Theories to Explain Social Deviance

    1.    Labeling Theory
Labeling is a process of social reaction by the "social audience," the people in society exposed to, judging and accordingly defining (labeling) someone's behavior as deviant or otherwise.
Labeling theory in the work of learnt (1951), Becker (1963), and Matza (1964), as well as other writers. It is mostly in the fields of criminology and the sociology of deviance that the theory has been developed. A basic proposition is that deviant behavior has the characteristics of a transaction between the deviant person and another or others. Particular behavior is deviant because it is defined as such by groups in society, particularly by those groups who have some power to establish that their definitions carry weight.
Labeling theory is a pretty simple theory that is based on social deviations which result in the labeling of the outsider. Becker defines deviance as being created by society. Social groups create deviance through the establishment of social rules, the breaking of these rules results in the perpetrator being labeled as a deviant.
Because of the objectivity involved it is needless to say that these labels are not always accurately applied to people. Once a label is given to an individual they become part of all the generalizations that go with that label. For example, some one who has been convicted of a crime might be seen as someone who has no respect for the law.  These labels also present a self fulfilling prophecy. Being identified as a deviant, a person is usually ostracized from conventional social groups, and therefore is forced to become part of less desirable ones. Being a member of less desirable social groups will only reinforce that they are a deviant, and increase their chances of engaging in deviant behaviors. “Deviance is not a quality of the act the person commits, but rather a consequence of the application by others of rules and sanctions to an ‘offender’. The deviant is one whom the label has successfully been applied: deviant behavior is behavior that people so label. (Baker, 1963)
  Labeling theorists do not like labels, but they say that labeling is a social fact, especially when we talk about social institutions like law enforcement, social service agencies, and mental health facilities. So therefore they study the power of labels in our society
Labeling Activity Affects Those Labeled in Various Ways
An individual does not become labeled as a deviant simply by breaking a rule, or even several rules. Many people break rules, but only some are subsequently labeled. The social process that follows the breaking of a rule may involve individuals in negotiating, rejecting, accepting, reinterpreting or modifying. A key assume for Lemert (1972) is whether primary deviation becomes secondary deviation.
  n  Edwin Lemert coined some important terms linked to the theory:

Ø  Primary deviance
 Behavior that does not conform to the social norms, but the behavior might be temporary, fleeting, exploratory, trivial, or especially, concealed from most others. The person who commits the deviant act does not see him/herself as deviant; put differently, it is not internalized as a part of the person's self concept .Primary deviance is a deviant act that provokes little reaction and has limited effect on a person’s self-esteem. The deviant does not change his or her behavior as a result of this act.
Ø  Secondary deviance
Behavior that does not conform to the social norms, but the behavior tends to be more sustained over time. The person continues to do the deviant behavior even after being caught and labeled by a social institution. The person accepts the deviant label, incorporating it into the person's self concept. Secondary deviance includes repeated deviant behavior that is brought on by other people’s negative reactions to the original act of primary deviance.

        2.    Control Theory
Control Theory in sociology can either be classified as centralized or decentralized or neither. Decentralized control is considered market control. Centralized control is considered bureaucratic control. Some types of control such as clan control are considered to be a mixture of both decentralized and centralized control.
Decentralized control or market control is typically maintained through factors such as price, competition, or market share. Centralized control such as bureaucratic control is typically maintained through administrative or hierarchical techniques such as creating standards or policies. An example of mixed control is clan control which has characteristics of both centralized and decentralized control. Mixed control or clan control is typically maintained by keeping a set of values and beliefs or norms and traditions.
    A functionalist like Merton, U.S. sociologist Travis Hirschi assumed that the family, school and other institutions can greatly contribute to social order by controlling deviant tendencies in all of us. If such control is lacking or weak, in Hirschi’s view , people will commit deviant act.
        According to Hirschi, the best control mechanism against deviance is our bond to others or by extension society. There are four types of social bond in control theory.
            1.      Attachment
       The first bond is attachment  to conventional people and institution.
Teenagers for example, may show this attachment by loving and respecting their parents, making friends with conventional peers, liking school or working hard to develop intellectual skills.
           2.      Commitment
        The second is commitment to conformity. This commitment can be seen in the time and energy devoted to conventional activities(  getting an Education, developing an occupational skill, improving professional status, building a business, or acquiring a reputation for virtue )
            3.         Involvement 
       The third is involvement in conventional activities. Following the maxim that “idleness is the devil’s workshop” , people keep themselves so busy doing conventional things that they do not have time to take part in deviant activities or even think about deviance.
          4.      Belief  
     The fourth belief in the moral validity of social rules. This is the conviction that the rules conventional society should be obeyed. People may show this moral belief by respecting the laws.
Many societies have support  Hirschi,s theory that the lack of social bond cause of deviance, but most of these studies have ignored , as be the effect of delinquency. Just as the loose of bond can cause the youth to commit delinquency, delinquency can cause the youth to lose their boned to society.

   3.    Conflict Theory

Conflict theory suggests that human behavior in social contexts results from conflicts between competing groups. The basic theory of deviance in social conflict centers around class warfare, in which the lower classes rebel against the upper classes who set the rules upon which society operates; laws are then generated to settle these conflicts. Any violation of these laws is seen as a deviant act. Conflict theory suggests that deviant behaviors result from social, political, or material inequalities of a social group. In response to these inequalities, certain groups will act deviantly in order to change their circumstances, change the social structure that engendered their circumstances, or just to “act out” against their oppressors.
Conflict theory argues that society is not best understood as a complex system striving  for equilibrium  but rather as a competition.

The following are three primary assumptions of modern conflict theory:
1.     Competition: 
Competition over scarce  resources (money, ) is at the heart of all social relationships. Competition rather than consensus is characteristic of human relationships.
2.     Structural inequality: 
Inequalities in power and reward are built into all social structures. Individuals and groups that benefit from any particular structure strive  to see it maintained.
3.     Revolution: 
Change occurs as a result of conflict between social class's competing interests rather than through adaptation. It is often abrupt and revolutionary rather than evolutionary.