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Posted: December 7th, 2022
Since the beginning of the quarter, my perspective on deviance has shifted dramatically. According to the course textbook, deviation is “behavior, characteristic, or belief that deviates from a norm and causes a negative reaction in a specific group.” From a sociological standpoint, it is viewed as an impersonal assessment rather than a moral one. Throughout my life, I’ve seen a variety of deviations that are now accepted as normal. Since I was a child not long ago, I can personally attest to Emile Durkheim’s observation that today’s anomaly is tomorrow’s norm (Weinberg & Williams, 2015). Deviant behavior includes sexual orientation and gender identity. Homosexuality was still viewed with suspicion and hostility when I was younger.
It is now widely accepted due to its widespread prevalence. There has been a significant increase in tolerance for sexual orientation. Discussions about sexual orientation have recently become more common, particularly in educational settings. Deviant behavior is defined as any behavior that deviates from accepted norms. Though the term has a negative connotation, we have all acted in ways that could be considered deviant at some point. Along with murder, the textbook lists speeding as an abnormal behavior. Nobody wants to be associated with someone who killed someone because they were going 11 miles per hour over the speed limit. Deviant behavior encompasses a wide range of actions. Although soccer streamers are admired by their peers, polygamy is tolerated in the Mormon community, and the Christian faith is considered deviant by a pagan (Sternheimer, 12).
The general public may perceive all three as engaging in deviant behavior. The debate over the Middle East war exemplifies the concept of deviation. In other words, deviance is regarded as a serious problem in today’s society as a violation of social norms. Conduct norms within a culture. This is an example of social control in action, in which society influences individuals by imposing limits on their behavior and rewarding or punishing those who violate those limits (Weinberg & Williams, 2015). Crimes and the criminal justice system are now displaying signs of deviance and social control. To restore social order, the criminal justice system regulates and punishes criminal behavior. However, not all egregious behavior can be prosecuted in a court of law. Some of it stems from a disregard for societal norms, which may result in ridicule, shame, or rumors.
The United States of America has the world’s highest drinking age of 21 years old, while many other countries have a minimum age of zero or sixteen years old. The goal is to reduce alcohol misuse in general, but if young people in the United States continue to drink frequently, it’s difficult to tell if that’s happening. Of the 10.4 million American adults aged 12 to 20 who reported drinking in the previous month, 6.8 million were labeled as “binge drinkers,” having five or more drinks in one sitting, and 2.1 million as “heavy drinkers,” having five or more drinks in one sitting on at least five separate days (Sternheimer, 12). The Rampart crisis has a surreal quality in contemporary American culture, given the magnitude of the internal corruption and the large number of officers implicated. However, if we returned to New York in the 1850s, we would discover nothing but scandal and cruelty at the highest levels of government and the police force.
According to legend, a small group of corrupt officers known as “meat-eaters” set the tone for the rest of the force by actively seeking out situations in which they can profit financially. Then there’s the rotten apple theory, which contends that some corrupt officers were hired despite the force’s lax hiring practices. The final theory to consider is the environmentalist viewpoint, which holds that citywide political corruption always leads to police corruption. The normative foundation for the laws, regulations, and practices of many institutions and communities (Weinberg & Williams, 2015). To regulate deviant behavior, entities ranging in size from nations to corporations develop policies and, in some cases, laws. Many criminal justice agencies’ veterans adhere to a code of ethics or set of conduct rules. Corruption is a term that refers to deviance, also known as graft. For personal gain, public servants who engage in this activity violate the organization’s norms (i.e., regulations and rules). This category of dishonest behavior includes theft, embezzlement, smuggling, and contraband. Police deviance occurs when officers act in ways that contradict their training, departmental policies, or the law.
