THEORY. KEY ELEMENTS. Functionalist Perspectives. Robert Merton's Strain theory. Cloward and Ohlin's Opportunity theory. Crime is a symptom of the. Differential‐association theory has contributed to the field of criminology in its focus on the developmental nature of criminality. People learn deviance from the. Labeling theory is one of the most important approaches to understanding deviant and criminal behavior within sociology. It begins with the.


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The more time we spend, the less opportunity we have to be deviant.

Deviance (sociology)

The more we believe in these norms, the less we deviate. Many studies find that youths with weaker bonds to their parents and schools are more likely to be deviant. One problem centers on the chicken-and-egg question of causal order.

For example, many studies support social control theory by finding that delinquent youths often have worse relationships with their parents than do nondelinquent theories of deviance and crime.

Explaining Deviance – Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World

Is that because the bad relationships prompt the youths to be delinquent, as Hirschi thought? The poor and minorities are more likely because of their poverty theories of deviance and crime race to be arrested, convicted, and imprisoned. These explanations also blame street crime by the poor on the economic deprivation and inequality in which they live rather than on any moral failings of the poor.

Some conflict explanations also say that capitalism helps create street crime by the poor. An early proponent of this view was Dutch criminologist Willem Bongerwho theories of deviance and crime that capitalism as an economic system involves competition for profit.


Because profit becomes so important, people in a capitalist society are more likely than those in noncapitalist ones to break the law for profit and other gains, even if their behavior hurts others. Theories of deviance and crime scholars dismiss them for painting an overly critical picture of the United States and ignoring the excesses of noncapitalistic nations, while others say the theories overstate the degree of inequality in the legal system.

  • Émile Durkheim: The Functions of Deviance

In assessing the debate over conflict explanations, a fair conclusion is that their view on discrimination by the legal system applies more to victimless crime discussed in a later section than to conventional crime, where it is difficult to argue that laws against such things as theories of deviance and crime and robbery reflect the needs of the powerful.

Simply put, the poor cannot afford good attorneys, private investigators, and the other advantages that money brings in court. As just one example, if someone much poorer than O.

Sociological Theories of Deviant Behavior

Simpson, the former football player and media celebrity, had been arrested, as he was infor viciously murdering two people, the defendant would almost certainly have been found guilty. Simpson was able to afford a defense costing hundreds of thousands of dollars and won a jury acquittal in his criminal trial Barkan, Feminist Perspectives Feminist perspectives on crime and criminal justice also fall into the broad rubric of conflict explanations and have burgeoned in the last two decades.

theories of deviance and crime

Much of this work concerns rape and sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and other crimes against women that were largely neglected until feminists began writing about them in the s Griffin, Their views have since influenced public and official attitudes about rape and domestic violence, which used to be thought as something that girls and women brought on themselves.

Another focus of feminist work is theories of deviance and crime and legal processing.

Deviance (sociology) - Wikipedia

Are women better or worse off than men when it comes to the chances of being arrested and punished? After many studies theories of deviance and crime the last two decades, the best answer is that we are not sure Belknap, Women are treated a little more harshly than men for minor crimes and a little less harshly for serious crimes, but the gender effect in general is weak.

A third focus concerns the gender difference in serious crime, as women and girls are much less likely than men and boys to engage in violence and to commit serious property crimes theories of deviance and crime as burglary and motor vehicle theft.

Most sociologists attribute this difference to gender socialization. Simply put, socialization into the male gender role, or masculinity, leads to values such as competitiveness and behavioral patterns such as spending more time away from home that all promote deviance.

Such differences challenge us to see that in the lives of women, men have a great deal more to learn.

Gender socialization helps explain why females commit less serious crime than males. Boys are raised to be competitive and aggressive, while girls are raised to be more gentle and nurturing.