What are the major Types of Explanation Given for Deviance?

Major types of explanation given for Deviance are:

Biological explanations.

Biological explanations have attempted to identify characteristics of people that predispose them to a life of crime. Lombroso regarded most criminals as biologically degenerate or defective. Sheldon postulated that body type was correlated with crime.

Psychological explanations.

Psychological explanations associate deviance with particular types of personality. It occurs due to psychological abnormality, mental illness or even frustration which leads to aggression. Psychological theories of deviance share certain similarities with biological theories. First, they see the deviant as different from the population as a whole. Second he is abnormal in a. normal population. Third, his abnormality predisposes him to deviance.

However, psychological theories differ in their claim that the deviant’s abnormality is learned rather than genetically determined. They see abnormal experience rather than abnormal genes as the basis for deviance. This experience produces ‘character defects and maladjusted personalities, which in turn produce deviance. Often psychological theories argue that some thing has gone wrong in the socialization process, usually in the mother-child relationship. This defective socialization’ involved emotional disturbance which leads to the formation of maladjusted personality traits. Early childhood experience, it is claimed, can have a lasting effect upon adolescent and adult behaviour.

John Bowlby claimed that those delinquents who were chronic recidivists, that is they constantly broke the law with little regard for the possible consequences, had suffered from maternal deprivation during their early years. They revealed psychopathic traits, had often been raised in institutions such as orphanages, and so been deprived of an intimate relationship with a mother figure.

Sociological explanations.

Sociological explanations saw inter connections between conformity and deviance in different social contexts. Social factors and context such as wealth, power, race, ethnicity and gender, all shape the definition of deviance.

Types of Deviants can be delineated.

  1. Freak: here deviance merely means variation from the average norm, in a statistical sense. These deviants are those people who simply drift into delinquent activities. They have no real commitment to delinquency and simply flirt with deviant behaviour. Here focus is on physical attributes and not so much on the behavioral pattern. There is a variation from the average norm in a statistical sense.
  2. Sinful: On the basis of religious doctrines, ideological codes, a person is adjudged sinful.
  3. Criminal: A person who defies or violates law is a criminal. Acts which are a threat to the social order or interfere with it are deviant actions which elicit legal enactments.
  4. Sick: Socially undesirable behaviour as a result of disease, abnormality is defined in the pathological framework. The society’s reaction changes from punitive to a treatment orientation.
  5. Alienated: People who are not in the mainstream to the society, who are estranged and isolated from the social norms and values are alienated.
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