How America's Social Structure Causes Deviance

2337 Words10 Pages
How America's Social Structure Causes Deviance Although many people know that deviancy is apparent in American society, few realize that it is society itself that causes deviancy. Our social structure exerts numerous pressures among people in our society to engage in non-conforming and deviant behavior to achieve the American dream. American society does this by emphasizing certain success goals, and not emphasizing the correct means to achieve these goals. In addition, deviancy is reinforced in numerous elements of American social structure through culturally defined goals, institutionalized means, societal reactions, and various forms of sanctions. Further, American society has a strong emphasis on wealth and an unreasonable demand for success. Therefore, Americans are lead to forms of innovation, deviancy, and live in a state of anomie. First, we must examine the definitions of deviance and norms. Henry defines deviance as a person who goes against the standards, expectations, and norms of their society (lecture). Further, deviancy is thought of as a personal attribute or behavior that results in social disapproval from others, or behavior that breaks the rules and norms for that society(Social Deviance 5). Norms are rules of conduct, and each norm is a statement of desirable or undesirable behavior. Examples of desirable and undesirable states of being are messages like "don't be too fat" and "don't be too thin" (Social Deviance 5). In addition, norms are the shared expectations and evaluations of behavior or being that the majority of society's members agree upon. Meier states that expectations refer to how people will act or be, and evaluations are how people should act or be (Social Deviance 5). These expectati... ... middle of paper ... ...ber 1999. Hornsby, Anne M. "Surfing the Net for Community: A Durkheim Analysis of Electronic Gatherings." Illuminating Social Life. Ed. Peter Kivisto. Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge P, 1998. 82-84. Krohn, Marvin and James Massey. "Social Control and Delinquent Behavior." The Sociological Quarterly 21, (1980): 529-544. Lemert, Charles. "Social Theory: Its Uses and Pleasures." Social Theory 1-20. Lemert, Charles., ed. Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings. 2nd ed. Boulder: Westview, 1999. Merton, Robert K. "Social Structure and Anomie." Social Theory 229-41. Mills, C. Wright. "The Sociological Imagination." Social Theory 115-123. Ward, David A., Timothy J. Carter, and Robin D. Perrin. Social Deviance: Being Behaving and Branding. Needham Heights: Allyn and Bacon, 1994. Weber, Max. "Class Status and Party." Social Theory 115-23.
Open Document