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Deviant Behavior and Social Control

Categories: Behavior

Durkheim said, “We must not say that an action shocks the common conscience because it is criminal, but rather that it is criminal because it shocks the common conscience. ” The strain theory by Robert K. Merton suggests that American are geared toward deviance because of a lack of legitimate options to attain the monetary goal that Americans emphasize (Tischler, p. 146). Travis Hirschi posed the control theory which focuses on the importance of the people around you to mold you into a regular lifestyle.

He said that there are four main points to why someone will become deviant or not: attachment to others, commitment to conformity, involvement in conventional activities, belief in the moral validity of social rules. If someone displays these four points than they will probably be a functioning member of society. Sociologists suggest the techniques of neutralization, which are ways we will justify the deviant act to ourselves so that we are able to complete it. The five techniques are denial of responsibility, denying the injury, denial of the victim, condemnation of the authorities, and appealing to higher principles of authorities.

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Lastly, there is the labeling theory which states that individuals will commit secondary deviant acts after the fact that they have already been deemed a deviant by society. A flaw in this theory is that it does not give reason for why the original deviant act was committed. Every theory previously posed does have legitimate facts behind why it could be the cause for deviant behavior, but no single one is completely correct.

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Although the mesomorphic body type may be deemed as a more aggressive person, this would not be the only reason why the person was deviant, so the biological theory cannot stand alone.

The psychological theories have a lot of mental disease that makes them more prone to deviant activity, but it is also proven that these traits are overcome by a good social environment and in some cases the proper medication. Just like the psychological theories, the sociological theories are proven that the environment that one is raised or lives in is a highly important factor, but it is possible for someone in a good environment to be deviant and vice versa. 2. What types of crime exist in the Unite States?

There are four main categories of crime in the United States and these crimes range from rape to robbery to embezzlement to public drunkenness. The first category of crime is violent crime which consists of acts such as murder and assault. These crimes usually come with the longest prison sentences, and the good news is that these types of crime have been on the decline over the past few years. Next we have property crime which consists of three quarters of the crime in the United States. Car theft and burglary are examples of property crimes.

According to the FBI, a white-collar crime is “characterized by deceit, concealment, or a violation of trust. ” Bernie Madoff, the Enron corporation, and ponzi schemes are what we consider to be white-collar crimes. Finally, we have what are called victimless crimes. These are crimes that break what is considered law, but have no direct victim. Prostitution, drug use, and DUI are all what can be considered victimless. They use the term “victimless” but the argument can be made that the victim is the person committing the crime because their actions usually harm themselves. 3.

What parts of the court and prison system are effective, and what parts are ineffective? Only two out of the four major goals of prison are effective. The first of which is to separate criminals from society, is accomplished by the physical act of taking criminals off the street and putting them behind fences that are twenty feet high with barbed wire, towers with armed guards, and impenetrable buildings of brick and mortar. This is honestly the only thing that our courts succeed in doing, but when you separate them from society, you put them with fellow criminals who have new crimes to teach.

The second goal that can be considered effective is that prison is a legitimate punishment for criminal behavior. For me, being in prison is a mental and physical hell because it causes you to be broken down while in a small cell with a bar door and no window and no means of escape. For others it may not be like this though, because as mentioned before in the theories of deviance, a criminal may have psychological problems where they are unable to conform and prison makes them conform so they begin to enjoy what they are unable to have on the outside.

Also, most criminals peers are other criminals, so while incarcerated they do not feel completely separated from their usual world. The other two primary goals of the prison systems can be considered highly ineffective. Deterring criminal behavior is the third goal of prisons and as the statistics show, this is not commonly achieved. If prison were a good deterrent than we would not have the crime rate that we have today. If the reward of the crime is greater than what the punishment will be, a crime will be committed. The last goal of the prisons is to rehabilitate.

The facts are concrete when showing that prison and the programs within have minimal success rates. My personal observations over the past two weeks concur with the facts. I would estimate that close to ninety percent of the inmates who are in here for drug and alcohol related offenses talk about getting high or drunk on the day they are released, and with fellow inmates. The inmates who are guilty of burglary or robbery and other related offenses admit that they don’t know any other way of life, and that they will continue their criminal ways when released.

There will never be a perfect society in which there is no deviant behavior. There is, however, ways in which we can continue to develop a better understanding of what causes the deviant behavior and ways in which we can prevent it. The prison system is continually developing new trial programs to help addicts and alcoholics, along with incorporating programs for criminals to get started on a career path instead of a criminal path. I do not believe that these will ever be one definite answer to why one becomes deviant, but let’s hope that as future progresses the rate at which deviance occurs decreases.

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Deviant Behavior and Social Control. (2018, Sep 25). Retrieved from

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