Behavior that is outside of the normally accepted parameters of society is considered deviant behavior. Deviant behavior can range from running a traffic signal to capital murder. The widely accepted norm of society declares these things to be unacceptable. What may be the normal accepted behavior in one society may be different for another. Deviant behavior is dictated by culture and evolution. What was once considered the norm yesterday may not be the norm today. Slavery in the United States was once considered the widely acceptable norm during that period. Today, slavery in the United States is not considered the acceptable norm. Although slavery is not practiced in the United States, it is still a widely acceptable practice in other countries. Men, women and children in countries such as Brazil, Western Europe and West Africa are forced to work under slave like conditions. Women are forced into prostitution, children working in factories and men forced to work for little or no pay at all.
A contributing factor to the perspective on society’s definition of deviant behavior can be link too what society deems as acceptable and unacceptable behavior. The domination and degrading of any human being is morally unacceptable. The constitution of the United States and most other countries has banned slavery. Slavery is an inhuman treatment of other human beings and the Constitution of the United States declares all men are created equal and have the same fundamental rights to live free in the pursuit of happiness. The functionalist perspective to deviant behavior asserts that deviant behavior is necessary for a balanced society. It set the parameters for what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior. The major distinction between functionalist and all other approaches believes ordinary crime is not a threat to the social order. In fact, society needs criminal behavior (and legal responses to it) to function properly. The interactionist perspective offers two approaches to deviant and criminal behavior-cultural transmission and routine activities theory.
Interaction through primary groups of association influences behavior whether proper or improper. Individuals who are exposed to continual acts of deviant behavior are more likely find this behavior expectable. Edwin Sutherland a sociologist used the term differential association to describe exposure to criminal attitudes that lead to the violation of rules which define deviant behavior. Research has shown the influence towards negative exposure to deviant groups or acts has an impact on social behavior. The conflict perspective is based upon the view that the fundamental causes of crime are the social and economic forces operating within society. The criminal justice system and criminal law are thought to be operating on behalf of rich and powerful social elites, with resulting policies aimed at controlling the poor. The criminal justice establishment aims at imposing standards of morality and good behavior created by the powerful on the whole of society.
Focus is on separating the rich and powerful from poor and weak who would steal from others and protecting themselves from physical attacks. In the process the legal rights of poor folks might be ignored. The middle class are also co-opted; they side with the elites rather the poor, thinking they might themselves rise to the top by supporting the status quo. Thus, street crimes, even minor monetary ones are routinely punished quite severely, while large scale financial and business crimes are treated much more lenient. Theft of a television might receive a longer sentence than stealing millions through illegal business practices.
I am an African American male born in the middle sixties. I come from a solid family background with a rich history and moderate means. In the area where I was born and raised my family is well known. But, on a larger scale as with most black families in America my family history dates back to slavery. During my childhood and teen years I excelled in sports and academics. I achieved a starting position at the quarterback position as a freshman and ran on the varsity track team. After high school I joined the navy and quickly achieved rank during my six year tour. After military service I achieved a position as a lab tech at a chemical company until my current position as a youth pastor. I am also a college student. I am a husband and father. As a youth pastor that has become my master status. This is a title that supersedes my ascribed and achieved statuses. I don’t believe my ascribed status is a necessarily a role that I play but a label society has tagged me with. How I was born and the circumstances and condition in which I was born was beyond my control.
As a black man I believe I have a responsibility to represent my race and culture in a respectable way. I also have a responsibility to my family heritage. My achieved status is what I worked for and what I continue to work for towards building a stronger future. I believe my master status is my most important, because it brings the other statuses into perspective. My role as pastor and most importantly a man of God help me balance my other roles and makes me a better person. A role conflict occurred when I was a head football coach and my coaching staff consisted of close friends. The conflict came when I had to address complaints from parents about one of the coaches who happened to be a family member. I had to separate my family relationship and perform my duty as a head coach and address this concern which was a valid one. The strain of the coaching position became strained when it conflicted with my work schedule and family life. I could no longer absorb the demands it required. I could no longer affectively be the head coach when my time with the team became limited. My role as a youth pastor would cause me the most difficulty in terms of role exit. I have established great relationships with members of my church and a bond with the youth. My role as youth pastor will eventually change when I become a full pastor. I believe that will be the most difficult experience.
