Crimes and Deviance of a Community

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Junior (College 3rd year) ・Sociology ・APA ・7 Sources

Introduction

Sociology is a discipline that focuses on the study of social behaviors; its concepts are based on the understanding of organizations, networks, and institutions. Sociology also points its attention to providing vivid descriptions and investigations into the causes of social orders, disorders, and changes. Based on the purpose of sociology various societal components must be explained so as provide a sufficient understanding of different factors responsible for human behaviors and the effects of such behaviors on the society. Over the years three sociological concepts have been on the top consideration by various sociologies all over the world. These concepts are conformity deviance and crime, and this is because of fact that each component is responsible for way beliefs are developed in the society and the way the community reacts to individuals who do not act by societal norms and values. Many scholars in the field of sociology have adequately analyzed these concepts in recent times and have provided their views about each concept and have also pointed out the correlations between each concept. There is a need to stress that this study is developed to provide clear descriptions of the conformity deviance and crime. It shall also seek to explain the relationships existing between the terms, and at the end, the study shall provide a sound conclusion, to sum up, the ideas of the research.

Conformity

Conformity can be defined as the process of aligning beliefs attitudes and behaviors with the norms of a group. It is developed in a bid to possess similar behavioral patterns with that of a group. The term conformity has also been used in place of the word agreement. Therefore, it can be simply defined as the process by with individual yields to group pressure. It is important to note that conformity is a typical behavioral pattern in our world. The tendency of conforming is usually frequently expressed by members of a small group or by the society as a whole, (Kendall, 2012). Conformity has been said to occur in a varied number of ways it could occur as a result of unconscious societal influence or as a result of direct pressure from the society. Based on the findings posed by various scholars in the field of sociology, it has been pointed out that conformity is developed as a result of the need for individual security with a group and such group could be of similar age, culture, educational status, and religion. This behavior has often been referred to as groupthink. It is a pattern of thought developed by forced consent and self-deception. The need of the adoption of similar actions and attitudes with members of a group is based on the fact that the unwillingness’ to conform leads the risk of social rejection which an immensely dreaded state by all humans. The concept of conformity has over the years been associated with the changing youth culture and peer pressure. However there is need point out that conformity does not only pose an adverse influence on the society, it also offers various positive social effects depending on the situation. For example, the need to maintain the right lane and drive on the right side of the road is a positively beneficial form of conformity, which is in line with societal standards and values. The value of conformity to any society cannot be overemphasized i.e. it is responsible for developing and maintaining the need social standards and help the smooth functioning of the community.

Predictors of Conformity

Certain factors have been identified as the predictor of the level of societal conformity such factors include, age- the society expects people of the same age to act alike and also respond in a similar way to the societal situations. Age is also a base for the societal requisition of certain behavioral patterns from members of the society. For example, the younger generations are expected to obey and respect members of the older generation. Gender- this is also a predictor of conformity in the society. The each community have developed functional roles for members each gender, and hence they are expected to act accordingly to the societal postulations of roles. Failure to adhere with such gender role differentiation will result in heights of punishment and dissociations. Last, culture is also a vivid predictor of conformity within the society. Culture is the way of life of every society hence it a norm of members of such community to act by its cultural dictates, (Bush, et al. 2002)

Types of Conformity

The practice of societal conformity could also be accessed by looking at its typologies, which have been divided into three broad categories i.e. compliance, internalization, and identification. By compliance, an individual is expected to accept societal influence based on the expectation of the attainment favorable reactions from other members of the community. It is an adoption of similar behavioral patterns to attain gains, approvals, rewards and in a bid to avoid any form of punishments associated with societal disapproval. The process of internalization occurs when a person accepts an influence as a result of the content of the induce behaviors. It is an intense level of association as the person is expected to publicly and privately associate with the demands and behavioral expectations of the group. Identification is the last type of conformity, and it occurs when people accepts the values and influences because they want to develop and maintain a long lasting relationship, (Cialdini, and Goldstein, 2004).

