Crime and Deviance from a sociological perspective

Topic : Crime and Deviance from a sociological perspective 

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Society is compared to a machine which has many parts that are interdependent. When one of those parts is missing the machine will experience problems and may not function well. Society is made up of social institutions that are supposed to be compatible otherwise there will be a rise of conflicts leading to social disorder and disharmony. The following discussion focuses on the social perspectives and an explanation for the causes of crime and how it can be reduced.


Social perspectives are set of statements or theories that have been formulated by renowned theorists with an aim of explaining the social phenomena (Earl 2003). Society is so complex and so are the social issues that need to be analyzed to come up with solutions. The social perspectives serve as tools that explain the social phenomena, for instance it may explain the reason why the suicide rates are higher among the Protestants than the Catholics. Apart from that the social perspective also seeks to predict what is likely to happen if certain social disorders are not dealt with.

Social perspectives are scientific ways of explaining the society since they have been tested. They seek to maintain the harmony that is required in the society for it to function properly. Sociological theories gained power during the industrial revolution that resulted in many negative implications for the people who worked in the factories. They were poor, lived in shanty homes, and there was increase in social evils such as the prostitution and crime. It is with this regard that the earlier sociologists such as Emile Durkheim decided to formulate the theories that explained that situation and sought to provide the solution for it. It is therefore clear that the sociological perspectives are indisputable since they provide the guideline meant to maintain the social order.

One of such sociological perspective is the one that is used to explain the deviant behavior such as the crime. A deviant behavior is any act that is done against the society norms. It therefore violates the rules and regulations and the result for this is negative sanctions or punishment.

In his theory of defiance, a sociologist by name of Robert Merton says that the society is made up of three things that are interrelated. These are culture, social structures and social anomie (Ritzer et al. 2003) Culture can be said to be a set of beliefs and values that govern the behavior of any given society. It provides a way by which the society acquires their goals. Social structures are the institutions such as the religion and education which are supposed to socialize the society. They have a goal of ensuring that the society is orderly by promoting a kind of culture which is uniform with an aim of avoiding any kind of a conflict. Anomie on the other hand has been explained as the state by which the society has lost the values that are supposed to guide the behavior.

In explaining crime, Merton says that the society has been obsessed with the desire to achieve and live luxurious lives (Ritzer 2003). Therefore each person in the society has a goal of excelling in life. The only means to do this has been reduced to education since the society requires brilliant people who are advance in their studies. This however has a tendency of locking many people out while they still have the desire to achieve like any other person.

Merton argues that the society provides the goals but fails to provide the legitimate means to achieve them. In our example above, many people in the society might not have access to education. Others also may not excel in academics and therefore are likely to be left out of the job market. The explanation for this is that, people have to survive whether by using the legitimate or the illegitimate means. The inequality in the achievement of social goals using the legitimate means has caused many people to opt for criminal means to achieve them. One of the ways by which the government fails to maintain equality is in the distribution of the social resources. This deprives people the opportunity to be successful and therefore they result to criminal activities.

The other main cause of crime as explained above is the discrepancy between culture and anomy. When the society denounces their culture that offers the guidance to social behavior, they are left without values and therefore they can use any means to achieve their goals.

Therefore, crime and any social deviant behavior can be reduced by maintaining the culture that ensures cohesion, solidarity and harmony in the society. The relevant authority can also play a part in reduction by ensuring that the national resources are equally distributed amongst the society so that none is lacking.


The deviant behavior will perpetuate unless the cultural issues are taken into consideration since they provide values that stipulate the means that one has to use in order to acquire their goals.


George Ritzer. (2003) “Robert K. Merton”, in Blackwell Companion to Major Contemporary Social Theorists, Blackwell Publishing, 2003, ISBN 1-4051-0595

Tepperman, L., & Curtis, J.(2006). Principles of Sociology: Canadian Perspectives, p. 117. Oxford University Press, Canada. ISBN 0195423488

Ritzer, George and Douglas Goodman. (2004). Sociological Theory, Sixth Edition. McGraw Hill.

Babbie, Earl R. (2003). The Practice of Social Research, 10th edition. Wadsworth, Thomson Learning Inc., ISBN 0-534-62029-9