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Paper Topic:

Explanation of the Processual Theory on Deviance


The study of deviance is quite different from other fields because it is not easy to define deviance . For one reason , deviance is a relative term which makes deviance a relative phenomenon as well . A behavior which may be considered deviant in one culture may be perfectly acceptable in another culture . [1]

Deviance , then , is a much more generic (general ) category than crime Indeed , sociology divides deviance into two distinct categories :-

Informal deviance . Refers to the fact that an individual (or group of individuals ) may be slightly non-conformist to

the general trend of society however , his /her /their behaviour does not constitute an illegal act

Formal deviance Describes an act committed by a person or group of persons that contravenes (goes against ) the established laws of society A formal deviant is therefore a criminal

Sociology is concerned with the study of both formal and informal deviance . For the purpose of having a working parameter , deviance can be defined as any behavior that violates cultural norms . [1] . Within this framework social science theories attempt to explain the human behavior and society and try to understand why people conform or deviate . Numerous theories in this regard have been developed which discuss the structures and processes by which deviance occurs . These theories are of two main types as follows :-

Structural Theories Also known as Social Theories , these attempt to address the epidemiology of deviance i .e . they explain the social structures and conditions which lead to deviation . [2]

Processual Theories Also known as Social Psychological Theories , they address the

etiology of deviance i .e . they describe the processes by which indls come to commit deviant acts . [2]

Structuralist sociology is a form of macro sociological theorizing which looks at institutional arrangements and relationships , since these are seen as the basic building-blocks of any society . The way in which institutions relate to one another determines the structure and basic character of any society . In to learn how to behave in society therefore , arrangements have to be made for people to fit-into existing patterns of behavior . Theory of Anomie by Emile Durkheim and Theory of Strain by Robert Merton are very important in this category of sociology . [2]

Theory of Anomie . In any analysis of Functionalist theory , the work of Emile Durkheim looms large , mainly because he tends to be seen as the first sociologist to explicitly attempt the systematic theorizing and empirical study of the social world . Durkheim argues that people are shaped by their social experiences and it follows that if the collective conscience is weakened by , for example , too much criminal behavior , the moral ties that bind people together are also weakened . When this happens , the concept used by Durkheim to express this weakening of moral ties was that of Anomie . [3]

For Durkheim , anomie occurred when traditional norms of behavior were undermined without being replaced by new norms . In the absence of clear moral guide-lines for their behavior , people experience feelings of anxiety , aimlessness , purposelessness , disorientation and...

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