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In explaining DEVIANCE, how do certain perspectives differ in their ideas of what is considered to be deviant behavior (i.e., statistical, absolutist, reactivist and normative perspectives)? What is considered deviant behavior? Are there other views and theories? Please identify and explain and include references.
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From four different perspectives, this solution explains what is considered to be deviant behavior through the lenses of the statistical, absolutist, reactivist and normative proponents. Several other theoretical perspectives on deviance (e.g., Hirschi, Sutherland, labeling theory, social control theory, Thomas Szaz, to name a few) are also explained through an exceptional supplementary article.
1. In explaining DEVIANCE, how do certain perspectives differ in their ideas of what is considered to be deviant behavior (i.e., statistical, absolutist, reactivist and normative perspectives)? What is considered deviant behavior? Are there other views and theories? Please identify and explain and include references. In explaining DEVIANCE, how do certain perspectives differ in their ideas of what is considered to be deviant behavior (i.e., statistical, absolutist, reactivist and normative perspectives)? What is considered deviant behavior?
Interesting question! Let's take a closer look.
Statistical: What everyone does is "normal" or non-deviant. Whatever is in the statistical minority is deviant. For example, subcultures of drug users are statistically different when compared to those who do not use drugs, so drug use is considered deviant and not using drugs is considered 'normal.'
Absolutist: What is deviant is a value judgment based on absolute standards. Certain things are deviant because they have always been deviant (because of tradition or custom). For example, abortion is wrong because of the absolute law: thou shalt not kill.
Reactivist: Whatever is reacted against (or labeled) by a social audience to behavior is deviant. For example, when people reacted to the effects of marijuana, marijuana use became deviant and illegal.
Normative: What is deviant depends on a group's notion of what "ought" or should" not be. This is a situational conception; the conception can change as situations do. For example, people and society thought that marijuana was 'okay' to consume and was sold in the drug store and considered okay to use. Then, when the effects become know, it was no longer 'okay' (e.g. wrong or bad) and then the society as a 'group' decided people "ought" NOT to use marijuana because of the negative effects and because it was eventually illegal.
Interestingly, what may be considered deviant to one population may not be considered deviant by others. For example, in some cultures drinking is thought to be a sin and therefore deviant. In many western cultures drinking is thought of as entertainment and therefore considered normal behavior. Is there really such a thing then as a "criminal mind" or a "criminal profile" when what is considered criminal or deviant changes across time and culture? If drugs were legalized, for example, many of the people now considered to be deviant and/or criminals, would no longer be labeled as "criminals" or deviant, but as "normal".
(Source: Clinard, M.B., & Meier, R. F (1995). "Sociology of deviant behavior (9th ed.). New York: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.)
Please see the article below which gives an excellent coverage of deviance.
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Extra Reading: Article
WHAT IS DEVIANCE?
Deviance is the recognized violation of cultural norms. One familiar type of deviance is crime, or the violation of norms a society formally enacts into criminal law. A subcategory of crime is termed juvenile delinquency, or the violation of legal standards by the young. Deviance encompasses a wide range of other acts of nonconformity, from variations in hair styles to murder.
Social Control Deviant people are subject to social control, or how members of a society try to influence each other's behavior. A more formal and multifaceted system of social control, the criminal justice system, refers to a formal response to alleged violation of law on the part of police, courts, and prison officials.
The Biological Context During the later part of the nineteenth century, Caesare Lombroso, an Italian physician who worked in prisons, suggested that criminals have distinctive physical traits. He viewed them as "evolutionary throwbacks to lower forms of life." His research was scientifically flawed. Several decades later, Charles Goring, a British psychiatrist, conducted a scientific comparison of prisoners and people living in society and found no overall physical differences.
During the middle of this century, William Sheldon suggested that body structure was a critical link to criminal behavior. Subsequent research by Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck supported this argument; however, they suggested body structure was not the cause of the delinquency.
Since the 1960s new knowledge in the field of genetics has rejuvenated interest in the study of biological causes of criminality. The connection between a specific pattern of chromosomes has been shown to be related to deviant behavior. However, in its attempt to explain crime in terms of physical traits alone, this approach provides a limited understanding of its causes. Overall, research findings suggest genetic and social influences are significant in affecting the patterns of deviant behavior in society.
Personality Factors Psychological explanations of deviance concentrate on individual abnormalities involving personality. The containment theory posits the view that juvenile delinquency (among boys) is a result of social pressure to commit deviant acts in the absence of moral values and a positive self-image. Longitudinal research conducted by Walter Reckless and Simon Dintz during the 1960s supported this conclusion.
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