Essay: Deviance Using Interactionist Perspective in Sociology

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¶ … Deviance

Using interactionist perspective in sociology, Degher and Hughes explain a four-step process that characterizes identity change. The first step is the "initial status" where an individual assumes oneself to be in a state of normal behavior. The second step is "recognizing" where, in response to external and internal cues (and the cues can be active or passive), an individual comes to assume that the present status is an inappropriate one. The third step is "placing" where the individual continues to respond to cues and find a new "place" which he or she considers appropriate among those available. And the fourth, "the final phase of the identity change process involves the internalization of a negative (deviant) definition of self" (Adler & Adler, 2012, pp. 260-5).

As the authors note, the model can be fruitfully applied to the study of other deviant behaviors. As an example, we can take homosexuality. Although in a perfect world it would be wrong to label homosexuals as "deviant," most societies in the world consider it to be. And the study by Farrell and Nelson (1976) confirmed the validity of the model offered by Degher and Hughes. Their research suggests that homosexuals tend to define their identities largely in response to external cues (to a lesser extent, by internal cues, as well) and eventually internalize the external stereotypical descriptions of themselves.

Degher and Hughes' model, however, should not be generalized, as many "deviants" may come to realize their status to be perfectly normal, as is the case with homosexuals in the Netherlands or within liberal communities in the United States.

Question 2 Answer 2

Conforming behavior refers to a type of conformity in which an individual conforms to the wishes of others. The individual acts in compliance with the accepted values set by family, peers, workplace, the state, popular culture, or a combination of these factors. For example, an adolescent who lives in a family where most family members smoke or is friends with peers most of whom smoke, is more likely to start smoking than an adolescent who lives and spends time with non-smokers. In both cases, the individuals follow accepted norms and conform to the wishes of those who surround them. Research now shows that, in addition to family and peers, media plays a powerful role in disseminating popular culture that adolescents find appealing and therefore conform to (Villanti, Boulay, & Juon, 2011).

Primary deviance refers to norm violations that provoke limited reaction and has little effect on individual's self-esteem. For instance, an adolescent who smokes is considered deviant by a larger society, but it has little effect on him or her if he or she smokes in the presence of peers who are also smokers. Primary deviance is usually a temporary period, often leading to secondary deviance.

Secondary deviance refers to acts that provoke condemnation or widespread disapproval, and "alters the individual's self-concept, and affects the performance of his/her social roles" (Adler & Adler, 2012, p. 285). If the aforementioned adolescent moves to a school where his/her peers do not smoke and disapprove of his/her smoking habit, the adolescent then internalizes the identity of a deviant behavior and perhaps goes into a seclusion and smokes even more as a responsive mechanism.

Question 3 Answer 3

As Robert Jenkot explains, methamphetamine producing groups are characterized by vertical hierarchy and are highly organized. They are generally divided into five hierarchical groups: Cooks at the top, followed by Gas Men/Juicers whose task is to get anhydrous ammonia, Shoppers who buy other required materials and get what the Cooks desire, Dope Hoes who are slightly above simple users and are there "to get laid" for meth or serve the sexual wishes of Cooks, and simple users who are there just to use meth but do nothing to help the production process.

These groups are highly organized and hierarchical because every activity and rank is related to production. Jenkot explains: "Status within these groups is related to the activity regarding the methamphetamine production process. The greater the involvement and/or risk with the production process, the higher the status" (Adler & Adler, 2012, pp. 416-7). If cocaine and other drugs are produced with chemicals imported from South America, methamphetamine is solely home-grown, which increases the importance of production and involvement in it. These groups therefore differ from others.

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