Theories Of Deviance

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Sociological Explanations of the Causes of Crime and Deviance: An Evaluation


In my essay, I will attempt to tackle one of the main questions, regarding crime and deviance: Why do people commit deviant acts?
In order to achieve a valid conclusion, I will provide a definition and describe with examples the differences between criminal and deviant acts. I will then proceed to report the origins of "Strain Theory", starting from the father of sociology Emile Durkheim and his concept of anomie, which was then reintroduced by Robert Merton as a basis for his theory. I will also propose a critical side for each statement that has been made to support the idea, highlighting the evidence for and the evidence against.
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Informal social control is the way we control people 's behaviour around us ourselves. If someone acts a way that we don 't approve of, we sanction them informally (e.g. when getting a tattoo Anne’s mum raised her eyebrow and didn’t speak to her for a week) with the idea being to let them know that they are acting in a way that we believe is deviant.
Formal social control represents the actions of the government. A government agency, a police agency, whose job it is to find people who are committing crime, to arrest them, and then take them into the criminal justice system, to isolate them from the rest of society, and then punish them or rehabilitate them. The formal social control mechanism that we typically study is called the criminal justice system. The criminal justice system is composed of the police, the court system, and the correctional system. The purpose of this system is to enforce the criminal code, the formal rules that the culture has created, to prevent people from engaging in harmful deviant acts.

What are the most relevant theories on the
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Secondary Deviance, the reaction (e.g. labeled as thief)
Master Status, viewed as thief by the community
Self Fulfilling Prophecy, individual internalises the label, therefore he starts robbing
Reiss (1961) also argues that you can reject your master status through a study on male prostitutes.


In a twenty first century western society, the limited and biased views of Strain Theory are incredibly visible as it doesn’t take in account many factors. Society is described in simplistic terms, the availability of fulfilling goals in the illegal system it is not taken into account, the studies have been done on deviant man, as women where rarely seen as deviant, and the questions are addressed wrongly.
On the other hand Labelling theory takes in account the complexity of society and it focuses on the reaction of the deviant act, providing us with a more applicable theory and a better understanding without
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