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The Theories And Construction Of Deviance

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Strain Theory

Strain theory helps to define and explain deviance because it relates the lack of resources with the acts one performs to help them live. Meaning, if someone has to do something illegal or against the grain in order to get food on the table or an income or something to help their livelihood, they will. They don’t have the means to achieve theses cultural goals in an “acceptable” way so they find a different way.

Conflict Theory

Conflict theory helps define and explain deviance because it views social life and status as a competition. It shows that in order to be seen in society as successful or popular, they will do whatever it takes, even if their path to it is deviant. This is especially prevalent in young people who want to “fit in.”

Differential Association Theory

Differential Association Theory helps define and explain deviance because it states that people learn how to exist and interact by how they observe others doing it. This means that if someone witnesses others being deviant, they will in turn do the same. Deviant behavior is learned rather than embedded in someone from birth.

People need food to survive. Sometimes jobs don’t pay enough or they are unable to get a job at all or they have other things they need to spend money on. It is seen as deviant, but they could not survive without committing this act. They had fewer resources, but did what they could to get some.


Some people do not have the means to go through the American dream of higher education and well paying jobs. In order to not feel anything they turn to alcohol to forget their troubles. It’s their way of continuing living, despite lacking in many other parts of life.

Embezzlement of $100,000 by a bank employee

Some jobs don’t pay as well as some people need to feel like they are surviving sustainably. In order to have a better lifestyle, they use nontraditional means to get finances to make their life better. They have less resources but found their way to get more.

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Opioid crisis: Big Pharma vs. Drug Dealers

Since pharmacies are seen as safe and controlled, they are not seen as deviant. But drug dealers are seen as criminal and deviant. They may be selling the same thing in the same does, but only one will be put on trial. Whether they are selling more recreational drugs, or selling medical drugs that people can’t pay to go to the doctor to get prescribed, they will be seen as the bad ones in society.

Violence: Wealthy and Poor

There is such a division between these two groups. They have many opposing views and find it hard to see eye to eye. The poor may feel as if this is unjustified and may react violently. Or the wealthy may see themselves as better and not find it bad to hurt those that are “lesser” than them.

Manipulation of stock prices

People want to be on top, and this is one way to do so. Financial gain is a priority of many. This deviance is done in order to put themselves higher on the social ladder.

Aggravated Assault among 18-25 year old men

This assault was learned by witnessing or noticing other doing the same previously. This action is a result of observing and repeating.

Gang warfare among teenagers and young adults. Young adults were exposed to this behavior and then repeated it. They did not just simply come out of the womb believing in warfare between gangs. They were raised in a subculture where the others were “bad guys” and they believe this is something that should be done.

It is constructed by the society it is in. Deviance in one area may not be the same in another. For example, in America, women driving is just a thing and is very normalized, but in other foreign countries it is unheard of and punishable. It is created by cultural values and the people within the given society.

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The Theories And Construction Of Deviance. (2021, September 20). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 22, 2023, from
“The Theories And Construction Of Deviance.” Edubirdie, 20 Sept. 2021,
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The Theories And Construction Of Deviance [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 20 [cited 2023 Sept 22]. Available from:
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