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Paper Topic:

Deviant Behavior


A person would be considered to be acting deviantly in society if they are violating what the significant social norm in that particular culture is . This form of behavior would be termed as Deviant Behavior

A lot of research has been done on Deviant Behavior over the years , but researchers are yet to agree on a single answer to their quest , and are far from coming up with a single and exact reason as to why a person acts deviantly . The three major answers researchers found out were psychological , biological

, and sociological answers . Although sociologists ' theories have not been disproved as often as the psychologists ' and biologists ' theories because their experiments are too hard to define and no single definition for deviance is agreed upon by all experimenters (Pfuhl , 1980 .

.40 . The most knowledge acquired for why people act deviantly is from the sociological perspective . There is need for more research , if possible , in the psychological and biological perspectives , but there is a lot more known in the sociological viewpoint . The reality that the definition of deviant behavior is considered different by everyone makes it complicated and unknown if a truly accurate answer can ever be found (Pfuhl , 1980 br


What causes a person to act a certain way is , the least to say a controversial . It may be from inherited traits , learned from society and family , or even a combination of both

Why do people deviate

Biological explanations

Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909

Criminals are evolutionary throwbacks

Criminals are born , not made

William Sheldon (1898-1977

Linked personality type to body type

Body type is related to behavior (focus on criminal types - mesomorphs more likely to be criminal

Psychological explanations

Freud - criminals have weak or damaged egos or poor superego control Driven by the id

Other psychological factors : cognition learning personality traits

Social learning theory

Deviant behavior that is positively reinforced may be repeated or imitated

Deviant behavior is learned in group context

Sociological Explanations

Strain theory

Lower-class focal value theory

Differential association theory

We know that a corporation is a legal entity created by state and federal laws . And that a corporate action is carried out by two or more persons . Corporate crimes involve planning , strategic placement and the deviance must be harmful to individuals outside of the organization or to other organizations . The deviance of corporate representatives must further the aims and interests of the corporation , the deviance must be supported or tolerated by top executives and coworkers the primary beneficiary of this deviant activity is the corporation itself

In the past decades corporate transgressions have became a major socio-political problem both in the developed and developing countries The phenomenon of corporate deviance requires critical cross-disciplinary studies that might illuminate the darker side of contemporary business practice . We have to acknowledge that one is dealing with institutional practices that are not easily examinable by conventional means . Study of corporate transgressions is highly reliant on scandals , the media , public inquiries , police investigations , and whistle-blowers for glimpses of the concealed world of top management and its involvement in dirty tricks . Much research relies , then , on published secondary sources (Punch , 1996

Corporate transgression is about the exercise and abuse of power that is closely linked to the legitimate conduct of business . The essence of business is pursuit of legitimate interests of the parties involved in transactions circumscribed by rules that protect both the parties and their relationship to the interests of the public , society , the state and regulatory agencies (Clarke , 1990

Although , a great deal of corporate transgression is never classified as crime , and the law plays a minor role in its regulation , the greatest discrepancy between common and white-collar violations is that corporations have the power to mobilize resources to influence the rules that cover their own conduct . In many cases , corporations actively defend their interests in ways that would normally be unthinkable for common law breakers (Punch , 1996

The most striking aspect of corporate transgression is that it is committed not by dangerous , criminally-oriented mavericks but by eminent members of the business community who break the rules ostensibly in the interests of their companies and their own interests (Levi , 1987 . The challenging question is why otherwise good managers engage in dirty business and why their conscience never bothers them (Punch , 1996 ? In this article we draw on the theory and empirical findings of moral psychology to shed some light on this paradox

Before moving ahead to analyzing and studying a case it would be important to now why Corporate Deviance is not a crime

