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Posted on March 26th, 2012, by

In this paper I would like to present two theories of deviation. The aim of the work is to show their strong and weak sides.

Virtually the entire life of any society is characterized by the presence of abnormalities. Deviant behavior is a significant part of the population today represents the most dangerous for the country’s destructive tendencies.

Deviant behavior is always associated with a mismatch of human actions and activities prevalent in society or in social groups, norms, rules of conduct, stereotypes, expectations, attitudes, values. Sociologists distinguish different forms of deviant behavior such as drunkenness and alcoholism, crime, drug abuse, aggressive behavior in a family suicide.

At first I am going to examine the first theory of deviation by Emile Durkheim. According to Emile Durkheim, the deviations behavior probability significantly increases under occurring¬† weakening of regulatory oversight in the society. Durkheim believed that the deviation play a positive role in the societal level – contribute to the preservation of social order. Crime – a necessary part of all societies. Crime has an important role that generates social cohesion in opposition to it. Durkheim’s “Suicide” is based on an analysis of statistical data that characterizes the dynamics of suicide rates in different European countries. The strong suit of this theory is a respectable official statistics, which allows the management by objective data. The author strongly rejects attempts to explain the studied phenomenon by non-social factors. Only sociology can explain differences in the number of suicides observed in different countries and different periods. Durkheim establishes the dependence of the number of suicides by degree of value-normative integration of society (the group). He identifies three basic types of suicide due to different strength of influence social norms on the individual: selfish, altruistic, and anomie. Egoistic suicide in the case of weak social bonds of the individual, causing him to remain alone with itself and lose the meaning of life. Altruistic suicide, on the contrary; caused complete absorption of the individual by society, will give for him his life. Finally, anomie suicide due to the state of anomie in a society where social norms do not simply have little effect on individuals, but generally absent, when the society there is a normative vacuum, i.e, anomie.

A strength of this theory is its ability to reveal the nature and causes of crimes related to money, committed on the basis of profit and greed, crimes among white-collar and corporate crimes, crimes “warmongers” and crimes of representatives of authorities and those who aspire to power.

However, the weakness of the theory lies in the fact that overlook the processes of social interaction through which people form their ideas about the world and plan their actions.

The second theory, which received my attention, is the theory of stigma which is based on the idea of conflict resolution and successfully sticking negative labels on violators of these norms.

Thus, according to the theory of stigma, the deviation is determined not by the behavior, and society’s response to such behavior. When the behavior of people is viewed as retreating from the accepted norms, it gives impetus to a range of social reactions. Others define, evaluate the behavior and “hang” to it a certain label. The offender begins to harmonize their standards further actions with such labels. In many cases, the individual produced by self-presentation, which coincides with that label, as a result he is able to embark on the path of deviation.

The theory of stigmatization has its critics. First, although the theory of stigma helps to understand how individuals become “professional” offenders, it does not show what factors have caused the initial deviant behavior. Secondly, deviation can not be understood in isolation from social norms.

Thus, no sociological theory can not give a full explanation of deviant behavior. Each highlights one particular important source of deviations from normal behavior. A deviant behavior can take many forms. Therefore, you should carefully analyze every form of deviation for the determination involved in its specific factors.

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