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Three Meaningful Ideas: The Theories of Deviance Symbolic Interactionism The Looking-glass Self by Alexa Morrow , Nguyen Tong , and Michael Lei Sociology 101 Margaret Riordan November 27, 2010
The Theories on Deviance A deviant. This term can be used to describe anyone who “deviates” from what a society perceives to be normality. From tattoos and piercings to crime, almost everybody has committed a deviant act. The theories on deviance are important to understand, because they allow us to see and understand deviance in a way that perhaps we would be otherwise unable to. The theories provide reasons why deviants act as they do and show multiple ways in which they can effect society – and not always in a bad way either.
Functionalism Deviance, and those who are deviant, have long been looked at as the black sheep of society. Living on the fringes and doing what they please with no regard for normalcy, society acts against them. Yet in functionalist theory, every part of society plays a role to help maintain stability. Deviants are no exception – as a part of society, well-liked or not, they have positive 'functions' as well.
Functions of Deviance Lewis A. Coser in his article titled “Some Functions of Deviant Behavior and Normative Flexibility,” says that deviance brings the community together “by arousing the community to the consequences of infringements of rules” (Coser p. 172). The deviant acts as a lesson to others, showing what can possibly come from defying the norms. Speaking of criminal deviance, Emile Durkheim wrote “crime brings together upright consciences and concentrates them” (Durkheim p. 102). Durkheim, along with George Herbert Mead, also states that “the attitude of hostility toward the Law-breaker has the unique advantage of uniting all members of the community" (Mead p. 591). Deviance alerts the society to the importance of certain norms, and defines a groups morals. http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=3z9g_EYM3Z4
Deviant behavior can also be a way for a society to reaffirm their values – instead of by rejecting them, their values and the groups are strengthened by protecting the deviant. In a study where Quakers were examined, it was seen that not only does protecting a deviant let them “practice what they publicly profess” but the deviant also is someone needed by their society - they perhaps “need social objects upon whom "tolerance" can be exercised because they provide the occasion for testing and confirming their values” (Coser p. 175). So deviants can strengthen a society when accepted, or tolerated, depending on the circumstances of the groups.
There is also good in what sociologist Robert K. Merton simply calls “non-conformity” (Coser p. 177). While both criminal and non-conformist deviance violate a society's norms, the non-conformists' actions are “not a private dereliction, but a thrust toward a new morality (or a restoration of an old and almost forgotten morality)...” (Merton p. 363) . Lewis A. Coser pointed out that if all deviant actions are perceived as criminal, a society becomes “ill-equipped to reveal fully the extent to which nonconformity, as distinct from crime, involves the striving forward on alternative moral basis rather than moral deviation” (Coser p.177). At the time of the civil rights movement, protestors were fighting for a 'new morality'.
Conflict Theory Often it is assumed that justice will be served, no ifs, ands, or buts. But justice is rarely so straightforward, and often it is applied unequally for a variety of reasons. Due to this, rules and regulations about norms are not strictly imposed on certain individuals, while on others, they must be followed or there will be actions against you. Such inequalities can be seen in how antisodomy laws were used against homosexuals, and how minorities are treated in court.
Norm Violations and Inequality Something that has been noticed in history is that way in which antisodomy laws were applied when they were still being used. While the laws could also apply to “acts like masturbation and heterosexual oral sex” in a few areas the laws were only “imposed against same-sex partners” (Ferris & Stein p. 185). When viewed from the perspective of conflict theory, they were “a way for the heterosexual majority to control homosexuals” (p. 185). (Prior to Lawrence v. Texas)
Another example is in how minority races are treated in courts or law. A recent review done by Jason T. Carmichael looked at various studies dealing with the differences in how courts treated juvenile offenders. The review stated that “minorities receive more severe forms of formal social control than Whites at all stages of the criminal justice system because majority group members use their influence on the political and judicial systems to ensure the repression of minority groups” ( Carmichael p. 748 - 749 ). They also found that “sentences for young, Black and young Hispanic males are more severe than for similar White offenders” ( Carmichael p. 749 ).
Structural Strain Theory Robert Merton's structural strain theory is one that sort of combines both functionalist theory and conflict theory. He explains that “some deviance is inevitable in society” yet he also believes that “an individuals positions in the social structure will effect his experience of deviance and conformity. (Ferris & Stein p. 185) He then set out four different sort of people in society, labeling them as innovators, ritualists, retreatists, and rebels.