A corporation is a legal device and is formed when a State bureaucrat issues a certificate which says that a group of investors have fulfilled some minor and virtually costless procedural requirements to support their application to create a corporation . To start up the corporation each of those investors contributes some capital to their new creation and they appoint people to manage that capital . In law , the instant the corporation is formed , the contributed capital becomes the exclusive private property of the corporation , of this non-thing . In the result the corporation , this artificially created thing , becomes a legal person , like you and I - at least for the purposes of the law . It is the corporation , through its managers , which , as the property owning person determines how the property should be used . Its legal task is to use it to maximize the profitable use of the capital it now owns it has no human values to pursue . The investors , each of whom contributes a fraction of the capital , are entitled to share in the profits so earned by the corporation . This is why they are referred-to as shareholders While they have appointment and firing power over the managers of the corporation , shareholders in large corporations , such as the criminogenic Shell , Union Carbide , Dow Chemical , Ford Motors , La Roche-Hoffman , Reed , A .H . Robins , General Electric Johns-Manville , Holmes Foundry , all corporations whose neglect and /or willful disregard of well-known standards of behavior caused grievous harm , have little incentive to ensure that these managers behave legally , ethically or decently . This is so because , as investors who do not legally own the property of the corporation used to do harm , they have no personal that they can use to pursue profits , the privilege of limited liability . This means that all they can lose is the amount they originally invested . Those hurt by the corporate conduct cannot look for redress from shareholders beyond the amount invested in the corporation and which belongs to the corporation . The shareholders ' private wealth is untouchable . That is , those rich shareholders who are always telling the wealth--less and the poor to be accountable and responsible for the way in which they act and live , are , in law , irresponsible for the (often nefarious ) conduct of their corporations . It gets worse Immediate legal difficulties arise when the corporation , in its endless pursuit of profits at any cost , violates the law . As emphasized criminal law is based on the notion that an individual , exercising free will as a sovereign person , must have committed the violating act with the requisite wrongful intent . Now , functionally , although not legally a corporation is a collective : it is an aggregation of separate capitals , assets , investors , managers and workers . The law 's need to pretend that the corporation is an individual , so that it can ho ld property as an individual and purport to act as an individual market actor , does not negate the reality : the corporation is not an individual . It is thus only the pretence that the corporation is an individual which permits the application of criminal law to its conduct to a person which can act and think as an individual . It follows that it does not feel natural for the authorities to use the criminal law against corporations . And , when it is plain that the conduct warrants the invocation of criminal law , the pretence which renders the corporation an individual leads to ridiculous distortions

Whatever the pretence about the personhood of the corporation , it is just a legal creation , not a human being capable of acting and thinking Accordingly , to apply criminal law to corporations , law has had to pretend some more . It holds that the acts and intentions of the corporation 's senior management - but not of its shareholders - are the acts and intentions of the corporation


The Ford Pinto Case (Hoffman , 1984

On August 10 , 1978 , a tragic automobile accident occurred on US Highway 33 near Goshen , Indiana . Sisters Judy and Lynn Ulrich and their cousin Donna Ulrich were struck from the rear in their 1973 Ford Pinto by a van . The gas tank of the Pinto ruptured , the car burst into flames and the three teenagers were burned to death

This was not the only case where the Ford Pinto caused serious accident by explosion . By conservative estimates Pinto crashes had caused at least 500 burn deaths . There were law suits against Ford because it had been proven that the top managers of the company were informed about the serious design problem of the model . Despite the warnings of their engineers , the Ford management decided to manufacture and sell the car with the dangerously defective design

Ford used different moral disengagement strategies to defend its highly controversial decision . First , Ford continuously claimed that the Pinto is safe ' thus denying the risk of injurious consequences . Ford managers justified their claim by referring to the US safety regulation standards in effect until 1977 . In doing so they displaced their responsibility for a car that caused hundreds of deaths to the driving practices of people , who would not have been seriously injured if their Ford Pinto had not been designed in a way that made it easily inflammable in a collision

Ford engineers concluded that the safety problem of the Pinto could be solved by a minor technological adjustment . This would have cost only 11 per car to prevent the gas tank from rupturing so easily . Ford produced an intriguing and controversial cost-benefit analyses study to prove that this modification was not cost-effective to society . The study provided social justification for not making that option available to the customers

Ford convinced itself that it is better to pay millions of dollars in Pinto jury trials and out-of-court settlements than to improve the safety of the model . By placing dollar values on human life and suffering Ford simply disregarded the consequences of its practice relating to safety of millions of customers


