Behavior that is outside of the normally accepted parameters of society is considered deviant behavior. Deviant behavior can range from running a traffic signal to capital murder. The widely accepted norm of society declares these things to be unacceptable. What may be the normal accepted behavior in one society may be different for another. Deviant behavior is dictated by culture and evolution. What was once considered the norm yesterday may not be the norm today. Slavery in the United States was once considered the widely acceptable norm during that period. Today, slavery in the United States is not considered the acceptable norm. Although slavery is not practiced in the United States, it is still a widely acceptable practice in other countries. Men, women and children in countries such as Brazil, Western Europe and West Africa are forced to work under slave like conditions. Women are forced into prostitution, children working in factories and men forced to work for little or no pay at all.
A contributing factor to the perspective on society’s definition of deviant behavior can be link too what society deems as acceptable and unacceptable behavior. The domination and degrading of any human being is morally unacceptable. The constitution of the United States and most other countries has banned slavery. Slavery is an inhuman treatment of other human beings and the Constitution of the United States declares all men are created equal and have the same fundamental rights to live free in the pursuit of happiness. The functionalist perspective to deviant behavior asserts that deviant behavior is necessary for a balanced society. It set the parameters for what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior. The major distinction between functionalist and all other approaches believes ordinary crime is not a threat to the social order. In fact, society needs criminal behavior (and legal responses to it) to function properly. The interactionist perspective offers two approaches to deviant and criminal behavior-cultural transmission and routine activities theory.
Interaction through primary groups of association influences behavior whether proper or improper. Individuals who are exposed to continual acts of deviant behavior are more likely find this behavior expectable. Edwin Sutherland a sociologist used the term differential association to describe exposure to criminal attitudes that lead to the violation of rules which define deviant behavior. Research has shown the influence towards negative exposure to deviant groups or acts has an impact on social behavior. The conflict perspective is based upon the view that the fundamental causes of crime are the social and economic forces operating within society. The criminal justice system and criminal law are thought to be operating on behalf of rich and powerful social elites, with resulting policies aimed at controlling the poor. The criminal justice establishment aims at imposing standards of morality and good behavior created by the powerful on the whole of society.
Focus is on separating the rich and powerful from poor and weak who would steal from others and protecting themselves from physical attacks. In the process the legal rights of poor folks might be ignored. The middle class are also co-opted; they side with the elites rather the poor, thinking they might themselves rise to the top by supporting the status quo. Thus, street crimes, even minor monetary ones are routinely punished quite severely, while large scale financial and business crimes are treated much more lenient. Theft of a television might receive a longer sentence than stealing millions through illegal business practices.
I am an African American male born in the middle sixties. I come from a solid family background with a rich history and moderate means. In the area where I was born and raised my family is well known. But, on a larger scale as with most black families in America my family history dates back to slavery. During my childhood and teen years I excelled in sports and academics. I achieved a starting position at the quarterback position as a freshman and ran on the varsity track team. After high school I joined the navy and quickly achieved rank during my six year tour. After military service I achieved a position as a lab tech at a chemical company until my current position as a youth pastor. I am also a college student. I am a husband and father. As a youth pastor that has become my master status. This is a title that supersedes my ascribed and achieved statuses. I don’t believe my ascribed status is a necessarily a role that I play but a label society has tagged me with. How I was born and the circumstances and condition in which I was born was beyond my control.
As a black man I believe I have a responsibility to represent my race and culture in a respectable way. I also have a responsibility to my family heritage. My achieved status is what I worked for and what I continue to work for towards building a stronger future. I believe my master status is my most important, because it brings the other statuses into perspective. My role as pastor and most importantly a man of God help me balance my other roles and makes me a better person. A role conflict occurred when I was a head football coach and my coaching staff consisted of close friends. The conflict came when I had to address complaints from parents about one of the coaches who happened to be a family member. I had to separate my family relationship and perform my duty as a head coach and address this concern which was a valid one. The strain of the coaching position became strained when it conflicted with my work schedule and family life. I could no longer absorb the demands it required. I could no longer affectively be the head coach when my time with the team became limited. My role as a youth pastor would cause me the most difficulty in terms of role exit. I have established great relationships with members of my church and a bond with the youth. My role as youth pastor will eventually change when I become a full pastor. I believe that will be the most difficult experience.