The Purpose Of Wayward Puritans By Kai Erikson

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Response Paper 1 In the book Wayward Puritans, Kai Erikson stands to argue that deviance and the consequences and punishments of this deviance form a significant mechanism of social regulation. Truly the main purpose of "Wayward Puritans" is to argue that deviant forms of behavior are often overlooked as a valuable resource in society. These forms of deviancy provide a point of contrast which is essential for the maintenance of a rational social order. As a sociologist, Kai Erikson views our history as a replication of changes in societal norms and expectations. In this book, Erikson revisits the society of the Puritans. By exploring and investigating several “crime waves” throughout history, Erikson notes several forms in which we as a society have seen deviance throughout history. Erikson begins the discussion of his research of Puritan lifestyle and the influences of deviance; Erikson investigates the Antinomian Controversy, the Quaker Invasion, and the Witches of Salem Village. In chapter one, Erikson gives a nod of recognition to Emile Durkheim’s work. Erikson notes Durkheim’s assertion that crime is really a natural kind of social activity. I started to think that Erikson may be trying to assert that if crime is a natural part of society, there is an indication that it is necessary in society. Erikson claims that non-deviants congregate and agree in a remarkable way to express outrage over deviants and deviancy, therefore solidifying a bond between members of society. Erikson continues to argue that this sense of mutuality increases individual’s awareness to the common goals of the society. In my view, Erikson delivers the most original and influential application of functionalist view on deviance. He states "Human behavior... ... middle of paper ... ...ightened by Erikson’s arguments. It is not often that I hear a sociological theory and think “AH HA! I get it.” But in this case I felt as though I could have a very clear understanding of what he was trying to say. However, although the evidence of deviance through our history as humans really does go to show that deviancy brings us together in a joint force for what we believe to be the common good and morality. Erikson’s evidence of mainly court records is not an adequate basis on determining a theory to explain the nature of society and its relationship with deviancy. I think if he had a true record of how the communities he studies reacted to deviance on every level. So far his study is without official statistics. It is my belief however this study could be more accurate if there were to be data collected on processes were enables to provide alternative data.

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