The Four Categories Innovators Agree with the goals society set, but does not agree with society's approved way to attain them. Works towards those goals by alternate methods. Ritualists Have given up hope to meet the goals society sets, but keep on acting as if they are trying to. Retreatists Do not agree with either the society's goals or the means in which they try to attain them. Does not conform to society's norms at all. Rebels Do not agree with either the society's goals or the means in which the try to attain them. Instead, they work towards different goals by different means . Milton from Office Space Che Guevara - Argentine Marxist Revolutionary
Symbolic Interactionism Symbolic interactionism seeks to describe “the way that interpersonal relationships and everyday interactions shape definitions of deviance” (Ferris & Stein p. 186) There are a few different theories within this. The main theories are Edwin Sutherland's differential association theory and Howard Becker's labeling theory, which includes the idea of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Differential Association Theory This theory is one that is widely know in definition, but not in name. This is the theory which says that “we learn to be deviant through our interactions with others who break the rules” (Ferris & Stein p. 186). In one study, they report that “research has indicated that differential association is a consistent predictor across a range of deviant behaviors such as substance use, property crime, and computer crime” (Miller p. 473).
Labeling Theory Howard Becker says that “deviance is not inherent in any act, belief, or condition; instead, it is determined by the audience” (Ferris & Stein p. 186). He explains that the label of a deviant will depend on “culture, time period, and context” (p. 186). This theory is concerned with how an individual comes to view themselves based on how others label them. If others look at a person and describe that person as deviant, they have been given a label that they could potentially internalize . GEEK! GEEK... GEEK...
Labeling Theory (cont.) An encyclopedia brings out that “the deviant characteristic (e.g., drug addict, criminal, etc.) assigned to a person may become a status such that the 'label' will dominate all positive characteristics (e.g. parent, teacher, church member, etc.) that might otherwise characterize the person” (Encyclopedia p. 515). Two key phrases for this theory are primary and secondary deviance. Primary deviance is the act that causes someone to be labeled deviant. Secondary deviance is the deviant identity developed by those labeled as such. Shoplifting a pair of sunglasses labels you a deviant. You make a career of thievery
Self-fulfilling Prophecy One idea that works off of labeling theory is the idea of a self-fulfilling prophecy – whereby W. I. Thomas said “if men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences” (Ferris, Stein p. 190). The idea behind this is that if people expect something to happen, they will find it happening more often. However labels “are not 100% deterministic, and prophecies are not always self-fulfilling,” so situations are never completely out of a persons' control (p. 190). Oedipus – was told he would marry his mother and, believing that, he ran away from his foster parents (whom he believed to be his real par- ents) only to end up marrying his biological mother.
Symbolic Interactionism This is a theory that is very important to human interaction. This is the way people perceive things and assign them meaning – and it is always very important to know if you wish to interact with the society around you appropriately
Symbols W e U se ymbols I n L ife B ecause hey D efine he eaning of what W e want t o E xpress.
“ Symbols Help Us Perceive Our Relationship With Others (Class Lecture Week 2)” “ The first core principle of meaning states that humans act toward people and things based upon the meanings that they have given to those people or things” (Mead).
“ Human naturally assign meaning to people and things. With these meaning assigned, we act accordingly” (O'Boyle).
“ Symbols Help Us To Be Able To Interact With Each Other” (Class Lecture, Week 2). رموز تعليمات بنا لتكون قادرة على التفاعل مع بعضها البعض Symboles nous aide à être en mesure d'interagir avec les autres シンボルは、お問い合わせは、互いに相互作用できるようにするにはヘルプ Adjuva nos Symbols posse penitus INTER SE Simboli ci aiuti ad essere in grado di interagire con l'altro Символы Помогите нам Чтобы иметь возможность взаимодействовать друг с другом 符號說明我們能夠彼此互動
“ Meaning emerges from social interaction and the language used. Meanings come from people, not objects” (O'Boyle). Society is produced and reproduced through our interactions with each other, by means of language, and our interpretations of that language (Ferris pg. 49).”
“ Symbols Help Establish Who We Are (Class Lecture Week 2)” One's own thought process is used to develop his or her own interpretation of symbols . The process of role taking shapes one's understanding of others and their self” (O'Boyle).
“ Symbols help explain both our individual personalities and the ways in which we are all linked together; it allows us to understand the processes by which both social order and social change are constructed” (Ferris & Stein p. 48). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jwOTkj4cnU
Sum It Up <ul><li>Sociologically, symbols are created through interactions between humans and one's self. </li></ul><ul><li>Symbols exist because humans exist. Humans use symbols to interact with each other. </li></ul><ul><li>“ In particular, the meaning of objects, events, and behaviors comes from the interpretation people give them, and interpretations vary from one group to another” (Blumer). </li></ul>
The Looking-Glass Self “ Each to each a looking-glass, Reflects the other that doth pass” (Cooley). This is an important theory because it deals with us both individually as well as having to do with how we interact with others. We have the ability to change a persons view of themselves, and they have the same power over us. So it is important to understand how this works.
