Sociological Concept of Deviance

Sociological Concept of Deviance

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Part A 

Deviance in a sociological perspective can be described as actions that contravene established social norms and this also includes violation of formally-endorsed rules besides informal contravention of established social norms (Barnes 2013). Such actions that can be classified as constituting deviance include engaging in crime, in which the individual rejects or goes against formally-enacted rule and rejection of folkways where an individual contravenes social norms. This aspect of sociology has attracted a sizable amount of research where psychologists and behavioral scientists have attempted to bring out a better understanding of deviance and shed more light on what constitutes deviance. To achieve this, a number of theories have been fronted to help in understanding deviance. These points show that it is important to understand the various aspects that are associated with deviance. Norms can therefore be explained as the rules and expectations which offer conventional guidance to all members of society. This point should clearly reveal the extent to which diversity must be appreciated when it comes to social norms since it must be expected that every society has its norms that are unique according to the specific culture. Below are the various theories and perspectives upon which deviance can be understood.

Deviance from a Functionalist Perspective

Structural functionalist’s view of deviance is that deviance is an instrumental necessity to the very fabric of the society as it provides pillars upon which norms and values of the society are anchored hence relevance for regulation. Functionalist perspective portrays deviance as extreme form social dimensions of the societal bonds established in the process of social integration. For instance, a functionalist would classify suicide into three basic extreme forms which encompass egoistic suicide, anomic suicide and altruistic suicide. Altruistic suicide encompasses death for the good of the group while anomic suicide is the death caused by confusion between self-interest and collective norms. Egoistic suicide comprises death of an individual due to lack of association with other members of the society.

Deviance from an Interactionist Perspective

Interactionist perspective uses symbolic interaction to explain social deviance. Through this, individuals construct various reactions based on the patterns of interactions and adjustment between individuals in the society. People develop or construct expectations based on how they understand reality from the interactions they have. An example is where an employee moves from a company that observes strict time of arrival to one where scheduling is not strict. The employee is highly likely to be late on schedules (Sady et al 2008).

Deviance from a Conflict Perspective

According to this perspective, deviance results from situations where members of a social group are faced with inequalities in respect to social, political or material. These inequalities force some members of the social group ton engage in deviant behavior in bid to make their situation better or demonstrate against their oppressors (Humphrey & Schmalleger 2012). An example is the situation that happens quite often when Tibetan monks set themselves on fire to act out against the perceived oppression from the Chinese establishment. While this is an extreme example, Occupy Wall Street is another example where protesters are violating concept of coherence and expressing their anger with the rate of inequalities in wealth distribution.

Part B “Analyzing your own life, discuss your status in terms of ascribed status, achieved status, and master status. For each of these statuses, discuss the roles that you play. Give one example of role strain and role conflict from your own experience. Thinking about the future, which role do you think will cause you the most difficulty in terms of role exit? Why?”

Achieved status is the status of an individual in the social which gives him or her social position acquired on the basis of merit. Ascribed status on the other hand is the status or position of an individual or group of individuals that results from attributes that are beyond the control of the individual or individuals in question (Aldridge, 2008). These aspects include sex of the individual, social status of the parents or genetically –acquired health issue. Lastly, master status describes.

In the sense of achieved status, my life has been full of personal decisions that have given me a chance to have specific social positions in the society through the things I have acquired such as my current education level. These positions have been achieved as a result of a delicate choice of hard work and careful choice of areas of specialization in terms of subject choice and dedication. These positions and status are therefore earned. My achievements academically and socially have afforded me a great deal of social mobility since I have been able to advance in education to various levels. Additionally, my achieved status has provided me with the requisite cultural capital and correct attitude to approach diversity and environmental settings of diverse nature. My main role, given that I am continuing with my education is to study and attend classes regularly. These roles are guided by other school regulations that make exit a non-option unless I call off my semester.

When analyzed on the perspective of ascribed status, my status in the society as an individual of a specific gender is not something I have control over. This implies that I have to perform specific tasks in the society, which the society ascribes to the particular sex as opposed to those ascribed to members of the opposite sex. In addition, my background in terms of race and family origins gives me a unique status and yet I have no control over such aspects since they are dependent on the origins of my parents. While they limit my mobility in several ways, there are several roles expected of me and the primary role may sound weird but child-bearing is one role expected of at least every woman of child-bearing age.

From the point of view of master status, even though getting a child might look like a commonplace thing, I achieved a master status when I gave birth to my first child because this gave me a special status of being a parent. Getting a job is also not extraordinary but being given group team leader surely comes with master status. The greatest role that accompanies this status is to take care of the aspect that directly creates the status. For instance, taking care of a child would be the greatest role for an individual that has just had a child. In the case of a child, the exit option the role is only available when the child becomes of age and independent. It is however the point where role conflict immensely surfaces. Being a parent and at the same time having to attend to studies creates role conflict. Similarly, role strain is exhibited when roles collide within the same status. For instance, while the parent has to bring up the child with love and care, there must be objectivity to ensure that bad behaviors are discouraged and this might involve punishment.


HYPERLINK “” o “Edit this item”Aldridge, D. P. (2008). Our last hope: black male-female relationships in change. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse. Retrieved March 27, 2014, from,+achieved+status&ots=hk3MHLBm89&sig=4GDZCjD_0aJAqMBJBxIfJGNi-1E&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=ascribed%20status%2C%20achieved%20status&f=false

HYPERLINK “” o “Edit this item”Barnes, B. (2013). The elements of social theory. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. Retrieved March 27, 2014, from

HYPERLINK “” o “Edit this item”Humphrey, J. A., & Schmalleger, F. (2012). Deviant behavior (2nd ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning. Retrieved March 27, 2014, from

HYPERLINK “” o “Edit this item”Sady, K., Spitzmüller, C., & Witt, L. A. (2008). Good Employee, Bad Business: An Interactionist Approach To Workplace Deviance.. Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings, 8(1), 1-6. Retrieved March 27, 2014, from

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