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Deviant groups have been found through various scholarly works to be organized in forms that defer based on the levels of sophistication. The hierarchical order of sophistication ranges from loners, colleagues, peers, and mobs to informal organizations (Best & Luckenbill, 1980, p.14). Contribution of members in deviance, services rendered to deviants, kind of socialization, the magnitude of intricacies of deviant indulgencies, and deviant member’s security in their operations are all a function of organizational sophistication of deviant groups.
Ethnographic research regarding specified various social scenes has the ability to give rise to crucial data that facilitate general and grounded theories describing deviant behaviors. Matza (1964) laments that “the study of deviance, field studies have supplied the basis for the development of general theories of the social psychology of deviance” (p.81). From different perspectives, sociologists have attempted to explain the nature characterizing deferring social organizations among organized criminals, juvenile delinquents, criminals belonging to white-collar categories, and professional criminals.
How a person or group get invested in his/her deviance
Once deviant behavior is initiated, it has the tendency to grow into complex levels. As Best and Luckenbill note any means of scrutinizing deviant social organization must “distinguish between the social organizations of deviants (type patterns of relationships between the deviant actors) and social organization of deviance (the pattern of relationships between the various roles performed in deviant transactions)” (1980, p.15). This way, how a group or person is invested in his/her deviance forms of behavior may be fully understood.
The manner in which one becomes invested in his/her deviance is an evolutional process encompassing three levels. In the first place, there must exist that that is labeled ‘deviant behavior,’ which entangles departure from certain morally, ethically, or legally established norms within the diverse society — for instance, youth involvement in a rather not well established criminal gang. The acts performed by the gang: robbery is not acceptable in the society as it amounts to deprivation of one’s rightful ownership of some property.
“Socialization takes place within particular social groups, and it is the norms of these groups that provide the standards for identifying particular kinds of behavior as deviant” (Best & Luckenbill, p.16). Such a view gives rise to the second phase in which variations in the norms describing certain cultural and subcultural variations are given concerns and explanations. The final explanation regards concerns in the manner in which certain individuals become identified as deviants by some other people and, as a repercussion, end up to intrinsically developing deviant identity.
The first two levels form consolidated pillars of primary deviation. According to Lemert (1972), “It is behavior that runs counter to the normative expectations of a group and is recognized as deviant behavior by its members, but that is ‘normalized’ by them” (p. 191). In the example of a youth indulging in criminal activities accomplished by a criminal gang of which he/she is a member, the acts are normative and acceptable within the gang but prohibited since they are treated as deviant behaviors by the wider society. This means that the acts are tolerated as permissible derailment from what is anticipated.
For an individual to be invested in his/her deviant behavior, normalization follows suit. Consequently, justifications that describe the cause of normalization of behavior termed as deviant is employed. For instance, “a man is aggressive because he is ‘under stress’ at work, a child is naughty because he or she is’ overtired,’ an elderly woman steals from a supermarket because she is ‘confused’” (Becker, 1997, p.97). Secondary deviations finally set in and stigmatization of certain indulgencies onsets accompanied by some punishment measures. As a result, the reactions emanating from the society and the consequences of the deviant acts translate into the central characterization of perceived deviator’s daily experience and hence shaping his/ her future actions.
At this level, the youth who was engaged in non-major criminal activities becomes cognizant of his or her actions and endeavors to accomplish higher goals in his or her life via deviant behavior. Stigmatization takes the forms of coercion, punishment, exclusion, and conversion, among others. Those stigmatized come to the realization that their identities within the society are organized around their perceived acts of deviance. The deviants reach the full stage of investing in deviance when they “come to see themselves as deviants- like a thief, as mentally ill and so on” (Becker, 1997, p.151). Whether deviants accept the labels or not, the labels are important in shaping their future actions of increasingly investing in deviance conducts.
Burglary as deviant behavior
Burglary is deviant behavior, which entails prohibited entry into buildings with the intensions to steal. For a long time, a domestic burglary was an act that attracted a penalty of a death sentence. However, the penalty changed in 1861 all the way to 1968 to a maximum of life imprisonment sentence. Following the British act of 1968, “…the maximum penalty has been fourteen years imprisonment” (Bennett & Wright, 1984, p.102) though practice, however, less than half of those convicted with the deviant behavior is awarded custodial sentence.
Burglary evidently is unacceptable behavior in society and non-consistent with the established societal moral, ethical, and legal establishments. In many situations, society will have explanations as to why an individual indulges in a burglary. Such explanations may be laid on the grounds of poverty escalation among people. Even though the wider society appreciates the facts that, burglary amount to criminal wrongs, there exists that other minute group in the society that does not believe that burglary acts are actually wrong. This is where burglaries get training.
Through the application of the established law prohibiting the misconduct, charging a burglary culprit, and upon delivery of the judgment, the burglary gang member becomes cognizant of the repercussion of the deviant behavior through stigmatization. However, due to the normalization of the misconduct by society, the chances are that even in the light of the legal consequences of the deviance, most burglars will embrace the acts of burglary as a source of livelihood. As Bennett and Wright (1984) note, “Very few burglars—even those at the high level—make a major financial success of their chosen careers, and most spend at least one period in prison” (p.121).
Imprisonment is meant to be a way of punishment and to discourage a repeat of such acts. ” Imprisonment is not, however, a purely negative experience, as it gives the burglar an opportunity to ‘widen his circle of criminal acquaintances, learn new techniques and be encouraged to try his hand at more lucrative offenses” (Bennett & Wright 1984, p.167). Furthermore, the majority of the burglars end up drifting into what they consider as ‘safer jobs.’ Nevertheless, the ‘safer jobs’ are also prohibited by the established moral ethical and legal guidelines existing within cultural and subculture social entities.
Becker, S. (1997). Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance. New York: Free press.
Bennett, T., & Wright, R. (1984). Constraints on burglary: The offender’s perspective In R. Clarke & T. Hope (Eds.), Coping with burglary. Boston, MA: Kluwer-Nijhoff.
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Best, J., & Luckenbill, D. (1980). The Social Organization of Deviants. Social Problems, 28(1), pp 14-31.
Lemert, E. (1972). Human Deviance, Social Problems and Social Control. New Jersey, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Matza, D. (1964). Delinquency and Drift. New York: John Wiley &Sons.