Sutherland 's differential association

In his differential association theory , Edwin Sutherland posited that criminals learn criminal and deviant behaviors and that deviance is not inherently a part of a particular individual 's nature . Also , he argues that criminal behavior is learned in the same way that all other behaviors are learned , meaning that the acquisition of criminal knowledge is not unique compared to the learning of other behaviors (Wikipedia

According to many critics and analysts , Corporate deviance is something that is inherent in the society according to them its not these people on whose shoulders we should put all the blame , rather we should try to find out the root causes for such circumstances and situations

Many believe the judicial system to be somewhat vulnerable in this case as all the rules that are defined are individualistic whereas a Corporation is not an individual-run organization , hence it is always easy for people who are guilt of Corporate Deviance to get away or find an easy exit . Some also go further in their analysis and say it is these rich men that sit in the Congress and the Senate and are responsible for running the state and passing laws

Sutherland 's theory hence applies here somewhat as these are the circumstances surrounding us and when you know there is no accountability for being deviant and unethical you are inclined to do so 2 . Neutralization theory

Gresham Sykes and David Matza 's neutralization theory explains how deviants justified their deviant behaviors by adjusting the definitions of their actions and by explaining to themselves and others the lack of guilt of their actions in particular situations . There are five different types of rationalizations , which are the denial of responsibility , the denial of injury , the denial of the victim , the condemnation of the condemners , and the appeal to higher loyalties (Wikipedia

The theory applies to the Ford-Pinto case as Ford constantly and continuously denounced the fact that there car was not safe and that even if they would want to make it safer , which according to them wasn 't necessary the car would no longer be cost-beneficient . This was not it Ford convinced itself that it was better to pay millions of dollars in Pinto jury trials and out-of-court settlements than to improve the safety of the model , which according to the Ford engineers would have added a per unit cost of 11


The above remarks clearly give us an indication that Ford and many other organizations , i .e . their top management only thinks about how they could fill in their profit , and Profit maximization is the one and only goal that they have in their minds . They don 't care what harms it may cause to the firm 's reputation or the society , they will be as unethical as they can get when the opportunity comes and will try to make a fortune out of it

And there have been many of such cases . I guess when the mechanisms of moral disengagement are at work in corporations , business ethics is difficult to manage , especially when the sanctioning practices are surreptitious and the responsibility for policies is diffused . Numerous exonerative strategies can be enlisted to disengage social and moral sanctions from detrimental practices with a low sense of personal accountability . A central issue is how to counteract moral disengagement strategies of corporations

From the perspective of business ethics , there are several strategies for counteracting resort to moral disengagement . One approach is to monitor and publicize corporate practices that have detrimental human effects . The more visible the consequences on the affected parties for the decision makers , the less likely that they can be disregarded distorted or minimized for long . Another approach is to increase transparency of the discourse by which the deliberation of corporate policies and practices are born . The more public the discourse about corporate decisions and policies , the less likely are corporate managers to justify the reprehensible conduct of their organizations


Bandura , A (1986 . Social foundations of thought and action : A social cognitive theory .Englewood Cliffs , NJ : Prentice Hall

Bandura , A (1990 . Mechanisms of moral disengagement . In W . Reich (Ed , Origins of Terrorism : Psychology , Ideologies , States of Mind pp 45-103 . Cambridge University Press

Bandura , A (1991 . Social cognitive theory of moral thought and action . In W . M . Kurtines J . L . Gewirtz (eds : Handbook of moral behavior and development , Vol . 1 , pp . 45-103 . Englewood Cliffs , NJ Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Downes , David Rock , Paul (2007 . Understanding Deviance .Oxford University Press

Humphrey , John A (2005 . Deviant Behavior . Prentice Hall

obes , Patrick (1971 . Theories of deviant behavior . University of Colorado , Center for Action Research

Pfuhl , Erdwin H . Jr (1980 . The Deviance Process . New York : D . Van Nostrand

Traub , Stuart H Little , Craig B (1999 . Theories of Deviance Wadsworth Publishing 5 editions ...

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