Sociological/Criminological Theorising – Deviance and Social Control

Philosophically, societal deviance can be classified as noise made up of a cacophony of decadent components breaking apart the concord of a healthy social order. This idea stands in contrast with social control which sees to orderliness and collective sanity. To gain control of a given society, it is imperative that the concerned authority try lessening the degree of disturbing activities occurring in the peripheral regions and sometimes, impinging into the core. The study of deviance is a substratum of sociology as an academic discipline.

It is basically a part of a range of interconnected offshoots including criminology, fashion studies, epistemology and so on. Criminology occupies an important position in the purview of social studies and deviance. In Criminology, the phenomenon of both individual as well as social crime is discussed at length. In addition to the theoretical domain of literature, empirical evidences often serve as proofs. The major area of investigation is concerned with not just various types of criminal activities, but also their likely causes and aftermaths. Therefore, this subgenre is grounded on behavioural sciences and legal studies.

Case studies and other quantitative evaluation modes are considered to be significant prerequisites for the analysis of criminologyC. This paper is going to focus on various issues that have either direct or indirect implications on the theoretical concept of criminology and social deviance. In the process, we are also going to discuss different schools of thought on the relevant literature. Before we attempt to get a clear picture of how the deviant individual tendencies collectively affect the normal social proceedings, we need to expand on the idea of inscrutable changes that frequently occur in the known world order.

Now from a sociological perspective, the world is a summation of relatively bigger social units or blocks which are built of smaller units such as individuals and communities. This hierarchical relation is quite significant for the sociologists and criminologists because it provides a scope to track down changes in parts rather than as a whole. Taking into consideration the faculty of observation plays a crucial role in the study of social deviance, and each individual in any social unit is less likely to behave in a manner consistent with that of others, it is nearly impossible to study social deviance qualitatively.

Hence, the experts have espoused a methodology which is based on putative sources of knowledge. This knowledge has been applied to functional areas that can be cross checked by empirical supports. However, a sociologist “will continually confront dilemmas about the selection of questions and methods” (Downes and Rock 2007: 21). Any faulty approach in the beginning is bound to give an erroneous data. The analyst has to judge what is to be looked into as the primary source and also the probable risks thereof. The most challenging task is to arrive at a formal and panoptic definition of deviance.

Albeit there are several schools of thought regarding the definition of this term, most sociologists unanimously agree that deviance should be defined as behavioural patterns that create hazards for the proper functioning of the society, thus drawing in legal punishments. But the most alluding part of such a definition is that many instances of deviant behaviour go completely unnoticed due to a number of reasons. It is a mammoth task for the administration to recognize people who indulge in activities that are by no means socially acceptable.

Apart from having harmful ethical implications, deviant pursuits of extreme nature also disturb the routine existence. So it is a sine qua non that the social control system must try to rectify the miscreants as much as possible in order to bring them into a healthy and normal course of life. But that is a far cry in most infrastructures around the world as not everyone can be put under surveillance. The very nature of deviance does not encourage itself being self-revealing. What it does on the contrary is keeping things under cover, making the task of identification immensely problematic and uncertain.

An analytical study of this subject shows that most deviants act stubbornly when caught or exposed. This is a serious social issue because a conjunctive approach from both ends (of the deviant and the administration) is the only plausible solution to ensure that things do not proliferate. The deceptive facade is a notoriously difficult proposition to deal with as it is normally made to look innocuous and unsuspecting. So we have discussed how criminal practices spread their roots deep down the spine of society.

Deviant criminal practices, especially in organizational setups, are almost impossible to locate since they can be disguised under various provisions and norms that are followed in a particular organization. Besides, most occupations in today’s world allow for illegal activities that can be kept undisclosed (Henry and Mars 1978). As pointed out by Ditton (1977), bread manufacturing farms tend to succumb to malpractices. Henry (1978) argues that deviance can be cleverly injected into ordinary contexts which do not call for special investigation.

Public places and clubs, which are generally not inspected, can be used as stealthy base for the storage of illegal commodities. As a matter of fact, many drug peddlers tend to choose such places to avert the watchful eyes of various law enforcing agencies. Moreover, using public houses for unlawful purposes also runs the mortal risk of hostage crisis should any confrontation be provoked. The wine and alcohol industry too is corrupted heavily as officials chairing high ranks are used to taking bribes (Denzin 1978).

Likewise, the automobile sector in the United States of America is a breeding ground for subversion and numerous other forms of deviance (Farberman 1975). The question that logically occurs involves the identity of people practicing the illegal activities mentioned above. While it is clear that the criminals belong very much to the normal social strata, the thing which remains to be discussed is the reason behind their subcultural escapades. When we talk about an organizational setup, it is the institutionalized factors that seem to give the impression to the perpetrators that they have been chained by those who are at the helm of affairs.

It is related with the conflict theory of deviance in which the hegemony of power acts as a direct source of dissent for individuals or groups belonging to subservient levels. Since social norms are set by institutions and those norms can be altered or expelled as per the wish of the men in power, the deviant individual starts questioning the jurisdiction of authority. But the conflict theory of deviance does not provide any rationale for crimes that have nothing to do with insecurity complexes or lack of financial or social privileges.

The role of the legal system is also a matter of great dispute because laws are seen as tools of subjugation for both the powerful and the powerless, with the exception that the powerful is brought under mitigation whereas the powerless is not. Additionally, criminals like to have a psychological edge over others by breaking the established rules. In any case, the fear of exposure does not prevent them because there is little to lose. A psychiatric study into the criminal psychology helps providing the necessary leads that justify the formulation of anti-social groups of people who do not behave uncontrollably under normal circumstances.

