Deviant behavior encompasses various actions and practices which are against the societal norms which include the implemented rules and the open social norms violation. The paper looks into the issue of deviance and social behavior concerning various theories of deviance which have been laid out by multiple scholars. There is a popular argument that deviance lies in the beholder’s eyes, but after detailed research, that was found out to be wrong. Deviance is an adopted abnormality which sociologists and scientists have been trying to find solutions to it for decades, but have seen none. There are about seven significant deviance theories which have different perspectives and opinions on the issue of deviance. This paper looks into an example of deviance and relates it to the Sutherland and Cressey’s theory. Moreover, the article seems into the difference between social control and life course theory as well as the ethical considerations that researchers should have in mind when researching about deviance.
Sutherland and Cressey’s theory of differential association is regarded as one of the most popular methods of social learning. His focus was on the white collar crimes, professional theft, and intelligence and he came up with the notion that offense was as a result of people's inability in the lower social class. For instance, take an example of a poor widow who has six children who are leaning on her for basic needs provision. The mother has no one to look up to, and the children require education, food, clothes, and shelter. Although the mother is a receptionist at a local primary school, the salary she gets at the end of the month is barely enough to even for one kid among the six. In this case, therefore, the mother decides secretly creep into finance department files and hack the school account login details after which she steals a substantial amount of from the school account. According to the norms, this could be a very embarrassing and wrong action to take especially for a mother. Nevertheless, the work is as a result of financial inadequacy of the mother because she is on a lower social class.
Sutherland in his opinion believes that crime does not come from one’s character but is from the socio-economic positions that they are in which affects their way of doing things. Acquisition of behavior is a process of social learning and not a legal or political means. Moreover, the motives and skills that lead to crime come as a result of contact with pro-crime attitudes, definitions, values and other patterns that relate to criminal acts (Cohen &Stanley 16). The primary principles of the differential theory are that criminal behavior arises among intimate groups where illegal strategies are learned. Perceptions of right code impact drives and motives whereby differential relations tend to be different in terms of the priority, intensity, and duration of the process of criminal learning behavior.
Life Course Theory and Social Control Theory
According to research, the life course theory and social control theory indicate that the primary findings concerning crime and delinquency from cross-sectional and longitudinal research are similar. The correlations comprise of age, stability, and versatility. Arguments have come up concerning the impacts of generation on crime whereby they tend to embrace all the fallacies that are identified in the life course theory. The control theory states that delinquent operates as a subset of acts which bring out an immediate benefit on a long term basis and such actions are rampant among people who are not likely to consider the long term effects of their present behavior. Control theory is therefore believed to minimize the causal importance of various life course events and views the events as results of the methods that explain versatility.
In criminology, social control theory suggests that exploiting the socialization process and social learning brings self-control and minimizes the inclination to involve oneself into antisocial behavior. The approach borrows its concepts from the functionalist theories of crime. The method of social control theory brings the notion that people‘s norms, values, and beliefs give them the motive of avoiding violation of the law. Therefore if moral codes are internalized and individuals are restricted into them, they will individually minimize their possibility to engage in deviant behavior (Cohen &Stanley,17). The theory aims at understanding how criminality can be reduced which is developing in individuals. Most of the old research on social control theory is based on self –reporting studies. Critics of self-report data propose that there could be different reasons for disclosing information.
Life course theory, on the other hand, is mainly referred to as the life course perspective and entails the multidisciplinary paradigm of the study of people lives, social change, and structural contexts. The approach encompasses the observations and ideas from various disciplines, sociology, demography, biology, economics, and developmental history. Precisely the theory focuses on the powerful link between historical and socioeconomic contexts as well as the lives of individuals. Life course is defined as the events and responsibilities enacted by an individual over a long period. On the contrary, life course perspective explains the essence of time, process, context and meaning of human development and family life (Cohen &Stanley,23). Family, in this case, is regarded as a small social group in a significant social context as a group of people with similar history and who socialize in dynamic social settings across the ever-increasing space and time.
There are numerous aspects which sociologists are required to consider when conducting their research. In the sociological research guidelines, these researchers are needed to skillful and have a fair mind especially when they are dealing with human subjects. One of the critical aspects when studying deviance behavior is that the researcher needs to obtain informed consents from their questions concerning the risks and responsibilities as well as the risks that are likely to be encountered during the research they are about to take part in. In the course of the study, the researcher is required to ensure that the participants are safe and should stop in case any of the subjects is at risk.
Another issue is that the privacy of the participants needs to be protected by the researcher as much as possible. Even in cases where courts or the police researchers pressure the researcher are not allowed to give any confidential information concerning their participants (Cohen &Stanley 32). It is their responsibility to avail results to the other sociologists interested in studying deviance behavior on the participants and also make public the sources of finance. It is imperative for the researcher to be aware that they are not allowed to receive any funding from a third party or an organization because it would lead to a conflict of interest and influence the results of the study for its benefits.
According to Max Weber, there is another ethical consideration that should be considered by researchers in studying deviance behavior. Weber knew a lot about the impact of personal values on the framework for releasing research results. Marx embraced the fact that some aspects of research design are capable of being influenced by their benefits but believes it is wrong to allow their values to shape how responses for the research are interpreted. According to him, sociologists need to establish neutral values whereby they remain impartial and fair throughout the study session and during the publication of the results. It is required that sociologists disclose the findings of the study without any form of alteration or removal of any significant data.
According to most sociologists, it is not possible to abandon personal values and maintain compete for focus. They caution the readers to have an understanding that sociological studies are likely to have a certain level of bias (Cohen &Stanley 38). The aspects allow the readers to look at them as a form of truth or one fact. There are attempts by some sociologists to avoid criticism and remain objective as they can during their study of cultural institutions. The issue of value neutrality means trying their best to overcome any form of biasness during data analysis. It means making sure they do not skew data to suit the predetermined outcome which goes along with a specific agenda such as a political or a moral point of view. Investigators are given the obligation to report results even in cases where they tend to cause contradictions of personal opinions, common beliefs or foreseen consequences.
To sum up, after a detailed examination of the aspect of deviance and social behavior as well as the different theories of social deviance, it can be concluded that it is not logical to say that deviance lies in the eyes of the beholder. It is also essential to point out that there are two primary ways of viewing deviance according to sociologists, the relativist and the absolutist's way. The absolutists way are unwilling to cut any slack at all while discussing deviance as an impact of the environment, society and other factors t