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Positivist and Constructionist Theories: Basic Differences

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Positivist and Constructionist Theories: Basic Differences Dana L Ward Athens State University Positivist and Constructionist Theories: Basic Differences There is a basic difference in the two theories known as positivist and constructionist in sociology. It is considered determinism. In order to understand the theories and deviance, one must understand determinism. What is determinism? It is the belief that everything is already decided and occurs based on every thought, action and feeling we have by things that have already happened. The future then is determined by our past. Positivism originated with August Comte. It was considered a philosophical approach that replaced speculation with science. Positivist theorists believe…show more content…
His interest wasn’t so much why someone deviates but why the rates differed dramatically from one society to another. Merton also changed the concept to where there is an apparent lack of fit between cultures norms, about the apparent lack of success and the appropriate goals to achieve them. He believed the United States puts more emphasis on success, and anomie –strain becomes the explanation for high rates of deviant behavior in the U.S. compared with other societies, and also an explanation for the distribution of deviant behavior across groups defined by class, race, and ethnicity. The U.S., in fact, Merton sees as an example of a society in which success goals (often defined primarily in monetary terms) are emphasized for everyone in the culture, and people are criticized for not performing to their best ability. Constructionist Perspective Constructionist looks at deviance from a different perspective. It is the "social construction of deviance" that needs to be explained, not the ("wrong") choices of individuals. Labeling Theory The labeling theory, an example of constructivist perspective is the theory put forth to define how deviance is experienced and why people continue to be deviant. The labeling theory was developed by a group of sociologists in the 1960’s. It is a version of symbolic interactionism defining deviance as a collective action involving the acts of more than one person, and the
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