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‘Outline and Discuss Some Sociological Perspectives on Deviance’

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By elodie22
Words 343
Pages 2
When looking at the topic of deviance, sociologists make it clear to define between

what is criminal and what is deviant or at least what is seen to be either of these two

things. For example, when defining deviance, sociologists often describe it as the

breaking of social norms as opposed to the breaking of criminal law as a crime would

be defined. In this essay I am going to discuss different sociological perspectives on

the issue of deviance, how it affects society as a whole as well as individuals, and

different social groups within it. I will be looking at what are believed to be the

functions of deviance to society, if any, and arguments as to whether deviance is

positive or negative.

One sociological perspective on deviance is that it is perfectly normal in all healthy

societies. For example, functionalists see society as based on a value consensus,

meaning all members share common norms and values and are in agreement of what

is acceptable and unacceptable in society. They suggest that all social institutions

work together to create social harmony and social order that assist in the smooth

running of society. Functionalists therefore, see deviance as being a positive attribute

for society. Durkheim, a functionalist, says that deviance is inevitable in society; in

other words, it is impossible to have no deviance. Durkheim says that the punishment

of deviance warns people away from wrongdoing through things such as public

punishment and criminal trials, it reinforces boundaries, and makes people aware of

what is right and wrong. He also believes that deviance can bring about change as

things that may be seen as deviant at first can turn into a new set of morals. Davis

(1961) agrees with the functionalist perspective that deviance is functional for society.


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