The term “Deviance” has several definitions but what all social deviant behavior has in common is noticing a difference in another and that difference makes them an outsider. However, not all deviant labels are criminal or by choice such as mental illness. Deviance is socially created and found in all societies but not all societies share the same norms. Therefore, what is acceptable in one society could be labeled as deviant in another. In some cultures tattoos are considered deviant, while in others, such as indigenous tribal cultures, it is acceptable and even necessary.
The three perspectives on defining deviance are the absolutist perspective, relativist perspective, and the social power perspective. The absolutist perspective considers that a widespread consensus exists about what is or is not deviant. Absolutist views of deviance are eternal and global, if something has been judged as morally wrong in one place then it should be judged as wrong everywhere.
The relativist perspective argues that deviance is in the eye of the beholder instead of the act itself so that deviance may vary in the way it is defined by time and place. Definitions of deviance are social products that are likely to arise under certain situational circumstances. Relativists believe there benefits of deviance and that there are four positive functions. The first is people bond together when reacting against the deviance of others. Second, social boundaries can be reinforced by identifying and punishing deviance. Third, deviance keeps society from being stagnated. The fourth positive function is that all occupations associated with deviance such as the criminal justice system would be threatened if society did not have labels of deviance.
The social power perspective views that crime and deviance are not just formed by any group of individuals but by a powerful group of individuals. Here the belief is that laws reflect the interests and concerns of the dominant classes in society and that society is characterized by conflict between groups with conflicting interests. This leads deviance to represent the unequal power within society.
Attitudes, behaviors, and conditions are the ABCs of deviance. A person must first be labeled as deviant for their alternative attitudes or beliefs. Attitudes of religious beliefs are different and vary from individuals but not having a religious affiliation at all is a growing form of deviance. Extreme political attitudes can also be labeled as deviant such as republican, democrat, or even terrorist.
Behavior can expose deviance by showing outward actions that are not of the norm. A deviant behavior can be intentional by the way a person choses to dress or by doing drugs. However, a deviant behavior can also be unintentional such as differences in sexual behaviors. Either way, a person is given the label of deviant because of something they have done making the behavior category have an achieved deviant status.
An ascribed deviant status is given based on a condition acquired from birth. Socioeconomic status, race, a physical or mental disability are examples of these types of conditions. Conditional deviant status may also be achieved by an unfortunate accident such as one that can cause disfigurement or even by tattoos and piercings.
Rule creators are a type of moral entrepreneur, including people with occupations of politicians, crusading public figures, school administrators, teachers, parents, and CEOs of business organizations. Individuals or groups can do rule creating but it is most common for individuals to band together and use collective resources to change social definitions and to create what is a norm as well as creating rules. Rule creators define the behavior of others as immoral and therefore deviant because they see people as threats and fear their behavior.
The first goal is to create awareness of a problem with the use of “clams-making” to assert danger messages, usually with specific solutions that the rule creators recommend. Second, rule creators make a moral conversion that convinces other people of their views. They must gain the support of sponsors who are liked and respected to be able to provide public endorsement. Third, they look to different groups in society to form alliances or coalitions for their support.
One ingredient for a drug scare is media magnification. The media dramatize drug problems with the use of news and sales promotions. Media engages in routinization of caricature by making worst case scenarios into typical ones as well as the episodic into the epidemic. Media influence is seen through the use of commercials promoting a new product, or by listing the dangers of a product. The media uses the news as well as other social media networks such as Facebook for advertisements of prescription drugs.
There are television shows promoting scare tactics such as “Scared Straight” or rehabilitation ambushes. Many films include story lines that never end well for people on drugs, just as there are films promoting sobriety. Nowadays the media is everywhere as a huge part of people’s daily lives the media knows it can take advantage of that by showing exactly what they want to. A lot of people are gullible or too lazy to research the facts on their own so they are more willing to just listen and believe whatever is on the media.
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