Crime is an act that involves breaking the law. Examples of crime include murder and rape. Deviance is an act or behavior that is different from normal behavior exhibited in society. Examples of deviance include jaywalking and skipping school. Social controls, on the other hand, are systems and societal mechanisms that regulate behaviors of individuals in a society. A good example of social control is the judiciary system. Using these definitions, this article will try to analyze Leblanc and Stolte’s views on graffiti. Moreover, the article will incorporate different views as portrayed by structural-functionalist, a symbolic-interactionist, and a social-conflict perspective.
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In his work, Leblanc (2011) likes graffiti (13). Leblanc (2011) tries to understand the motive behind the graffiti artist (13). He finds it interesting that while some graffiti artists are attracted to the criminal element, others just aim to do meaningful work that would delight the audience (Leblanc 13). From a structural-functionalist point of view, society s a complex system. Due to the complex nature of society, people exhibit different characters. Leblanc (2011) takes a structural-functionalist point of view when he envisions graffiti as necessary societal evil (13). The society must exist with both the evil and the good (Gary 14).
This concept explains why some of the graffiti artists are attracted to the criminal element, while others are attracted to the notion of pleasing people. Individuals attracted to the crime are deviant to the law. Therefore, they express their deviance by drawing graffiti. Other users of graffiti are just artists trying to express their opinions in graffiti (Leblanc 13). According to Becker, societies make their own rules. Infractions of these rules are deemed as deviance (Becker 5; Donal and Andrew 44). Therefore, it is not necessarily true that graffiti artists are criminals. The element of crime in their case arises due to the rules made by society. So today’s deviance maybe tomorrow’s societal norm.
Stolte (2011), on the other hand, views the use of graffiti as an indication of poor behavior development in the future (5). In his work, Stolte (2011) takes the view of a symbolic-interactionist. According to Stolte (2011), if a boy sketches or doodle graffiti on a classroom wall, it may be compared to a situation where he brought a knife to school (5). Stolte (2011), therefore, associates graffiti sketches to character deformity. He intimates that graffiti drawing is a sign of deviance and has a corroding effect on the character of an individual (Stolte 5).
It is clear that graffiti drawing is not necessarily an act of defiance. However, the manner in which Stolte (2011) has responded to the act of using graffiti clearly identifies graffiti drawers as criminals. From a symbolic interactionist point of view, deviant people in the society are labeled by the persons in power. In the actual sense, there is no objective reality that shows whether an element of character is actually deviance or crime.
This is because different groups in society define the same behavior in different ways. Therefore, from Stolte’s point of view, graffiti artists are criminals. However, this point of view is subject to change. Even in cases where the society has set standards and agreed on the standards of behavior, these standards may change over time (Heidensohn 31). A good example of such a case is prostitution. Different societies in the world are now accepting prostitution. In fact, some governments are even legalizing prostitution. In this light, there may come a time when graffiti drawers are accepted in society as artists and not criminals.
Becker, Howard. Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance. New York: Free Press, 1963. Print.
Donal, E. Jansen and Andrew, Kitt Deviants: Victims or Victimizers? Beverly Hills, California: Sage, 1983. Print.
Gary, F. Jensen. The path of the Devil: Early Modern Witch Hunts. London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007. Print.
Heidensohn, Frances. Women and Crime. London: Macmillan, 1985. Print.
Leblanc, Dave. “Graffiti: Mischief or Masterpiece?” The Globe and Mail (Index-only), (2011):13. Web.
Stolte, Elise. “Graffiti Art a Red Flag For Future Aggression: ‘Tagging’ Likely to Lead to More Crimes, Experts Say.” Edmonton Journal, 1.5 (2011): 5-12. Web.