyed the law. He believed this was a firm foundation for becoming successful.

John always showed a bright mind and highly intuitive nature, but he never showed any desire for schooling. He saw society as an unfair, unforgiving system that repressed those of lower social status. John was not a violent person; he considered himself very honorable, but he did not have a desire to work like his father did, earning low wages for hours of tedious work to support his family. Instead, he opted for more illegal endeavors—gambling, stealing, and even dabbling in organized crime. However, he never told his father because he did not want to disrespect his family. When he turned 17, he became a drug-runner for the Gambino family because a couple of his close “brothers” had become involved in the business as well.

Soon John became involved with more than just drug running; he began to assist the family with offering “protective services” to different shops and businesses in Brooklyn’s lower east side. Should the businesses miss a payment or refuse their help, he would instigate certain actions against the business to cause severe damage, enough to ensure the business owner would seek their protection from then on.

Eventually, John’s employment with organized crime caught up to him as he was arrested at the age of 25. When he appeared in court, his defense suggested that he plead guilty as the prosecution had enough evidence to convict him anyway. When he was sentenced the judge decided to send him to prison for five years, with a potential of being released after three years for good behavior. John noticed his parents sitting in the audience at the hearing, and he began to feel a great sense of shame for what he had done and believed he had brought shame to his family.

Based on what you have just read, answer the following questions:
1. Why would John be considered a deviant? What social foundations of deviance appear to be evident in this case?
2. Examine the three theoretical foundations of deviance (structural-functional, symbolic-interaction, and social-conflict). Determine which foundation applies to John’s situation and why. Give specific examples.
3. Choose three theories, one within each theoretical foundation, that apply to this case. If a foundation does not have an applicable theory, state why and what behavior could have been exhibited that would have reflected that.

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