Eavesdropping on citizens without a warrant, bias in arrests, use of excessive force, and even corruption are all examples of police misconduct. Sports misconduct is not a new issue; rather, it has been portrayed and, in some cases, exaggerated to the point where it serves as an example of common problems in the professional sports industry. The competitive culture of those who participate in and watch sports is frequently cited as the root cause of wrongdoing in the athletic world. The Chicago Black Sox were involved in a World Series fixing scandal in which players were allegedly bribed to throw the series. Players could make more money gambling at the time than they could working a regular job for a year. Deviance has many causes, which have evolved over time, but it ultimately stems from who a person is at their core. Athletics is more concerned with sports deviation than other sports. Most athletes are viewed as role models, and their incredible achievements are used to inspire young people to strive to be like them. As a result, athletes have been under constant pressure to keep their winning streak going. When an athlete recognizes his social standing, he may develop arrogance and pride, and believe he is above the law. Former athletes who are placed in charge of a team as a manager or coach may exaggerate their achievements and engage in questionable behavior.
Deviance in the News ESSAY 2
The media continues to play an important role in modern society when it comes to crime and deviance. Since deviance has remained a universal problem, the media has remained the dominant force in defining the nature of deviance within societal boundaries. Individuals and community members are constantly bombarded with messages from a variety of sources, including but not limited to television, billboards, magazines, and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to name a few. The contents of these messages not only promote the products or services being offered, but also foster individuals’ attitudes and moods and create a sense of what the audience should consider necessary. The presence of mass media has materialized the concept of celebrity, in which one becomes famous by amassing a large fan base across various social media platforms. Using these platforms, however, has elicited diverse perspectives of deviance within society, as will be elaborated in this paper regarding social structural approaches, critical perspectives, and crime versus deviance.
Through social structural approaches to music, the news media can shape people’s understanding of and reactions to deviance. Because music is created through people’s social interactions, it has been found to significantly influence how people understand deviance. Musicians, for example, could effectively serve as folk devils by creating music with sexually explicit lyrics, thus diverting children away from the desired ethical way of life (Sternheimer, 2014). Rock and roll music had succeeded in breaking down the racial barriers that had been instilled in American youth during the 1950s. This was a positive step because young white citizens began to enjoy music created by African Americans. When white teenagers became interested in the songs African Americans sang, journalist John Jackson sensed the start of a new problem.
Indeed, John Jackson’s point of view was validated when it was established that rock and roll music inspired listeners to commit violent acts. Rock incidents were blamed on the artists of these songs, who were fond of inciting skirmishes through carefully crafted lyrics (Sternheimer, 2014). It was demonstrated that when rock and roll artists took the stage to perform, the audience stood up, danced, screamed, and refused to sit quietly and listen to the music. These events escalated into riots, which were widely reported in the media, giving the public a negative impression of the genre. This compelled media outlets to coin headlines associating songs of the genre or Rock and roll with inciting riots in the audience. Some of the well-known headlines created by media outlets included, but were not limited to, “Rock and Riot,” “Indictment sought in ‘Rock’ Riot,” and “Teen-Agers Turn Show Into Rock, Roll Riot.”
People’s perceptions were also shaped by the media’s reporting that African Americans used Rock and Roll concerts to settle their scores with White Americans. A series of examples explained in the class materials included in Pop Culture Panics convinced Americans that African Americans were only violent to white people (Sternheimer, 2014). For example, when two Connecticut teenagers were injured at a concert, the Hartford Courant published a story alleging that these two teenagers, along with three others from Waterbury, were attacked by 15 or 20 young black men. In another case, the New York Times reported in 1957 that knife fights erupted among rock and roll fans immediately after they exited the auditorium. As a result, American media outlets asserted that white Americans were more likely to be victims of African American violence.
From a critical standpoint, the news media shapes people’s perceptions of deviance by spreading the heteronormative paradigm. Heteronormative ideology promotes heterosexuality as the sole mode of sexual orientation. It is presupposed that gender is binary and that marital relationships are best suited to people of the opposite sex. The increased accessibility of the news media, on the other hand, has weakened the heteronormativity perspective (Weinberg & Williams, 2015). For example, as the number of same-sex marriages grows, society is embracing lesbianism and gays.
