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Deviance and Social Control

A social norm is a consensus among people on what constitutes appropriate behavior. Cultural standards can exist in both unstructured and formalized forms. Concepts that describe individual interactions include a strong emphasis on the social normative effects, or social norms, as primary drivers of individual behavioral interventions. Norms are woven into the fabric of communities. In contrast to ideas, attitudes, and values, which might be partially owned and therefore do not automatically relate to conduct, standards are socially shared opinions concerning behavior. Culture, social class, and historical background all have a role in determining norms. As a result, the paper seeks to explore deviation and social control, explaining its concepts and how they relate to deviance and social control.

Deviant behavior is conduct that defies social standards and elicits unfavorable social responses. Various societies and countries formulate written laws prohibiting some actions because they are deemed detrimental. Crime is a sort of deviance that many Americans are concerned about in their localities. It violates the laws and regulations that the government uses to prevent deviant actions (McIntosh). As criminal activity and deviancy elicit negative social responses, individuals are reminded of the need to enforce social standards in their everyday interactions. General societal efforts toward preventing and punishing deviant conduct are known as social control. In the same way that a culture like the United States has traditional and nontraditional rules, it has traditional and nontraditional social control. As a general principle, informal social control is being used to regulate conduct incompatible with unwritten rules. In contrast, formal social control is used to manage behaviors inconsistent with established norms. In most cases, individuals are reluctant to defy unwritten rules since they are concerned about the responses of others who could be offended by our conduct (McIntosh). Therefore, informal social control, such as rage, social exclusion, and scorn, may be found in these responses when it comes to social control in various countries. As a result, judicial power is often involved, and the various regulatory authorities make up society’s regulatory structure.

Some individuals in society urge that deviance is common to individuals in society. They suggest that a community cannot coexists without cases of deviance, and it should be a normal aspect. Such societies cannot prevent individuals from violating the already existing social norms. Another aspect that seeks to define why deviance is common and ordinary in the community is because the society, deviation serves several vital purposes; nevertheless, every given civilization creates its definitions of deviance and those who perpetrate them (McIntosh). Even though this kind of deviation is common, some individuals are more predisposed to it than others. Furthermore, certain localities inside a particular culture have higher amounts of deviance than others; for instance, urban areas in the United States exhibit greater rates of violent crime when compared to the rural regions in the same country. It’s vital to remember that the above example illustrates an essential fact regarding the relevance of deviation: the conditions under which activity happens, not its nature, determine if it is regarded abnormal. While it’s possible that conversing with a monk might be frowned upon, it’s a given that it’s perfectly acceptable elsewhere. Assaulters who kill someone, such as a teenage boy, risk prison and perhaps death in several jurisdictions. However, the military is regarded as a hero if they kill another man in battle. Therefore, the circumstances and motivations for the killing decide if the perpetrator is punished or given an award, yet killing may happen in either case.

Symbolic interaction perspective

One of the most important theoretical frameworks in sociology is the symbolic interaction viewpoint or symbolic interactionism. Individuals’ symbolic meanings, which they construct via social contact, are central to such a view. Societal issues are examined through the lens of symbolic interaction theory, which focuses on the personal interpretations that individuals place on things, events, and actions. Even though it is considered that individuals’ actions are influenced by what they think instead of what is factually true, personal interpretations take precedence. As a result, society is seen as a product of human perception (McIntosh). The social tie is formed through individuals’ perceptions of one another’s actions. Therefore, the interpretation of the circumstance is a term used to describe various views of the current situation. As an elaboration of the theory, constructivism holds the truth of what individuals make it out to be through their mental constructions. They are indeed the social constructions possessing the meanings commonly accepted or largely acknowledged by most people in the community. These are the social constructs that will endure throughout existence. Therefore, it is a common method for determining what is considered inappropriate in society.

Functionalist perspective

Functionalism views a community as a system of interconnected pieces, all working together to provide social cohesion and stability. As a broad perspective, this one focuses on the entire and examines its structure and functioning, allowing for a more holistic view of society. Conventions, practices, rituals, and structures all have a role in society’s overall operation; this is the focus of functionalism. Deviance has two key functions for the structural-functionalist to establish social stability. First and foremost, mechanisms for identifying and penalizing deviations serve to establish standards and guidelines for individuals in the community, outlining what behaviors are acceptable and what are not (McIntosh). As a result, to prevent upsetting the social order, it is essential to be conscious of the acts that are considered abnormal. It is also important to note that such social factors establish barriers between communities and foster various groups’ “we against them” mindset. Most people unify behind universalism because of deviance; individuals labeled as deviant lose out. As a result, on the other hand, being labeled a “deviant” by some people in the society may also strengthen your community’s bonds as people claim control of the stigmatized identity or form their unique tight groups.

Conflict Perspective

Conflict theory holds that community is constituted by a battle for power between social categories vying for diminishing materials supplies. It is better described in the perspective of feminism as males striving to retain influence and power at the expense of females. There is a clear difference between males and females in this regard. Gender stereotypes might be suitable in explorer societies, but conflict theorists say that the dominant group automatically tries to protect its position and power. Conflict theory holds that oppressive or exploitative ruling groups are the root of all societal ills. Therefore, the perspective is optimal because it proposes adjustments in the power system, pushing for equal power distribution across genders. Concerning conflict perceptive, deviant conduct refers to activities that defy the rules of society (McIntosh). As a result, the person and the society come to a standstill when changing social standards. The middle class may overlook constitutional protections for the inferior, which may stand with the authorities rather than those who are less fortunate. Therefore, conflict theory is founded on the belief that current societal and economic dynamics have a major role in causing misbehavior.

Medicalization of Deviance

When formerly non – prescribed components of society are seen as medical conditions or sicknesses, they are referred to as medicalization. Some of life’s most frequent occurrences, such as birth and death, have been medicalized, bodily changes (such as the onset of old age or menopause), and mental health issues (such as depression and anxiety). As a result, the medicalization of deviant behavior refers to how non-normative or ethically criticized appearances, beliefs such as mental disease, racism, and actions are brought within medical decision-making. For millennia, people have identified the subcategories of deviance known as crazy, stupidity, craziness, mental disease, and psychiatric condition. Dementia, anxiety, unipolar depression, bipolar disease, paranoia, hysteria, and other particular designations have been used at different historical points, as have more current diagnoses such as obsessive-compulsive behavior, autism, and ADHD. A person with a serious mental illness is generally seen as a risk to himself and the rest of society (McIntosh). According to the theory, in response to mental health institutions, to a considerable part, is a social crisis. Many mentally ill patients are discharged from the facilities with little or no follow-up care, and many end up on the streets. Therefore the pharmaceuticalization of mental disease refers to the societal reaction to a mental condition.

In conclusion, every society has its collection of social norms that guide the community. Deviance and social control are essential elements in every society, even though individuals cannot refrain from breaking them. They seek to regulate or contain some form of conduct that individuals perceive to be harmful to the societal way of living. Therefore, every individual in society must embrace these aspects to eliminate crimes and avoid tough judicial punishments.

Works Cited

McIntosh, Mary, and Paul Rock, eds. Deviance and social control. Vol. 18. Routledge, 2018.


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