Sociological Theories and the Concept of Deviance.
Deviance is known as any action or behavior that violates social norms. Because deviance is relative, sociologists believe that it's not so much the act itself, but rather the reactions to the act that make something deviant. What people consider to be deviant behavior varies from one culture to the next, just as it does between each group within a society. There are three primary theoretical perspectives that sociologists use today in order to understand the concept of deviance and how it affects society, including: symbolic interactionist perspective, functionalist perspective, and the conflict perspective. Each theory views society a little differently, focusing on different aspects in social roles and human behavior. In short, each theory explains their take on how society influences people, and how, in turn, people influence society. .
One of the primary theoretical perspectives was the symbolic interactionist perspective, also known as symbolic interactionism. According to Henslin, symbolic interactionism believes that symbols, and whatever meaning they have attached to them, are key in developing and understanding our perceptions of the world and how we communicate with one another (pp. 17). Symbolic interactionists view society as a product of everyday social interactions of individuals; in studying deviance, these theorists look at how people in everyday situations define deviance, and how it differs from one culture to the next (OpenStax College, 2015).
Sociologist Edwin Sutherland, studied deviance from the symbolic interactionist perspective in which he came up with his theory of differential association. Henslin stated that "Differential association" was a term coined by Sutherland, created to show that in associating with different groups, we learn to either deviate from or conform to society's norms (pp. 162).