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Deviance, Crime and Social Control

Table of Contents

Selected Topic

The selected topic from the class text is “Deviance, Crime, and Social Control”. The term deviance “refers to the violations of established contextual, cultural, or social norms” (Zembroski, 2011, p. 241). Crimes occur when someone breaks existing laws and social norms. This analysis shows clearly that all crimes are deviances in one way or the other (Zembroski, 2011). Such deviances range from small offenses to big ones such as murder. Conflict crimes tend to occur when certain acts are not clearly defined in a given society. Extreme deviant behaviors can attract legal actions. Social control, on the other hand, focuses on the political and societal mechanisms implemented to regulate the behaviors of individuals in a specific society. This goal is achieved through the use of adequate legal frameworks. These measures are implemented in order to promote compliance.

Summary of Selected Reading

The chapter “Social Control” begins by indicating that crime remains a critical issue for many policymakers and governments. Since crimes occur in every society, social controls are “implemented to prevent deviant behavior” (Schaefer, 2016b, p. 152). Social control is also applied in institutions, schools, and companies in order to influence norms. The article presents the Milgram Experiment to explain how conformity emerges among peers. The chapter treats obedience as the ability to comply with various authorities in the society. Social controls can either be informal or formal. Some of the informal controls include ridicules or smiles. On the other hand, formal controls might include things like laws and legal frameworks.

The chapter goes further to describe the nature of deviance. This term refers to any form of behavior known to violate the existing norms or social standards. In the United States, deviant behaviors include gambling and alcohol consumption. Cultural transmission can occur and influence people’s behaviors in the society. Social theorists analyze deviance using conflict, labeling, and feminist perspectives. The article indicates that “crime is any violation of criminal law for which some governmental authority applies formal penalties” (Schaefer, 2016b, p. 166). Crime can either be professional, street, or white-collar. That being the case, societies should use sustainable policies and social frameworks to deal with various deviant behaviors.

Selected Theoretical Perspective

The selected theoretical perspective is the conflict theory. This perspective “assumes that social behavior is understood in terms of tensions between groups over power or the allocation of resources” (Schaefer, 2016a, p. 14). The theory goes further to indicate that any form of tension might not necessarily be violent. The theory has therefore widely used by scholars to analyze various social and societal behaviors. According to conflict theorists, various institutions such as education, government, and mass media play critical roles towards supporting the privileges of specific groups. These theorists believe that redistribution of resources and opportunities can address various conflicts in a society.

The conflict perspective goes further to indicate that “people in societies are shaped by power, coercion, and authority” (Schaefer, 2016a, p. 16). The use of laws can reshape the behaviors of more people in the society. The theory also asserts that changes are unavoidable in the society and will always produce diverse consequences. The existence of inequality results in stratification. As different classes struggle for scarce resources, new tensions that might affect the lives of more citizens emerge.

Applying the Perspective to the Above Topic

Crime and deviance are critical attributes of every society. Crimes are committed by both the poor and the rich. The conflict theory indicates that the existence of inequality dictates the formulated criminal justice systems (CJSs) and laws in different societies (Zembroski, 2011). The rich implement unique laws that support their needs. Additionally, the CJS punishes the targeted social groups differently. The rich hire competent lawyers even after committing heinous crimes. The poor commit crimes in an attempt to address the existing inequality. Unfortunately, the poor are affected the most by the CJS. The working classes, according to Karl Marx’s views, have higher chances of committing different offenses such as murder and street crime (Schaefer, 2016a). Similarly, the elites in the society engage in nonviolent or white-collar crimes (Zembroski, 2011).

From this analysis, it becomes clear that inequality in the society has the potential to catalyze deviance and crime. These behaviors and inequalities can result in social control. This is the case because the elite design desirable legal frameworks that can support their needs while at the same time oppressing the poor in the society (Zembroski, 2011). This analysis shows conclusively that the conflict perspective can be used to explain the nature and origin of crime in the society. Deviance emerges when specific members of the society stand up against the existing inequalities and injustices. The minorities and less affluent groups will have increased chances of engaging in street crimes. That being the case, the conflict perspective is a powerful framework that supports the contents of the above topic. Equal distribution of scarce resources and use of fair criminal systems can play a positive role towards addressing these gaps.


Schaefer, R. (2016a). Major theoretical perspectives. In. R. Schaefer (Ed.), Sociology in Modules (pp. 13-16). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Schaefer, R. (2016b). Social control. In. R. Schaefer (Ed.), Sociology in Modules (pp. 13-16). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Zembroski, D. (2011). Sociological theories of crime and delinquency. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 21(1), 240-254.

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