Deviance and Social Control
Deviance is a highly researched concept in different fields, such as psychology and sociobiology, attempting to explore it from different perspectives and analyze its causes and impact on individuals and society. Chapter 8 of this course also discusses the concept from a sociological lens and analyzes the various formal and informal reactions to deviant behavior. In line with the information contained in this chapter, the discussion will examine how sociologists view, analyze, and explain the concept of deviance, explore encounters with sanctions, and determine whether there is a problem in the United States criminal justice.
How Sociologists View, Analyze, and Explain the Concept of Deviance
While various fields explain deviance differently, they somewhat agree on its definition. For example, Idris et al. define deviance as any behavior that fails to conform to society’s rules, beliefs, and norms (qtd. in Dullas et al., 2). Norms vary from one community to another; therefore, what is considered deviant in one society may be the norm in another. Deviance may also vary in smaller groups within society because of the population’s different norms and beliefs.
Unlike other fields, sociologists analyze the concept of deviance from an individual’s external perspective. According to chapter 8, sociologists’ explanations search outside the individual by acknowledging that social influences may “recruit” some people to break norms. Essentially, sociologists analyze deviance from the perspective of external forces that trigger it, such as socialization, social classes, or membership in certain groups.
Often, society reacts to deviance in multiple ways or sanctions, as discussed in chapter 8 of this course. These sanctions may be mild or severe such as capital punishment. From personal experience, I have experienced sanctions in the past, such as getting a ticket for parking within five meters of a fire hydrant. This sanction was effective because it taught me a lesson to be more vigilant when parking to avoid paying penalties for a similar offense. As I reflect on the United States criminal justice system, I think it is somewhat flawed because of the disproportionate representation of certain ethnic groups, notably African Americans, in the system.
Dullas, Angelo Reyes, et al. “Determinants of a Variety of Deviant Behaviors: An Analysis of Family Satisfaction, Personality Traits, and Their Relationship to Deviant Behaviors among Filipino Adolescents.” Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 12, no. 1, May 2021, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.645126.