Positivist and Constructionist Theories: Basic Differences

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Positivist and Constructionist theories: basic differences
There exists conflicting theories among sociologists in the area of determining why a person is considered to be a deviant, and the reasons behind why he or she has committed a deviant act. From a positivistic perspective, deviance is based on biological or social determinism. Alternatively, from a constructionist perspective, deviance is created and assigned by society. Both perspectives seek to give a theory for why a person may become known as deviant. Although they both view similar acts as deviant, the basic differences between positivists and constructionists theories are clear.
The Positivist Perspective
Deviant theories from a positivist perspective are based on biological
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6). The reason for this is that the sociologists believed that “humans do not have any free will” (Thio, 2010, p. 7) and were unable to change what the future held for them.
Other theories from the contemporary positivist perspective come from the belief that deviant determinism is based on social factors. Anomie-strain theory is an example that is based on social factors. The anomie-strain theory directs the reason that a person becomes deviant to the hands of society. This happens when society sets certain goals that may or may not be attainable by all classes of people. Sociologists that follow the anomie-strain theory believe that humans do possess free will (Thio, 2010, p. 7). When a member of society does not have the means necessary to achieve the goal that society sets for them, he or she may be encouraged to find an illegitimate means to achieve the goals.
“However, given this societal pressure toward deviance, not all of us would respond to it in the same way” (Thio, 2010, p. 18). There are five different types of responses that may arise out of this pressure present in the anomie-strain theory by means of free will. The first response is conformity, in which the set goal is accepted and a legitimate means is used to attempt to achieve the
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