Theories of Deviance from the Conflict Perspective

1465 Words6 Pages
Theories of Deviance: Conflict Theory
Why are some people 's behaviors more apt to be negatively labeled by the criminal justice system? Labeling theorists point to the role of moral entrepreneurs or social movements, but what about the forces that underlie a particular moral crusade? Why, for example, would American society want to criminalize the production, sale, and consumption of alcoholic beverages in the 1920s? Why the increased penalties for domestic violence in the 1970s, or the War on Drugs in the 1980s? For the conflict theorists, the answer has to do with the balance of power and privilege in society. Everything from material goods to quality education to religious freedom is in short supply, and therefore the typical
…show more content…
If these youths are apprehended, the influence of their parents and the social skills of boys contributes to the interpretation that they are just engaging in youthful highjinks (boys will be boys). The roughnecks are a group of six lower-class boys who engage in lots of fighting (mostly among themselves or with other lower-class boys) and stealing, who are often arrested, and whose image in the community is terrible. In Chambliss 's view, the saints behavior had at least as much potential for community harm as the behavior of the roughnecks. The saints ' driving was bad when they were sober and atrocious when drunk, and their vandalism included moving street signs to create dangerous situations for motorists and watch the "fun." But the saints never got labeled, and they ultimately all went on to college, got degrees, and pursued respectable careers. Two of the roughnecks went to college on football scholarships and were successful; as adults the other roughnecks continued their juvenile involvement with the police and prisons. Chambliss doesn 't claim that their eventual career paths are entirely the result of labeling, but does see it as a factor.
II. Group conflict theory. Where Marx believed that social class is the most basic division in any society, Max Weber saw conflict as having many possible bases--including social class, but also religion, race, ethnicity, and more. Where Marx believed that class inequalities would ultimately be ended by
Get Access