Deviance Essay, Research Paper
Deviance is the behavior and the standards of expectations of a group or society. It is also behavior that is considered dangerous, threatening or offensive. The people that are deviant are often labeled to be weirdos, oddballs, or creeps. In the United States, people with tattoos, drug addicts, alcoholics, and compulsive gamblers are all considered deviant. Sociologists believe that everybody is deviant from time to time. They believe each person will violate a social norm in certain situations. People are considered deviant if they don’t stand for the national anthem at a sports event, dress casually to a fancy restaurant, or skip classes. One category of deviance is Crime. Crime is a violation of norms that have been formally enacted into a law. Another category of deviance is humorous. Deviance is relative, what is deviant in one group or society may not be deviant in another group or society.
In the movie Sleepers the boys, Shakes, Michael, John, and Tommy were all perfect examples of deviant people. You can see why the boys are deviant through Travis Hirschis’ Social Bond Theory. This theory states that there are four bonds which let an individual decide whether or not they will be deviant. The four bonds are Commitment, Attachment, Involvement and Belief. Commitment says that before a deviant act is committed a person always weighs their costs and rewards. By doing this they are calculating their possible losses. If their stake in conforming is high then there is a low chance of deviance. If a person has nothing to lose then the deviance is more likely. Attachment is the emotional tie to those who conform and are non-deviant. If a person has affectionate and strong emotional ties, chances of deviance decrease. If a person has weak ties and non affectionate relationships deviance is increased. Involvement is the amount of time or energy you spend on legit conventional activities. Belief is whether or not a person believes in moral validity of the law and their respect for authority.
In Sleepers the boys were all deviant. One instance in particular of being deviant is stealing the hot dog. All four of the boys were laying on top of a roof on a hot summer day with nothing to do. They were all hungry and bored when they saw the hot dog vendor standing on the corner. Michael asked the boys if they wanted to steal a hot dog to get food. The boys at first did not want to do it, but then they thought about it and realized they didn’t really have anything to lose. The worst that they thought could happen was that they didn’t get any hot dogs. The plan was that one of the boys would up and asks for a hot dog. Then after he is handed the hot dog from the vendor he runs off. This leaves two options for the vendor. One, he can let boy run off with the dog. This would be good because then they would have gotten that one hot dog for free. The second option the vendor has is to chase the boy. This doesn’t sound good but it is actually better. If the vendor goes to chase him then he leaves his hot dog cart all alone for the other boys to go through and get all the free hot dogs they want. By thinking this all through the boys thought they had nothing to loss and the reward would be much greater than the lose could be. The boys Attachment factor is very low. The boys’ come from homes that are anything but perfect. For example, Michael came from a home where his father often beat up on his mother. The boys did not come from homes with strong emotional ties and affectionate relationships but rather had their stronger emotional ties within their own small group. Since they came from homes like this, their involvement with legit conventional activities were low. The boys did what they could to get out of the house and away from their homes. They had only one really legit activity, which was working at the church. The boys worked as alter boys at their local church. Since this was their only legit activity, the boys had a lot of time available for deviant activities. Since the boys had free time they ended up getting a job for King Benny. King Benny was a man in the neighborhood who owned a restaurant and was involved in criminal activities. The boys worked for Benny delivering packages to other people and dropping off money to police officers. The boys knew that what they were doing was wrong but they felt nothing wrong with it. Another reason they committed the act of stealing the hotdog was because of their Involvement and Attachment bonds. If the boys had affectionate relationships at home or if they had a legit job, then they would not have been on the roof doing nothing. Instead they decided to sit around all day and do nothing. The main reason the boys decided to steal the hotdog was because none of them wanted to go home to eat and deal with the frustration of their families. The boys also did not really have much respect for authority. They grew up in Hells Kitchen which was known for its criminal activities. The boys did not respect authority which made them more likely to commit these deviant acts. When the boys stole the hotdogs they talked about how they didn’t look at the vendor as a man but rather as a way to get free food. They didn’t know the man came to America to work with the hopes to later bring his wife and two children. If the boys had respected this man and respected the laws then they probably would not have stolen from him.
Another theory that shows why the boys were deviant is the Differential Association Theory. This theory states that people learn deviance from other people in which they have close association with. These people that you have close association with teach you deviant definitions. Deviant definitions are an attitude, rationalization, and motivation for being deviant. Differential Association suggests deviance is more likely when a persons’ definitions favoring law violation outweigh their definitions towards unfavorable law violations. Conditions that define the nature of Differential Association are Frequency, Duration, Intensity, and Priority. Frequency is when a person associates with deviant people. When a person is around deviant people then deviance is more likely. Duration is the length of time spent with deviant others. Intensity is the degree to which you identify with deviant people. And priority is how early in life deviance influences occur. In the movie Sleepers the boys had close association with deviant people their whole lives. The boys grew up in a place called Hells Kitchen. This is a place known for its deviant behavior. The boys frequently associated with people that committed deviant acts. When the boys were young they worked for King Benny. The boys knew he was a criminal and they decided to work for him. By getting a job with him, they increased their amount of time in which they would spend with deviant people. Since the boys were with deviant people their whole lives it wasn’t thought of as wrong to commit deviant acts. When the boys committed these acts they did not feel as they were doing anything wrong. After the boys had grown up they led totally different lives. Tommy and Johnny had continued to live their deviant lives. They were members of a group in Hells Kitchen that were known criminals. The two boys were thieves and would kill at will. They were constantly surrounded by other deviant people. Their whole lives were spent with deviant people so they felt nothing wrong with committing deviant acts themselves. When Tommy and Johnny shot and killed Sean Nokes, the guard from Wilkinson House for Boys, they felt nothing wrong about it. They just thought it was another day in their lifestyle. However, Shakes and Michael were two totally different stories. These two had grown up and conformed. They now followed the law instead of breaking it and were no longer deviant people. Michael had grown up to have a real job as a lawyer and Shakes had also gotten a legit job working for a newspaper. These two were able to conform and not be deviant because of the people they were involved with. Michael and Shakes were no longer surrounded by deviant people, but rather conformers. If they had committed crimes and broken the law then they would have felt out of place with the people they now associated with. The frequency and duration of time they did spend with deviant people was low enough to keep them from being deviant themselves.