Howard Becker makes a claim that social groups normally create deviance by making specific rules whose infraction constitute deviance. When these rules are applied to particular people who are not part of the group, there are bound be infractions and as such, the people will be labeled as deviants. Howard’s point of view seems to suggest that deviance is not a quality of the act commited by an individual but is rather a consequence or a result of application of sanctions and rules to an offender.
Personally, I agree with Becker’s assertion. It is very common in the society to witness members of a particular social group not getting along with others who are not part of the group. Most of these outsiders are labeled as deviants and the members of that particular social group may even be disgusted with the behaviour of the outsiders that would conventionally be considered normal. I have personally experienced this having once been a member of such a social group that had a set of specifically defined rules. The social group that I am refereeing to was a local fan base for the English soccer club, Liverpool F.C. As a group, we had a habit of meeting once a week to watch the weekly soccer match. We had become used to each other and over time, we had developed unspoken rules about the conduct of every member. For instance, it was a taboo for any member to ill talk any player of the club. We basically supported our team whether we won, lost or drew. In addition, we had established a particular code for celebrating the club’s wins that was very reserved. It was such rules that made us completely wary of other club’s supporters. For instance, we were personally disgusted by the other teams’ supporters who openly ill talked their team or even booed their teams whenever they. Additionally, their hooliganism behaviour of making noise across the whole neighborhood whenever their teams won or achieved something was regarded as deviant behavior.
Deviant behaviour exists in many forms and as such, there are several theoretical approaches are used to explain deviant behavior. The Youtube video “Why I love shoplifting” depicted one form of deviant behaviour and this is shop lifting. The main character engaged in a lot of shop lifting and there are several things that can be deducted from this video about this form of deviant behavior.
One theoretical approach that could be used to explain why the individual in the clip engages in the deviant behaviour of shoplifting is the structural strain theory. The individual’s deviant behaviour could be seen to be as a result of a clash of cultural and social structure. Culture essentially establishes goals for individuals in the society while the social structure provides the means for achieving those goals. In a society that is well integrated, individuals will tend to use appropriate and accepted means of achieving goals established by the society. However, when an imbalance occurs between the goals and the means of achieving them, deviance is likely to occur. The theory classifies people into five categories in regards to the relationship between the culturally accepted goals and the means of achieving them. The categories are conformists, ritualists, innovators, rebels and retreats. The character in “Why I love shoplifting” can be considered to be an innovator. He has a barefaced disregard for conventional methods that have been established for attaining assets and wealth and therefore engages in an unconventional means and that is shoplifting which is actually a criminal activity.
In “Researching Drug Dealers and Smugglers”, Adler leaves behind a lot of her personal values and embraces ernomous risks so as to perform the research project. She engages with drug dealers and freely interacts with them so as to gain insight into this form of deviant behaviour that is drug dealing. One particular strength of this kind of research is that it enables the researcher to gain uncensored information from the direct source. By observing the drug dealers in the course of their deviant activity, Adler was able to make accurate psychological deductions about this form of deviant behaviour. However, such a research project as mentioned earlier is not devoid of weaknesses and the most pronounced of these is risk of life. It is common knowledge that in the drug dealing business and things could go awry at any moment. Had the drug dealers suddenly decided that Adler was D.E.A spy; they could have easily turned on her.
However, it is very likely that Adler thought conclusively about the project before she took part in it. She must have had a series of pre set questions that she hoped to answer through the project. For instance, if I was to engage in such a project, some of the questions that I would be stealing to answer would include:
- What is the motivation that the individuals engaging in such form of deviant behaviour have?
- How did they enter into this form of deviant behaviour?
- Do they officially recognize that their behaviour is deviant?
- What are some of the theoretical approaches that can be used to explain this form of deviant behaviour?
It is very unlikely that these questions could have answered by studying official documentation, such statistics and survey data. This is because the drug dealing business has very reserved statistics, something that has effected by federal authorities mainly for security purposes. However, by engaging in the unorthodox method of research such as the one adopted by Adler, it is very possible for the above questions to be answered conclusively.
In trying to understand the concept of deviance better, I engaged in comprehensive search process for research articles describing varying forms of deviance. There was one particular article that captured my eyes and indeed my mind and this was an article exploring work place deviance behaviors. The article is titled “Positive and Negative Deviant workplace behaviors: cause impacts and solutions.
This article by Steven H. Appelbaum, Giulio David Iaconi and Albert Matousek sought to examine or to explore the impact that negative deviant behaviour such as theft, absenteeism and lateness has on organizations as well as the implications of positive behavior. The search also sought to examine why employees engage in such deviant behaviour. The other research question that this article sought to examine was why organizations essentially allow such behaviour to thrive in their organizations.
It is high likely that had the researchers a primary data collection method; the result would have been somehow different. This is because primary data collection enables one to interact one on one with the field of research and is able to make more accurate deductions. The new method would have enabled the answering of the same research questions but in a more conclusive manner.
Adler, Patricia A, and Peter Adler. Constructions of Deviance: Social Power, Context, and Interaction. 7th ed. Australia: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.
Appelbaum, Steven H., Giulio D. Iaconi, and Albert Matousek. "Positive and negative deviant workplace behaviors: causes, impacts, and solutions." Corporate Governance7.5 (2007): 586-598. Print.