Deviance

The concept of deviance has been described in sociology as any actions or behaviors that violate or contradict social norms. The actions could be carried out against formally instituted societal norms, and in such case, it is classified as a crime. However, a deviance act could also be in the form of an informal violation of social norms which could be referred to as rejection of mores and folkway. Norms are expectations and rules developed by a community, and hence it is required that all its members must obey such rules, the inability to abide by such rules is regarded as an unacceptable behavior in the society and can be classified as an absence of conformity, (Kendall, 2012). There is need to point out that social norms differed from culture to culture, therefore what could be termed as a wrong action in one culture could be an accepted norm in another culture. For example adultery which is the act sex outside marriage is a perverted act in some communities; however, it is a standard in others. Killing another person is wrong. However, it could be a non-deviant act when expressed legal permission is sought or in times of war. Therefore sociological consideration of deviant acts could be classified as any thought, action or feelings that the members of a social group refer to as a violation of their rules, values and team conduct; therefore such acts are terms as inappropriate.

Theories of Deviance

The sociologist in the quest for understanding the concept of deviance has developed a couple of theories. There is a need to start by examining the differential association theory. The theory was coined as a means of addressing issues of how people learn or develop deviance behaviors. It points out that the environment plays a primary role in the decision of which norm people will learn to violate. Therefore it also the duty of each social stratum to develop specifics guide for what is a norm, deviance or conformity. The differential association theory could be used as a tool for assessing various types of deviant behaviors. For example, the prevalence of juvenile gangs within the society provides an environment in which young adults are prone to learning criminal behaviors. The use of the differential association theory has contributed immensely to the field of criminology by providing a vivid description of the developmental nature of criminality. It, therefore, concludes that people learn deviant behaviors from the individuals they associate with, (Shulte, 2001).

The anomie theory describes what is obtainable in situations of social norm conflicts and situations when there are no social norm conflicts. It has been used to vividly portray the difference between socially accepted goals and the availability if the means of attaining such goals. For example, the attainment of wealth is the aim of all members of the society however not everyone has the means of achieving such goals. Therefore those who don’t attain wealth in the society are said to have experienced anomie because an obstacle had prevented them from reaching a socially approved goal of the community. The primary contribution of this theory is its ability to provide explanations for various forms of deviance and provide emphasis on the roles of social forces in the creation of deviances, (Downes, et al. 2016).

The Labeling Theory also provides a clear description of the concept deviance. However, it is concerned with the meaning people derive from the societal labels they attach to one another. The theory opines that behaviors could only be deviant when the society labels it. Therefore the conforming members of the society who have classified some behaviors as unaccepted are said to attach labels to identify non-conforming members of the society. Influential members of the society such as politicians, judges, medical doctors, and police officers have been renowned for the role they play in imposing societal labels. The labeled people in most communities includes drug addicts, alcoholics, criminals, sex offenders, mentally retarded, delinquents and psychiatric patient; being labeled as a societal deviant have some consequences which include dissociation and low self-image, (Downes, et al. 2016).

Positive Deviants

There is need to conclude by looking at the concept of positive deviants, which has gained a lot if sociological attention in recent times. The idea was brought into the limelight in the 1970s when some researchers observed that irrespective of the poverty in a community some farmers were able to raise well-nourished children.  A positive deviant can be classified as a person who has a different behavior from that of the members of the community. However, he or she seems to be more successful when compared others. Based on the variety of adopted views of a positive deviant he or she can analyze issues and offer practical solutions netter than that of his or her peers, (Marsh, et al. 2004).

Crime

In literate terms, a crime can be defined as an unlawful act that is punishable by the laws of a country, a state or society. Therefore in a community, the authority to classify an action as a crime in located in the law. Crimes mean different things to diverse communities; however, it is based on the general idea of improper conducts. Acts such as rape, murder, and theft have been classified as criminal and prohibited worldwide. Many countries have lists of crimes well documented in their criminal laws or penal codes. Crimes are punishable by the legislation of every country hence the placement of sanctions may be as strive as execution and imprisonment or as small as minor fines. After providing a background for regarding the general notion of crime, there is a need to at this juncture look at the sociological description of crimes. A crime is viewed as s deviant behaviors which completely violates the universal laws and norms of the society. The approach provided by this definition is based on a deep consideration for the complexities of the realities that surrounds the concepts of crimes and with a view of trying to understand how the constant change in factors such as social, economic, politics and psychology may affect the description of offenses and the types of law enforcement. Crimes occur as the result of the inability of members of the community to conform to acceptable behavioral pattern hence leading to the adoption deviant actions hence breaking the moral codes of the society, (Kendall, 2012).

