In any given societal entity, there exist specific societal norms that should be adhered to. Many at times, such societal norms are necessary for the attainment of common good across various societal contexts. Notably, deviance occurs in cases where an individual violates the existing societal norms (Anderson 8). Evidently, societal norms may be enacted formally, whereas others are enacted informally. Worth noting is the fact that various theorists have come up with different hypothesis regarding deviance. Even so, all the theorists view deviance as actions, and feeling, which can violates the values a given society. As such, deviance varies depending on place and time.
Howard Becker’s view of deviance
Becker’s labelling theory offers critical insights regarding the scope of deviance. In his theory, Becker notes that social deviance is a result of labelling. Precisely, Becker argues that people in a higher position in the society create certain norms, which label certain behaviours as deviant. Therefore, people who are deemed to engage in deviant behaviours are deemed so because of mere labels”” created by the society on what is good and bad. In a nutshell, the society through the existing societal groups create certain rules, and infraction of these rules results in deviance (Smelser 38). Overall, Becker asserts that societal rules are created with the sole intent of portraying the notion that certain societal members who do not adhere to such rules are rebellious.
Emile Durkheim view of deviance
Durkheim structural and functional theory delves on a number of issues regarding deviance in the society. In this theory, Durkheim’s theory delves on the fact the society is filled with a number of complexities, which are closely aligned with each other. As a result of different complexities that are notable in the society, deviance becomes part and parcel of the society. This is because as people try to handle the complexities of life, they are at times forced to engage in deviant activities. As such, Durkheim hails the essence of deviance in that it reinforces behaviours that are deemed acceptable and unacceptable to the society. In a nutshell, Durkheim’s concludes that deviance in the society is recommendable because it creates a platform where people can appreciate the good. In fact, Durkheim notes that existence of deviance allows societal members to identify feasible ways of resolving deviant in the society; hence, enhancing the sense of togetherness in the society (Anderson 64).
The most applicable of the two theories in the year 2014
Based on a personal thought, the most applicable theory between the two theories discussed above is Backer’s labelling theory. This is because of the primary fact that there are a number of cases of unjustified imposition of stringent rules on certain societal factors. As an example, smoking of marijuana has been regarded a deviant behaviour across various settings while in the real sense, marijuana is not harmful; hence, not worth being termed as a deviant behaviour. Notably, marijuana has certain medicinal values, which are crucial in managing cancer, a disease that has evolved into a global epidemic. Therefore, stringent controls on marijuana use with the notion that it is a deviant behaviour depicts the manner in which certain behaviours are labelled as deviant by the society while in the real sense, they do not qualify to be termed as deviant (Smelser 24).
Another example that justifies the fact that Becker’s labelling theory is the most applicable in the year 2014 is the fact that there are several cases in the contemporary society whereby people in authority have developed rules, which they do not adhere to themselves. Instead, such rules are only adhered by those not in authority. This concurs with Becker’s assertions that people in authority create rules for their own best interest.
Anderson, Tammy. Understanding Deviance: Connecting Classical and Contemporary Perspectives: Contemporary Sociological Perspectives. Boston: Routledge, 2014. Print.
Smelser, Neil. Sociological Theory – A Contemporary View: How to Read, Criticize and Do Theory. New York: Quid Pro Books, 2013. Print.