Sociology Research Paper on Deviance

“The approval of a certain behaviors depends on the societal culture, which essentially gives approval, or otherwise, to certain behavior. Consequently, it is obligatory to delineate deviance as behavior that violates some of the social norms, including some of the rules that follow formal enactments. To consider a behavior as a deviant behavior, it is necessary to take into account the societal norms. Newman (2011) categorizes deviant behavior as deeds that assault the morals and norms of the society, of which the society must not endorse (Newman, 2011). Some of the behaviors that society does not approve of are crime related, which are not necessarily deviant, but do not conform to the norms of society. Some of the deviant behaviors are manipulative in nature, others elicit mistrust between the people that interact and others are devious, but not criminal.


In relation to the United States’ society, it is possible to consider behavior like suicide, abortion, bystander apathy, wearing clothes meant for the opposite sex or picking your nose then wiping the nasal mucus on the wall as deviant. These behaviors are considered deviant since they do not conform to the expectation of the American society. When society considers the behavior of an individual as deviant, the consideration traps the person through some condemnations or labels the society attaches to them. In order to have an adequate understanding of deviance, the paper will focus on the behavior of nose picking, then wiping the nasal mucus on the wall. The paper will analyze some of the elements of the behavior in relation to labeling theory, while taking a constructionist approach in the analysis.

Nose picking is not a strange habit to the society since quite a number of people engage in it. However, when an individual goes to the extent of wiping the nasal mucus on the walls of a building, which might be a public utility building, then this behavior is a deviation from the expectations of the society. This behavior might offend some of the people witnessing the act, which is also an unhygienic behavior. The offended might act by condemning the behavior since it does not conform to their expectation. According to the expectation of the society, an individual should be able to use a handkerchief to pick the nose, which is the culturally acceptable and hygienic behavior that is recognizable in the American society.

Violations of some of the societal norms are punishable legally, with some of the institutions involved including correctional institutions, the judiciary and the police (Goode, 2011). However, the involvement of such institutions is applicable when the behavior is criminal in nature. For the behavior in focus, correcting the offender might be possible through condemning the act verbally, which is a consideration that seeks to prevent the continuity of the behavior. The absence of societal laws that prevent this behavior is likely to subject the society at a state of disarray, which means that deviating from the norms of the society by participating in such an act might affect the population negatively. This gives an impression that the societal culture does not approve of this behavior, thereby considering it as deviant behavior.

With the consideration that the analysis of the paper takes the constructionist approach, it is vital to take into account the three assumptions of the approach. The assumptions include relativism, subjectivism and voluntarism. The relativist view of the constructionist approach holds that the deviant behavior does not exhibit intrinsic characteristics, unless there are thoughts that these characteristics exist (Goode, 2011). Consequently, when an individual picks his or her nose, then wipes the nasal mucus on the wall, the behavior is not inherent in the individual. This means that the individual’s action might appear deviant since other people refer to it as such. For this reason, people against such a behavior will assign a label to it, which discourages others from engaging in such behavior.

On the other hand, voluntarism holds that when a person engages in deviant behavior, he or she does so willingly. This assumption takes recognition of the fact that factors that might influence the individual to act in defiance to the societal norms are neither from the internal nor external environment. It is through the will of the individual that he or she will behave in such a manner. Consequently, subjectivism portrays the action as subjective in nature. The aim of subjectivism is to have an understanding of the personal view of the deviant in order to have the knowledge of how they see the world (Goode, 2011). When the deviant picks his or her nose and wipes the mucus on the walls, it is necessary to have an understanding of how they view the action through getting their personal view on the act. This might give some information on their perception of the same.

When relating the behavior in focus to labeling theory, it is necessary to consider the fact that this behavior is applicable as a deviant behavior only when the society labels it as deviant. The members of the society responsible for interpreting specified behaviors in the society as deviant attach the label to the corresponding individuals to determine the feature between deviance and non-deviance. In this case, the labeled person is the one who engages in the deviant behavior. Social research has relative indications that the individuals with negative labels on regular occasions have exposure to lower self-image and may reject themselves because of the label. Giving a label to such behavior is one way of ensuring the continuity of the societal culture, which is vital for curbing any form of divergence to the societal norms.

The aspect of sociology focuses on the perspective of societal cause and effects of deviance. Labeling theory is applicable in delineating the causes of such behavior with a process by which both formal and informal labels affect behavior over time through self-concept (Browning, 2008). The theory suggests that the imposition of deviant behavior emanates from social group constructs, which define the norms and values that guide behavior. From the assumptions of the theory, it is possible to label people who violate the norms as outsiders. The labeling of an individual as a deviant is possible only if there is a reaction from the society that negates the behavior (Browning, 2008)…”

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