Essay Title: Deviance is defined within a cultural context. Discuss.

Essay by rizzo_21High School, 10th gradeA-, September 2006

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Deviance may be defined as non- conformity to a given set of norms that are accepted by a significant number of people in a community or society. One distinctive category of deviance is crime, the violation of norms a society formally turns into criminal law. Even criminal law is extensive, ranging from minor traffic violations to serious offences such as murder. A subcategory of crime, juvenile delinquency, refers to the violation of legal standards by the young.

Crime has been seen as a social problem and many academics have been studying deviance for years to find a solution to this problem. They also tried to find what was wrong with the deviant himself, through physiology and psychology. In physiology, it was claimed that certain people are more prone to deviance because of genetic make- up or organic defect. In psychology, they saw the deviant as mentally abnormal and tried to find what was wrong with the deviant.

Both these perspectives were highly criticised by sociologists because they claimed that these views do not take into consideration the cultural factors and are not convincing in their claims. Many sociologists regarded deviants as different but felt that physiologist's and psychologist's explanations were inadequate, because when you are a deviant, you are breaking social laws, which meant that crime is a social problem, also concluding that crime has a social pattern and structure.

One notes how in the sub- cultural theories of deviance people who are members of deviant groups conform to the norms of that particular group and these sub- cultural groups are socialised in such a way that is considered deviant to others. Some groups even tend to regard deviant behaviour as a requirement for acceptance. These theories bring out the way in which society and therefore a culture has to...