Deviance and Hitchhikers

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In the article “Hitchhiker gets 16 years in stabbing of man,” Ellen Miller writes about a young hitchhiker who gets a 16-year prison sentence for stabbing a good Samaritan who gave them a ride. The man who was attacked, Chuck Harris, gave the three hitchhikers, who were standing in the rain, a ride to his house There he fed them steak dinners, offered to let them stay the night, and offered to give them fifty dollars each for work. But instead, two of the three hitchhikers stabbed Harris with butcher knives, which they got from Harris’ kitchen with intentions to take his money and steal his car. The other two assailants will be sentenced next week. This article is sociological in nature. Not only did these boys attempt murder, they committed a deviant act. After being caught, society stepped in and made it clear that their act was deviant through a jail sentence. Many sociological terms can be applied to this article. For example, deviance, social control, negative sanction, differential association, street crime, and white-collard crime can all be illustrated in this story. Deviance refers to any violation of norms. It is not the act itself, but the way in which society views the act that makes it deviant. In our country, the hitchhikers who stabbed Harris are considered deviant. In other countries, this act may be considered normal and an everyday occurrence. Also, our army is over in Afghanistan right now attempting to kill anyone supporting the Taliban. American society is accepting these killings as revenge on what they did to America. However, as soon as murder is not related to war, society views murder as a deviant act. Social control, a groups formal and informal means of enforcing its norms, failed in this story. The hitchhikers knew that stabbing Harris and robbing him was wrong. But obviously, in the minds of the hitchhikers the risks of obtaining a car and money were greater than the punishment of murder and robbery. Deviant acts are often thought of as threatening to society. “Our lives are based on these arrangements, and this is why deviance often is seen as so threatening: It undermines predictability, the foundation of social life.” Negative sanctions are one way that society enforces social control. The way in which our society deals with attempted murderers is prison.

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