Deviance is defined as "behavior that violates the standards of conduct or expectations of a group or society" (Schaefer, 2003, p. 188). Who really knows why deviance occurs? Many different theories have been made to explain deviance. A few of these theories are anomie, culture transmission, differential association, labeling, and the conflict theory.
The first theory is anomie. It is defined as "Emile Durkheim's term for the loss of direction felt in a society when social control of individual behavior has become ineffective" (Schaefer, 2003, 207). It is also "a state of normlessness that typically occurs during a period of profound social change and disorder, such as a time of economic collapse" (p. 192). .
Another part of the anomie theory is Robert Merton. "He adapted Durkheim's notion of anomie to explain why people accept or reject the goals of a society, the socially approved means of fulfilling their aspirations, or both, which became known as the anomie theory of deviance" (Schaefer, 2003, p. 207). .
My interpretation of the anomie theory is that when a state of anomie occurs people lose their sense of purpose or direction in life and turn to lives of crime or suicide. Deviant behavior is a result of confusion, frustration, and loses of hope that leads to chaos.
The second theory is cultural transmission. It is "a school of criminology that argues that criminal behavior is learned through social interactions" (Schaefer, 2003, p. 208). "Such learning includes not only techniques of lawbreaking but also the motives, drives, and rationalization of criminals. We can also use the cultural transmission approach to explain why the behavior of those who habitually use alcohol or drugs" (p. 194).
"Sutherland maintained that through interactions with a primary group and significant others, people acquire definitions of proper and improper behavior" (Schaefer, 2003, p. 194). The third theory is differential association.