Furthermore, as promoted by media outlets, there is a fine line between deviance and conformity. For example, there are widespread changes in premarital sex, with fewer people practicing traditional marriage, the age at which one can marry being extended, and an increase in the number of young people seeking some form of sexual relationship. While these acts were considered deviant by previous generations, they have gradually become the new normal.
A new relationship pattern among the audience known as hooking up is another way that the news media has shaped people’s understanding and reactions to deviance. Hookups are more common in today’s audience. A hookup is a process in which people hang out at a bar, party, or residential building, meet a partner, and then go to a more private location to engage in sex-related activities ranging from kissing to sexual intercourse (Weinberg & Williams, 2015). Hookups occur frequently between people who know each other, and neither party is entitled to any commitment. Despite their popularity, hookups are not always free of deviant attributions, particularly for women, who frequently fall victim to the traditional double standard. Women who engage in hookups are frequently labeled sluts as a result of the traditional double standard (Weinberg & Williams, 2015). Because of the increased acceptance of this type of deviance in hooking up, many women pursuing college degrees have stated that they prefer hookups to committed relationships.
The news media, which witnessed the sexual revolution, was a major driver of the sexualization culture. During this revolution, people came out to speak openly about sex through sex talks, sexual displays, and presentations (Weinberg & Williams, 2015). Pornification has resulted from the increased availability of sexual content in the media, in which sexual representations are more pervasive, accessible, and explicit. This transition compelled many authors to come out strongly against it by publishing a report titled Sexualization of Girls (Weinberg & Williams, 2015). The authors of this article argued that young girls’ self-worth was primarily tied to their sexiness, which frequently escalated to sexual objectification. As a result, these changes have put the deviance theory to the test, because sexual transgression within current ethical standards is becoming a more accepted and permissible value.
To summarize, the news media has taken center stage in shaping how people perceive deviance. Music served the purpose of educating, warning, and entertaining people in traditional society. However, as media outlets expand, rock and roll artists are using their music to incite people to engage in violence. Many violent incidents reported within American borders following a concert have been closely linked to the Rock and Roll song genre. Because many victims of such skirmishes were white teens, some scholars asserted that African Americans used these songs to settle their scores with white teens. Finally, the news media has increased the number of hookups and sparked a sexual revolution in which people can openly discuss sexual matters and display sexual tapes.
Analytical Essay 1: Deviance: I am Sam
Deviance is defined as behavior that contradicts social norms such as laws and unspoken social rules. There are numerous deviant films, but I am focusing on I Am Sam, which was released in 2001. Sam is mentally challenged and works at a Starbucks. He took in a homeless woman by chance and had a daughter with her. However, the mother left without saying anything as soon as her daughter was born. Lucy is the name Sam gave to his daughter. Sam raised her daughter alone, with the help of a group of friends suffering from mental disorders, though there were always some minor blunders. Sam and Lucy’s unusual relationship drew the attention of social workers, who believed Sam was unfit to raise Lucy. They eventually took Lucy away from him and found her adoptive parents. After years of litigation, Sam was able to persuade the court, and Lucy was finally able to live with Sam again. In this essay, I will examine how society shapes people like Sam as deviants and why the social environment is structured in this manner. Finally, I will discuss how societal stereotypes affect deviant people.
