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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Research Paper on Dysfunctions of Deviance - Harmful Impact of Deviant Behavior in the Society

Removing deviant behavior in a society is something that is not possible to achieve.  Considering that individuals have different interpretations of what acts are considered deviant behavior and what acts are considered not deviant, there will be individuals who will engage in actions which they think is normal but for some is deviant.  It will therefore take a “heightened sense of collective sentiment” before deviant behavior may be removed from the society which is also an impossibility considering that we all have different perceptions, values, culture and attitude towards different actions.   

However, knowing which actions are deviant and taking steps to remove them may be important in a society.  Though deviant behavior can contribute to the society’s solidarity and loyalty to the members of the society to each other, it also has a number of dysfunctions. These dysfunctions are the primary reasons why the society seeks to address deviant behavior.

First, deviant behavior constitutes a threat to the society making living in a community difficult and unbearable. Deviant behavior disturbs the social order and the social life of the members of the community. For example, there is a phenomenon now called the elderly fear of crime. It is a fear existing among the elderly people who perceive that the criminals are after them. The fear of crime is due to the increase in crime rate where the victims are mostly elderly individuals. They no longer feel safe when they are out in the street. They are no longer living a normal life because of the perception. However, an examination of the crime rates will reveal that the crimes against elderly individuals are isolated cases which were only sensationalized by the mass media to make the news more exciting.

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Second, deviant behavior creates confusion about the norms and values of the society. In a utopic society, the rules are clearly laid down and everybody follows the law. However, let us consider a community where majority of the teenagers are members of gang. Would it be possible for a teenager to be pressured to join gangs thinking that it is a norm for a teenager like him to join gangs? Yes. When majority of the members of the community are engaged in deviant behavior the lines that divide which acts are normal and which acts are deviant suddenly becomes blurred. The members of the society suddenly become confused which acts are the norms and which acts are deviant.

Third, deviant behavior also affects the trust of the members of the community towards each other. In a utopic society, everybody trusts and relies upon each other to do the right thing which is to observe social rules and norms. However, when a member of the community disturbs the peace of the community then some may start to distrust the rest of the community. This becomes a slippery slope problem and the people start to generalize that everybody in the community can no longer be trusted.

Fourth, deviant behavior diverts valuable resources of the community. When a crime is committed, the community starts to organize themselves to address crime. In the process, they use up valuable resources which should have been used productively. For example, setting up a community patrol consumes a lot of time for the individual members which could have been spent with their family. They contribute their time and effort to help in addressing the community’s crime problem.

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