Social Deviance

Essay by anmol75College, UndergraduateA+, July 2006

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To begin, deviance is any behavior that does not conform to societal norms and is disapproved by large numbers of people. Deviance is relative and changes over time as the world is socially defined; everyone is deviant to some extent. There are many theories behind it giving a vast variety of interpretations. When looking at deviance form a sociological point of view it contains definitions of a wide nature, which are branched off into several perspective groups. One can look at a single act of deviance using these different theories.

An important sociological concept states that people conform, to societal expectation or norms (Thompson, 2002). Conformity provides order in the society. Thus, when someone is doing something that the rest of society find unacceptable, or out of the ordinary, he or she is considered deviant. When studying Sherry's case one can see that all different theories about deviance come into play.

First theory that can be discussed or applied is the Structural strain theory. It states that deviance is result of strain experienced by people due to their position in the social structure. Sherry came from a home where she was abused and had no respect. On day she was battered really badly by her family member. She couldn't handle the strain and fled from home. The stress caused by her social environment lead her to take an action toward deviance.

Anomie is defined by Robert Merton as a state of confusion in which people are unable to functionally pursue socially accepted goals through approved means of achieving. One can look at Sherry's case and see that theory of anomie comes into place when she is out on the streets and needs to achieve a basic social goal, which is to survive. She said in the video that she...