Types of crimes

Crime could be categorized into groups based on their nature and the group of people that engage in such offenses.  Such categories include internet crimes and the organized crime. Organized crimes are a form of categorization giving to national, transnational and highly centralize organizations managed by criminal elements in the society. The primary aim of organized crimes is to engage in legal activities with the objective of earning monetary benefits in the form of profits or other incentives. There are various motivations that have been associated with the perpetrators of organized crimes, for example, terrorism could be religiously or politically motivated. Criminal organizations are usually very power and influential and based on the enormous resource available at their disposals they could extort people and in some cases cause physical injuries or even deaths. Many of this group are disciplined hence the need to refer to them as a criminal organization; they have also been providing with deferent names such as syndicates, mafias, and mobs, (Akers, 2011).

The prevalence of technological advancement and the recent invention in the world of ICT have presented the world with a new wave of deviant societal behaviors known as internet crimes. This form of criminal activity involving the use of a computer over a network and such computer may be utilized as a tool to commit the crime or as a target for the intended crime. The act has been defined as an intentional action perpetrated against a person or a group of individuals with the intention of causing harm or damaging their reputation. Internet crimes or cyber crimes could have far-reaching effects on the society as it threatens national security. In recent times the issues surrounding internet crimes include hacking, unwanted mass-surveillance, copyright, infringements, child grooming and child pornography. Internet crimes have also been adopted as a tool targeted at young adults. It has also been used against women with the primary aim of causing physical and psychological harm, (Reid, 2015).

Theories of Crimes

Sociologists in the quest to provide a vivid description of the effects and reason behind crimes in the society have developed various crimes theories to create logical explanations of such actions. The rational choice theory points out that people will act in their self-interest and will only commit a crime after weight the imminent risk associated with such offenses. The social disorganization theory also emphasizes that a key factor that determines an individual’s choices is the content of his or her physical and social environment. Therefore higher tendencies for crimes will be stimulated by the presence of criminal elements within the community. The strain theory opined that most people tend to have similar hopes, dreams, and aspirations. However, they do not have the same resources opportunities and abilities hence when people are unable to attain their expectations through societal approved methods such as delayed gratification and hard work they attempt to achieve success through crimes. The social control theory stressed that most people would commit if not for the large restriction placed on them by societal institutions such as workplace, churches, schools, and families. There is need to conclude this session by also considering other prominent theorists who based their postulation biology, genetic and evolution. These scholars believe that some biological factors such as poor diet, brain chemistry, mental illness are also a determinative factor that could either stimulate or reduce the crime rates of society, (Luban, 2004).

Conclusion

Since the inception of humanity, people have lived together and have developed into group’s peers, communities and other forms of stratifications. The relationship between members of every society is regulated by principles drawn up to determine what is right and what is wrong within a society. These principles, therefore, evolve into our culture which is our way of life. Our culture defines the way we live and the way we view certain societal events. It is right to point out that the acceptable societal behaviors are regarded as sound norms and values of which each community, society or group is unwilling to compromise. Hence all members of such community are expected to conform to the standards of the society i.e. conformity which is the ability to adopt and live by every acceptable behavior, standards and values of the society. In occasions where people refuse to act by the accepted norm of society, they are referred to as deviants. It is imperative to note the deviant acts are unacceptable in the society and hence it comes with the risk of social rejection. Crimes are deviant behaviors that violate the norms of a particular community which is highly punishable by the laws of such community. There is need to conclude this study by stating that the nonconformity with social norms is deviance and all act of deviance are referred to as crimes within a community.

Reference

Akers, R. L. (2011). Social learning and social structure: A general theory of crime and deviance. Transaction Publishers.

Bush, K. R., Lash, S., Peterson, G. W., & Wilson, S. M. (2002). Mexican and Chinese adolescents’ sense of familism and perceptions of parental authority and behavior as predictors of conformity to parents. In Chinese Family Strengths Conference: Family Optimization and Cohesion, Shanghai, China.

Downes, D., Rock, P., & McLaughlin, E. (2016). Understanding deviance: a guide to the sociology of crime and rule-breaking. Oxford University Press.

 Kendall, D. (2012). Sociology in our times. Cengage Learning.

Luban, D. (2004). A theory of crimes against humanity. Yale J. Int'l L., 29, 85.

Marsh, D. R., Schroeder, D. G., Dearden, K. A., Sternin, J., & Sternin, M. (2004). The power of positive deviance. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 329(7475), 1177.

Reid, S. T. (2015). Crime and criminology. Wolters Kluwer Law & Business.

Shulte, A. (2001). Theories of Deviance. Teaching Sociology, 29(1), 132.

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