The film depicts society’s reaction to Sam’s disability and how Sam is deviant. Cultural perceptions distinguish between deviance and glorifying incapacitated/deviant people. People who behave abnormally or deviantly are frequently perceived as being different from the rest of society due to their impairments. “Behavior or characteristics that some people in a society find offensive or reprehensible and that generates or would generate if discovered in these people disapproval, punishment, condemnation of, or hostility toward the actor or possessor,” according to Goode (Goode, 29). People who engage in deviant behavior may be portrayed negatively as a burden on society. They can also be portrayed positively as heroes in the film I Am Sam. It is shown with both positive and negative concepts. “The constructionist viewpoint considers who stands to gain from labeling an individual, group, or behavior as deviant” (Sternheimer, 12). In I Am Sam, society holds the relativist view that Sam’s deviant behavior has no intrinsic characteristics; however, because Lucy’s intelligence has surpassed Sam’s ability, society has labeled the deviant behavior “harmful.” “Moral crusades are ultimately about a search for social order in changing times and the ongoing need to create outsiders to redefine what it means to be an insider,” writes Sternheimer (Sternheimer, 20). The deviant characteristics arise from the moral standards of people’s minds, not from their behavior.
We are all taught that deviance violates a norm, but certain groups of people or societies can create the norm. This is a rather narrow definition. In the film I Am Sam, he is portrayed as a deviant rather than a criminal. People tend to judge him based on his intelligence because of his disability, and he is unable to care for his normal daughter. When Sam goes to Rita’s (the pro bono lawyer who assisted Sam in fighting this case) law firm for assistance, Rita describes Sam as “I just don’t know what to call you: retarded, mentally retarded, mentally handicapped, mentally disabled, intellectually handicapped, intellectually disabled, developmentally disabled” (Nelson, I am Sam). People in society, such as Rita, the social worker, and government agencies, regard Sam’s disability as deviant behavior. As portrayed by society, Sam’s attitudes are rooted in pedagogical structures centered on deviance. In other words, problems are created not by disability or deviance, but by the society and environment in which deviance or disability is placed. As a result, if Sam cannot change himself to become a normal person or correct the impairment, he is not the immediate problem in society. Instead, Sam’s social status is determined by society’s interaction with him.
The social norms can be interpreted as a more progressive, modern perspective on deviance. Stereotypes are formed as a result of cultural institutions and perceptions. The stereotype of deviant people as freakish monsters stems from an unsympathetic society that is built to limit deviance. “Moral panic develops during difficult times when a serious threat to society’s interests or values is perceived” (Goode, 14). The “threat” is more of a morally unacceptable societal factor than a potentially dangerous situation. Sam is unable to participate in mainstream activities due to society’s lack of compassion. “I think you should sound like a normal person… from the heart!” one of Sam’s friends says in the film. “From… the… soul!” (Hello, my name is Sam.) As a result, the actual presence of the impairment did not deviate Sam; rather, society and people’s perception of him did. Sam is portrayed with positive stereotypes and deviance. In terms of civil rights positioning, the symbolism of the disabled as hero and deviant protagonist affects the barriers. When our society accepts the various barriers that lead to disability or deviance, it finds ways to succeed. The concept also implies that allowing deviant people to participate in society will benefit society from their ability or care.
Finally, the film depicted the main character Sam as deviant but not criminal. Society also shaped him as an outcast who does not belong. Certain stereotypes and labels were applied to Sam, portraying him as a deviant/disabled person. In I Am Sam, society also depicts how people perceive bias. Even the knowledgeable lawyer was initially prejudiced against Sam. Finally, the film attempts to persuade the audience to have less deviance in society and to treat people like Sam normally. The film also attempts to convey Sam’s ordinary way of viewing the world.
Erich Goode. Deviant Behavior, 5th ed., Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 1997. 7th ed., 2005.
J. Nelson My name is Sam. (2001). The United States retrieved in 2001
J. Nelson (n.d.). My name is Sam. IMDb. Retrieved from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0277027/characters/nm0000576 on October 21, 2022.
K. Sternheimer (2014). Pop culture panics: How moral crusaders define deviance and delinquency. Routledge.
K. Sternheimer (2015). Pop culture panics: How moral crusaders define deviance and delinquency. Taylor & Francis Group, Routledge
M. S. Weinberg and C. J. Williams (2015). Sexual deviance and sociology 369-400 in the Handbook of Deviance.
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