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Example research essay topic: Deviant Behavior Labeling Theory - 730 words

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Deviance is usually one of the most popular topics in the sociology. It is also one of the most misinterpreted. Many questions arise when we begin examining deviance. How can one ultimately judge if another person or his behavior is deviant? Is there some clear trait of the character that can point us a deviant individual? There are three types of researches that have tried to answer these questions.

There are psychological answers, biological answers, and the sociological answers. With all of the studies that have been performed, no group has come up with an exact explanation as to what should be considered a deviant behavior. Nevertheless, there is one common criterion for the deviant behavior, which does not take any researches or experiments to understand. According to that generally accepted cultural principle a person would be considered to be acting defiantly in society if he is violating some significant social norm of that particular culture. Upon deeper investigation of the above principle I understood that it has many controversies in its essence. Many cultures have there own views on the normal behavior while others would say that it is definitely deviant.

For example, in Bulgaria the non-verbal sign of disagreement is nodding your head, while the most of the world does exactly the opposite. Can we possibly say that Bulgarians are deviant? Yes, there is something strange in their behavior to us (Americans) but it is only our cultural differences. When we speak of the deviance, every individual can have a different definition of what deviance is and what it stands for.

One of the views has the meaning that it ultimately may have nothing to do with what is inside the person and everything with what the outside world says about that person. Some sociologists even say that "deviant" is a label applied by the powerful on the powerless. Indeed, lets see how many labels do we encounter each day, which recommend us to be normal, not deviant (i. e. Men dont cry, Women dont walk around topless, etc. ). All these social control labels used by government, church, corporations, and others are often a very brutal intrusion into our individual way of thinking and living.

I belive that truly deviant behavior is that, which negatively affects either a particular individual or society as a whole. Such a behavior or acts are usually equally unacceptable by any worlds culture. The examples are simple: murder, rape, theft, and many others, which are usually registered in the criminal code of any particular country. When we talk about deviance as the consequence of the behavior, which cannot be classified as criminal or offensive to the society, we must, first of all, determine what background does the party, which determines deviance, has. Numerous sociological studies show that sex, social background, marital status, age, level of income, and race affect the persons views on deviant behavior, and at the same time cause that same person to act defiantly. Therefore, I can surely say that the ability to distinguish deviant behavior is more a learned thing, which depends on many factors, than some sort of universal knowledge that is hidden within us.

Deviant behavior has one important feature that cannot be neglected when dealing with it. Once we attach a label of deviance to some sort of action or even any particular individual, we must understand that it is very hard to get rid of it later on. Once a person is labeled deviant they continue to respond to society as if they are. This aspect of deviance is called the Labeling Theory. The response and label from other individuals in society, such as peers, are how the individuals view themselves. When a person does a deviant act they are then labeled by society and separated from the "normal people.

These people are then classified as "outsiders", and associate themselves with other people who have been cast out of society. When more and more people think of these people as deviant they think they are too. The Labeling Theory says that once they feel this way they will continue to behave in the way society now expects them to. Understanding this gives us a guideline on how seriously the concept of deviance should be handled. It is very important to be able to define the truly deviant behavior from persons individuality or cultural difference.


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Research essay sample on Deviant Behavior Labeling Theory

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