The approval of a certain behaviors depends on the societal culture, which essentially gives approval, or otherwise, to certain behavior. Consequently, it is obligatory to delineate deviance as behavior that violates some of the social norms, including some of the rules that follow formal enactments. To consider a behavior as a deviant behavior, it is necessary to take into account the societal norms. Newman (2011) categorizes deviant behavior as deeds that assault the morals and norms of the society, of which the society must not endorse (Newman, 2011). Some of the behaviors that society does not approve of are crime related, which are not necessarily deviant, but do not conform to the norms of society. Some of the deviant behaviors are manipulative in nature, others elicit mistrust between the people that interact and others are devious, but not criminal.
In relation to the United States’ society, it is possible to consider behavior like suicide, abortion, bystander apathy, wearing clothes meant for the opposite sex or picking your nose then wiping the nasal mucus on the wall as deviant. These behaviors are considered deviant since they do not conform to the expectation of the American society. When society considers the behavior of an individual as deviant, the consideration traps the person through some condemnations or labels the society attaches to them. In order to have an adequate understanding of deviance, the paper will focus on the behavior of nose picking, then wiping the nasal mucus on the wall. The paper will analyze some of the elements of the behavior in relation to labeling theory, while taking a constructionist approach in the analysis.
Nose picking is not a strange habit to the society since quite a number of people engage in it. However, when an individual goes to the extent of wiping the nasal mucus on the walls of a building, which might be a public utility building, then this behavior is a deviation from the expectations of the society. This behavior might offend some of the people witnessing the act, which is also an unhygienic behavior. The offended might act by condemning the behavior since it does not conform to their expectation. According to the expectation of the society, an individual should be able to use a handkerchief to pick the nose, which is the culturally acceptable and hygienic behavior that is recognizable in the American society.
Violations of some of the societal norms are punishable legally, with some of the institutions involved including correctional institutions, the judiciary and the police (Goode, 2011). However, the involvement of such institutions is applicable when the behavior is criminal in nature. For the behavior in focus, correcting the offender might be possible through condemning the act verbally, which is a consideration that seeks to prevent the continuity of the behavior. The absence of societal laws that prevent this behavior is likely to subject the society at a state of disarray, which means that deviating from the norms of the society by participating in such an act might affect the population negatively. This gives an impression that the societal culture does not approve of this behavior, thereby considering it as deviant behavior.
With the consideration that the analysis of the paper takes the constructionist approach, it is vital to take into account the three assumptions of the approach. The assumptions include relativism, subjectivism and voluntarism. The relativist view of the constructionist approach holds that the deviant behavior does not exhibit intrinsic characteristics, unless there are thoughts that these characteristics exist (Goode, 2011). Consequently, when an individual picks his or her nose, then wipes the nasal mucus on the wall, the behavior is not inherent in the individual. This means that the individual’s action might appear deviant since other people refer to it as such. For this reason, people against such a behavior will assign a label to it, which discourages others from engaging in such behavior.
On the other hand, voluntarism holds that when a person engages in deviant behavior, he or she does so willingly. This assumption takes recognition of the fact that factors that might influence the individual to act in defiance to the societal norms are neither from the internal nor external environment. It is through the will of the individual that he or she will behave in such a manner. Consequently, subjectivism portrays the action as subjective in nature. The aim of subjectivism is to have an understanding of the personal view of the deviant in order to have the knowledge of how they see the world (Goode, 2011). When the deviant picks his or her nose and wipes the mucus on the walls, it is necessary to have an understanding of how they view the action through getting their personal view on the act. This might give some information on their perception of the same.
When relating the behavior in focus to labeling theory, it is necessary to consider the fact that this behavior is applicable as a deviant behavior only when the society labels it as deviant. The members of the society responsible for interpreting specified behaviors in the society as deviant attach the label to the corresponding individuals to determine the feature between deviance and non-deviance. In this case, the labeled person is the one who engages in the deviant behavior. Social research has relative indications that the individuals with negative labels on regular occasions have exposure to lower self-image and may reject themselves because of the label. Giving a label to such behavior is one way of ensuring the continuity of the societal culture, which is vital for curbing any form of divergence to the societal norms.
The aspect of sociology focuses on the perspective of societal cause and effects of deviance. Labeling theory is applicable in delineating the causes of such behavior with a process by which both formal and informal labels affect behavior over time through self-concept (Browning, 2008). The theory suggests that the imposition of deviant behavior emanates from social group constructs, which define the norms and values that guide behavior. From the assumptions of the theory, it is possible to label people who violate the norms as outsiders. The labeling of an individual as a deviant is possible only if there is a reaction from the society that negates the behavior (Browning, 2008)…
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