The principle school of thought that emerges in this context is the theory of ‘sacred transgressions’ (Pfohl 1994: 19-58). It is quite evident from the understanding of Judaic-Christian purview that the inclination to commit sin is deeply seated in human psyche. Therefore, the younger section of the society is given more to nonconformity as an effort to create an alternate system of ‘rational hedonism’ (Pfohl 1994: 61-99). Guided by impulses and epicurean senses, the younger generation often fails to differentiate between the multifarious extents of deviant ways.

Resultantly, a criminal mindset develops for majority of this lost coeval. The next scholarly argument in the context of deviance is concerned with expectation. It might be noted, however, that the epistemological concept of expectation covers a broader field than what the deviant context of the same addresses. What is generally observed in criminology is that a gang of accomplices expects a kind of sameness in action and motivation from one another. The primary components of social control, i. e. , obedience and conformity, are the only means to encounter such menace.

Failure in doing so is likely to result in partial or complete break down of institutionalised authority, thereby aggravating the problem furthermore. Since sudden and unexpected acts of defiance are born of cultural disharmonies, it is imperative that similar disputes are resolved in the beginning (Keel 2009). This argument is also interlinked with the phenomena of individual and social bonding. When an individual is connected to a group, he or she is emotionally tied to it. Hence, it is unlikely that the person would go astray. The positive coefficients of a societal bondage include commitment, belief, attachment and involvement.

Quite naturally, adherence to these elements promises personal gain and diminishes the chance of damage or derogation. A pathological approach may also be of much assistance in piecing together different aspects of deviance and criminology. The basic eugenic ideas include essentialism and determinism. The deviant mentality always sieves the essentials and discards what it perceives as non-essentials. This self-serving cognitive process is radically deterministic too in the sense that the response time does not take any longer than what is biologically possible.

The individualistic acumen of moral judgment or subjective interpretation is replaced by the theory of objective reality. This is why a clear distinction between normal and deviant behaviours was made by Franz Gall in the late 18th century. His hypothesis was grounded on the theoretical aspects of human brain evolution and the connecting observation framework. It regarded openness and acquisitiveness as normative constructs, whereas covertness and selflessness made their way into deviant behavioural patterns. However, Gall did not give any categorical insight into sexual aberration (Keel 2008).

The prescriptive structure of gender and sexuality is of utmost relevance in the study of behaviours that do not comply with social requirements. Numerous feminist models have been projected from time to time, each focusing on women’s involvement in crime and its causes. The theoretical assumptions have been drawn largely from gender studies and sexuality. But considering the rapidly evolving diaspora of the topic at hand, it would be unfulfilling and rather unfair to stick to any particular school of thought.

The earlier take on crime has changed a great deal in today’s world of advanced pathological and behavioural progresses. From medical perspectives, crime is no longer considered to be an aberration (Newburn 2007:303). Hence, a comprehensive methodology or set of methodologies can be espoused for the overall benefit of the study. Any kind of sexual fetish is perfectly normal by the standards of pathology even though some of them may be really weird by social yardsticks. BDSM, for example, carries a strong overture of abnormality with regards to sexual preferences.

The sadomasochistic elements in BDSM make it a volatile yet expressive form of sexual interaction. The recent terrorist attack in the Indian city Mumbai is a perfect example of the indescribable horror of innocent mass killing. Now what provoked the attack or who was the mastermind is not the subject of our discussion. We would rather like to look into the probable sociological reasons and aftermaths of the strike. To begin with, all the ten terrorists did not have any fear of death. The concept of complete alienation as a determining factor behind social deviance is manifested at its best in this case.

Moreover, all the culprits supposedly held a strong and unyielding sense of antipathy to the workings of society in general and a contemptuous disregard for authority in particular. Lack of remorse or guilt, which is a chief psychopathic constituent, is also exhibited in their actions. The theory of subculturism is also justified in the context as terrorists regardless of cast or creed belong to a split section of the society with no meaningful or healthy interaction with the rest (Mythen and Walklate 2006). To sum it up, the thesis question is to be analysed primarily by quantitative methodologies and then on evidential grounds.

To make case-specific social policies and mandates, it is important that a thorough investigation is made into each and every act of deviance in order to find its cause. A scientific approach is also required to give direction to the study, and to negate practical as well political hindrances. Lastly, the controlling devices must be implemented in an executable manner so that they can be called upon for immediate actions and retained to serve a long-term purpose. List of References Downes, M. , and Rock, P. E. (2007) 5th edn. Understanding deviance: a guide to the sociology of crime and rule-breaking.

Oxford: Oxford University Press Henry, S. , and Mars, G. (1978) ‘Crime at Work. ’ Sociology 12, (2) Ditton, J. (1977) Part-time crime: an ethnography of fiddling and pilferage. London: Macmillan Henry, S. (1978) The Hidden Economy: The Context and Control of Borderline Crime. Los Gatos: Robertson Denzin, N. (1978) ed. by Denzin, N. ‘Crime and the American Liquor Industry. ’ Studies in Symbolic Interaction, Greenwich, Connecticut: Jai Press Inc. Farberman, H. (1975) ‘A Criminogenic Market Structure: The Automobile Industry,’ The Sociological Quarterly, 16 Pfohl, S. (1994) 2nd edn.

Images of Deviance and Social Control: a sociological history. New York: McGraw-Hill Keel, R. O. (2009) Deviance and Control [online] available from <http://www. umsl. edu/~keelr/010/deviance. html> [13 May 2009] Keel, R. O. (2008) Biological and Psychological Theories of Deviance [online] available from <http://www. umsl. edu/~keelr/200/biotheor. html> [13 May 2009] Newburn, T. (2007) Criminology. Devon: Willian Publishing Mythen, W. , and Walklate, S. (2006) ‘Criminology and Terrorism: Which Thesis? Risk Society or Governmentality? ’ The British Journal of Criminology 46, (3) 379-398