Law&Society

Abstract

In society, where social control forces predetermine the emergence and spreading of deviant behaviors, the role of these forces is largely overestimated; and where criminals engage into an act which is officially considered deviant, social control cannot solely be responsible for escalating crime. It appears, that beyond the traditional limits of social control there is a whole set of hidden factors, which should be discovered and monitored, to ensure that we are able to timely address deception, paradox, and incongruities in the modern system of law.

Law & Society

In society, where social control forces predetermine the emergence and spreading of deviant behaviors, the role of these forces is largely overestimated; and where criminals engage into an act which is officially considered deviant, social control cannot solely be responsible for escalating crime. It should be noted, and Marx (1974) is correct, that “many current theoretical approaches to deviance tend to neglect a crucial level of analysis: the specific interactive context within which rule breaking occurs”. In other words, not abstract group properties or norms, but interactive group processes readily become the primary sources of deviant behaviors.

Marx (1974) lists the three major sources of deviance which directly refer to interactive relationships within social groups: escalation, nonenforcement, and covert facilitation. In case of escalation, authorities are the direct contributors of deviant behaviors; and prosecutors who seek bribes or young criminals who are sent to jails for short term and have their sentences lengthened due to their deviant behaviors in prison become a part of this escalation process (Marx, 1974).

Nonenforcement implies a less direct contribution of authorities, and when criminals are given a chance to trade their crimes for information, the latter becomes the product and the protection from being punished for law violations. In its turn, covert facilitation is “deceptively creating opportunity or motives but without collusion” (Marx, 1974).

Surely, and Marx (1974) is absolutely correct, we cannot embrace the benefits of the theoretical knowledge of crime and deviance, if we neglect the role which social interaction may play in driving deviant behaviors. The systematic study of law and deviant behaviors does not take into account ironic deviant outcomes, or unintended consequences of the authorities’ involvement into controlling and suppressing the crime. It appears, that beyond the traditional limits of social control there is a whole set of hidden factors, which should be discovered and monitored, to ensure that we are able to timely address deception, paradox, and incongruities in the modern system of law.

References

Marx, G.T. (1974). Ironies of social control: Authorities as contributors to deviance through

escalation, nonenforcement, and covert facilitation. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved March 15, 2009 from http://web.mit.edu/gtmarx/www/ironies.html