“ We all act like mirrors to each other, reflecting back to one another an image of ourselves” (Ferris & Stein p. 121).
We conceptualize how we expose to others "The social origin of his life comes by the pathway of intercourse with other persons."
A Scenario <ul><li>- John is starting his first day at high school. </li></ul><ul><li>- He believes that wearing sunglasses during class hours will make him look “cool.” </li></ul><ul><li>- So he wore his sunglasses to school, on a cloudy day. </li></ul>
We envisage other people's intuition of us Does Blue think my green shirt is a bit too green? You look nice in the green shirt, but I believe you could look better in a different color, Steve. “ Your self image is strongly influenced by the way others react to you” (Gershaw).
A Scenario Cont. <ul><li>- John then comes across a group of girls. </li></ul><ul><li>- They give John weird looks and smirk at him. </li></ul><ul><li>- John asks one of his friend if the sunglasses makes him look cool. </li></ul><ul><li>- They say he looks “tight” with them on. </li></ul>
We exploit a self-concept Blue might be right, but I only have green shirts. So, sorry Blue.
A Scenario Cont. <ul><li>- Even though John was troubled by the girls' reactions, his friends' words made him believe that the sunglasses were cool. </li></ul><ul><li>- John then goes through his first day of high school with the sunglasses on, proudly. </li></ul>
This is looking-glass self in a nutshell http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2YLAYCJvyk
The Affects <ul><li>Social interactions can influence people's aspect of themselves. </li></ul><ul><li>The looking-glass self affects tremendously on the teenage age because of their peers. </li></ul>
Works Cited <ul><li>Theories of Deviance </li></ul><ul><li>Carmichael, J. T., Sentencing disparities for juvenile offenders sentenced to adult prisons: An individual and contextual analysis, Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 38, Issue 4, July-August 2010, Pages 747-757, ISSN 0047-2352, DOI: 10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2010.05.001.(sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V75-509Y43J - 2/2/cc325461757d13bb5d2c4349878cf57b) </li></ul><ul><li>Coser, L. A., "Durkheim's Conservatism and Its Implications for Sociological Theory," in Emile Durkheim, ed. Kurt H. Wolff (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1961), pp. 211-32. Cf. also Roger Nett, "Conformity-Deviation and the Social Control Concept," Ethics, LXIV (1953), 38-45. </li></ul><ul><li>Coser, L. A. (1962). Some functions of deviant behavior and normative flexability. The American Journal of Sociology , 68 (2), 172-181. </li></ul><ul><li>Durkheim, E., Division of Labor in Society (Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1947), p. 102. </li></ul><ul><li>Encyclopedia of Sociology. 2 nd ed. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2001. 3481 pp. 5 vols. </li></ul>Ferris, K., & Stein, J. (2010). The real world . New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc Mean, G. H., "The Psychology of Punitive Justice," American Journal of Sociology, XXIII (1928), 557-602, esp. p. 591. Miller, H. V. (2009) 'If Your Friends Jumped Off of a Bridge, Would You Do It Too? Delinquent Peers and Susceptibility to Peer Influence', Justice Quarterly, 27:4, 473 - 491, First published on: 18 September 2009 (iFirst) Merton, op. cit., p. 363 et passim. Symbolic Interactionism Ferris, K., & Stein, J. (2010). The real world . New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Mork, B. (2001, June 5). Symbolic interactionism . Retrieved from http://www.d.umn.edu/~bmork/2306/Theories/BAMsymint.htm Nelson, L.D. (1998). Herbet bloomer's symbolic interactionism . Retrieved from http://www.colorado.edu/communication/meta-discourses/Papers/App_Papers/Nelson.htm Nelson, L.D. (1998). Herbet bloomer's symbolic interactionism . Retrieved from http://www.colorado.edu/communication/meta-discourses/Papers/App_Papers/Nelson.htm O'Boyle, K. (n.d.). Symbolic interactionism . Retrieved from http://oak.cats.ohiou.edu/~ko371597/symbolic.htm Riordan, M. (2010, September 27). Week two . Retrieved from https://everett.angellearning.com/section/default.asp?id=SOCCC101_OL2_FL10_7871 Looking-glass Self Cooleyy, C.H. (1902). Human nature and the social order. 179-185. Coser, L.A. (1977). 305-307. Ferris, K., & Stein, J. (2010). The real world . New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Gershaw, D.A. (1983, May 18). Looking-glass self . Retrieved from http://virgil.azwestern.edu/~dag/lol/LookingGlass.html Juska, A. (2008). The looking-glass self . Retrieved from http://core.ecu.edu/soci/juskaa/SOCI2110/Lectures/socialization/sld008.htm