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Bullying: Sociology and Socially Accepted Goals Essay

Many sociologists agree that there is no simple definition of the term deviance and proposed that deviance refers to the behaviours that violate social norms of a society. Downes and Rock, suggest that ‘deviance’ may be considered as banned or controlled behaviour which is likely to attract punishment or disapproval (1988, p. 28).

Some Deviant behaviour that can be found in Schools:

• Bullying

• Fighting

• Graffiti

• Vandalism

• Gang Violence

Theories of Deviance A number of theories related to deviance have emerged within the past 50 years (Clifford, 1960). Five of the most well-known theories on deviance are as follows: 1. Differential-association theory

Control theory

Labeling theory

Anomie theory

Strain theory

1. Differential-association theory

Edwin Sutherland coined the phrase differential association to address the issue of how people learn deviance. According to this theory, the environment plays a major role in deciding which norms students learn to violate. People also learn their norms from various socializing agents—parents, teachers, ministers, family, friends, co-workers, and the media. In short, people learn criminal behaviour, like other behaviours, from their interactions with others, especially in intimate groups (Surtherland 1993). The differential-association theory applies to many types of deviant behaviour. For example, juvenile gangs provide an environment in which young people learn to become criminals. These gangs define themselves as countercultural and glorify violence, retaliation, and crime as means to achieving social status. Gang members learn to be deviant as they embrace and conform to their gang’s norms.

2. Anomie Theory Anomie refers to the confusion that arises when social norms conflict or do not even exist (Merton, 1960). Robert Merton (1960) used the term anomie to describe the differences between socially accepted goals and the availability of means to achieve those goals. Merton stressed, that attaining wealth is a major goal of Americans, but not all Americans possess the means to do this, especially members of minority and disadvantaged groups. Anomie Theory & Deviance

Those who find the “road to riches” closed to them experience anomie, because an obstacle has thwarted their pursuit of a socially approved goal. When this happens, these individuals may employ deviant behaviours to attain their goals and retaliate against society. [pic]

Control Theory According to Walter Reckless’s control theory, both inner and outer controls work against deviant tendencies. People may want—at least some of the time—to act in deviant ways, but most do not. They have various restraints: inner and outer. Control Theory& Deviance

Travis Hirschi noted that these inner and outer restraints form a person’s self-control, which prevents acting against social norms. The key to developing self-control is proper socialization, especially early in childhood. Fro example, Students who lack this self-control, then, may grow up to commit crimes and other deviant behaviours. Internal controls Outer controls:

• Consciencepolice • Valuesfamily • Integrityfriends • Morality and religious authorities the desire to be a “good person.

3. Labelling Theory arose from the study of deviance in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Labelling theory is concerned with the meanings people derive from one another’s labels, symbols, actions, and reactions. This theory holds that behaviours are deviant only when society labels them as deviant. A person becomes the thing they are described as being. Labelling Theory & Deviance

Although, students from both groups committed crimes, the students from respectable families were perceived to be “good” because of their polite behaviour. Those from the other group are seen as “bad” because of their insolent behaviour (which was attributed to their lower-class backgrounds).

4. Strain Theory, Delinquency, and Street Gangs The Strain Theory attempts to explain how factors such as poverty, homelessness, lack of parenting and lack of opportunity are a major contributor to crime and the forming of delinquent subcultures such as gangs in schools. • Delinquency is defined as failure to do what law or duty requires (Akers, Sellers, 2009). It is a behaviour that is often a result of poverty and inopportunity in a student’s life. • Hence, students who cannot obtain what they need through conventional means will use unconventional means such as crime to obtain such necessities. In many cases students will find the unconventional means by joining a gang.

5. Sub-cultural Theory The Sub-cultural theory emerged from the work of the Chicago School on gangs and developed through the symbolic interactionism school into a set of theories arguing that certain groups or subcultures in society have values and attitudes that are conducive to crime and violence. • Subcultural theories share the common belief that people who commit crime usually share different values from the mass of law-abiding members of society.For example, some groups of criminals might develop norms that encourage criminal behaviour.


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