Giddens (as cited in Ritzer & Goodman, 2003) argues that structure and agency, although a dichotomy, mustn’t be regarded as working independent of one another. Instead the nature of human interaction and action relies on the interlaced mechanism of agency and structure. Human practices are recursive, thus individuals create both their cognizance and the structural conditions within which they act. Since social actors are reflexive and observe the ongoing flow of activities and structural conditions, they adapt their actions responsively to those evolving insights. An example of such adaptation is the ways in which stigmatized individuals manage their identity to conform to the structural norms and expectations of society.
This imply that social facts are real as much as objective facts. Under these ideas sociologists Berger and Luckmann develop the concept of socially constructed reality. They argued that the social world derives from the interpretation of the world we communicate throughout symbols. It takes place through the externalization, objectification and internalization. The process starts with the communication of meanings through symbols, that then get objectified and finally assumed as reality.
The definition of deviance defines the threat and allows for containment and control of the threat. The definition of deviance preserves, protects, and defines group interests and in doing so maintains a sense of normalcy. Deviance can consequently be seen as a product of Social Interaction; the result of setting boundaries and limitations, rules and laws, acceptable and unacceptable. "In sum, by deviance I mean one thing and one thing only: behavior or characteristics that some people in a society find offensive or reprehensible and that generates--or would generate if discovered--in these people disapproval, punishment, condemnation of, or hostility toward, the actor or possessor....What we have to know is, deviant to whom?" (Goode, 1994, page 29) Psychological theories of crime and deviance really only describe the difference between supposedly ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ human characteristics.
They believe that society isn’t peaceful and is based on conflict and exploitation. Religion makes this society justify inequality and maintains ruling class domination. Karl Marx believed religion is a form of social “opium” which dulls oppressive pain and provides hope to the working class people who are being exploited. In Marx’s view religion is used by the ruling class to control the working class. This is done in many ways.
He argued that religion existed because of the state of society and its class struggles. The existence of religion also helped limit or avoid change in society. Marx also believed that religion stripped us of our true humanity. “It is self-evident, moreover, that "specters", "bonds", "the higher being", "concept", "scruple", are merely the idealistic, spiritual expression, the conception apparently of the isolated individual, the image of very empirical fetters and limitations, within which the mode of production of life and the form of intercourse coupled with it move (51).” God or any higher power was something invented to deposit fear into. God was something to blame for our own inefficiencies and failures.
The Social Action Theory and Symbolic Interactionism Max Weber believed that individuals were the key to society. He developed social action theory, the purpose of which was to find out why individuals function in certain ways. He thought that every social action performed by an individual had a meaning attached to it. Social actions are the result of conscious thought processes that take into consideration the reactions of other individuals. Weber identified four types of social action which include, reason (an instrumentally rational or calculated action), value or rational action (determined by belief), emotion or effectual action (dependent upon the feelings of the individual), and traditional action (determined by habit).
It occurs through the interactions of others. In Chapter 11, Mead, Blumer, and Goffman critiqued symbolic interaction as a theory of society and also discussed the differences between symbolic interaction and social structure. George Herbert Mead asserts that people have to manage with the reality of their circumstances according to the situation. Some of the concepts that Mead believes is mind, self, and society. The mind reveals an individual’s ability to conceive what it perceives and change gestures into symbols.
Both symbolic interactionist and functionalist have their respective ways of explaining the cause of deviance. On one hand, symbolic interactionist tried to explain this phenomenon through the basic principle that an individual 's actions are dependent on their situation that varies depending upon one 's culture and surroundings which include the differential association theory, control theory, and labeling theory. On the other hand, in the functionalist perspective, they see that society as one system and is composed of interrelated parts. They argued that deviance is an element of society and fulfils specific functions in society. As shown in the strain theory, the existence of deviance allows for the establishment of cultural goal and institutionalize means that results in the operation of
Symbolic Interaction Symbolic interactionism is a theoretical approach to understanding the relationship between humans and society. Symbolic Interactionism is the basis that human actions and interaction are comprehensible with the interchange of significant communication or symbols. In the approach of symbolic interaction, human beings are known to act verses being acted upon. The main values of symbolic interactionism are: human beings act towards things a certain way based of the meaning the things have for them on a personal basis, which ascends out of social interaction and social action results from fitting together of individual lines of action. This approach is in contrast to the strict behaviorism of psychological theories prevalent
In the analysis of society in today's times, the motives of social change, control, and conformity provides the basis of how society controls human behavior. The ideals and expectations place onto people in modern society are established through means of control where people are expected to behave within a spectrum of normality and what society deems as acceptable behavior. Forms of social influence as simple as peer pressure and wanting to fit in transform into major controls of society like laws, law enforcement officers and the government as a whole. The way that people make sense of their environment is through formed first impressions, interpretations of other people's behavior and how that behavior affects their attitudes, stereotypes, and perceptions of other types of people. The overall impact of these ideas on individuals shows how conformity, persuasion, stereotypes, and culture affect how society maintains and changes social norms.