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Social Structure: Factors and Indicators Essay

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Updated: Aug 30th, 2020


Social structure refers to the systematic social characteristics of individuals and society. These characteristics often emerge from both the individual members of society and society itself. These patterned characteristics also shape the character of society members. Social set-ups include values governing the activities of their members. Violation of accepted behavior is often a product of criminal intent and ignorance. Measures to deal with the offenders are often referred to as degradation ceremonies.


The object of degradation ceremonies is to bring the character of a person to question. Degradation ceremonies change the moral standing of a person in society. However, offenders have devised methods to defeat this ceremony (Benson, 1985). These techniques include denial of criminal responsibility or injury, victim-blaming, and condemnation of adjudicators (Benson, 1985). All these factors can influence offenders to commit more offenses. This paper will analyze the situations that encourage the violation of social norms. It will also analyze the factors that discourage the violation of social norms.

There are settings that tend to affect people making them violate social norms. For instance, parties in colleges have been found to encourage sexual assaults because such events involve drinking alcohol which to some extent affects sound judgment and adequate behavior. Women who take excessive amounts of alcohol in the midst of strangers are likely to be assaulted. However, in some cases, the perpetrators are known to the women. Traditionally, college parties happen in gendered set-ups.

Women are expected to be nice guests while men play the role of hosts (Armstrong, Hamilton & Sweeney, 2006). This puts the women in a disadvantageous position because the men control what goes on at a party. When cases of assault are reported, the victims are often blamed. In such cases, community and society encourage the violation of social norms. Society tolerates some forms of social violations.

Presence of opportunity to commit an offense has also been mentioned as an encouraging factor. Fraudsters find and use the opportunity to cheat the others. This is enabled by ignorance on the part of the victim. Embezzlers, on the other hand, often lay the blame on extraordinary situations for their violations. They often state that they were pushed to commit an offense by difficult conditions. This is known as a denial of responsibility as the person tries to shift it to someone else.

Ignorance is another factor that encourages people to violate social norms. For instance, the tax violators often say that they have been unaware that they were committing a crime. Financial trust violators also consider ignorance as one of the reasons why they committed the crime. However, it has been argued that ignorance is not an excuse. This implies that those who violate social norms should be responsible for their actions. This argument presumes that every action has an inherent intention. Therefore, an offender is always aware of what he/she is doing.

Established industry practices can also encourage the violation of social norms. For instance, students who cheat often say that they do so because it is a common practice of passing exams (LaBeff, Clark, Haines & Deikhoff, 1990). In fact, some may argue that cheating is not wrong in that context. Therefore, what students do appears to encourage others to join. Procurement violations have also been committed due to established industry practices. Some companies may collude with their competitors when setting product quotations. New entrants get into the vice because they find the companies, which are in the market for the long run, violating procurement rules.

Deterrents of these violations include guilty conscience and emotional suffering. The offenders often suffer from emotional distress following their crimes. The degradation of ceremonies or adjudication causes considerable distress to them. This acts as a deterrent to future violations. However, some offenders are embittered by the punishment they receive. They get a new motivation to commit the crimes; thus others may become carrier criminals.

Conviction damages reputation. If one is arrested and convicted of a crime, one’s status in society is significantly dented. Such people are subjected to public ridicule, and their character brought to question. Therefore, people of high moral standing are discouraged by the possible loss of reputation. Societal values tend to focus on virtues and vices. Members are labeled based on their actions. Those whose actions are acceptable are elevated to high moral pedestal. Offenders are subjected to what has been described as social degradation.


In conclusion, this paper has analyzed factors that motivate people to violate social norms. Different settings appear to encourage certain violations. Parties during which excess amounts of alcohol are being consumed appear to result in sexual assault cases. Alcohol clouds the mind of both the victim and the perpetrator. In addition, such parties are held in set-ups with an established pattern of behavior. Women are expected to wear revealing clothing and be nice to their male counterparts who play the role of the hosts.

Ignorance of existing laws may also encourage the violation of tax laws. Violators often suffer emotional distress and fall out of favor in their respective communities. In general, violation of socially acceptable standards is preconceived for the most part. Criminal intent is almost always present.


Armstrong, E., Hamilton, L., Sweeney, B. (2006). Sexual Assault on Campus: A Multilevel, Integrative Approach to Party Rape. Social Problem, 43 (4), 483-499.

Benson, M. (1985). Denying the Guilty Mind Accounting for Involvement in White-Collar Crime. Criminology, 23(4), 590-599.

LaBeff, E., Clark, R., Haines, V. Deikhoff,G. (1990). Situation Ethics and College Student Cheating. Sociological inquiry, 60 (2), 190-197.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Social Structure: Factors and Indicators." August 30, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/social-structure-factors-and-indicators/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Social Structure: Factors and Indicators'. 30 August.

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