There are three sociological
perspectives that explain
Strain theory – views deviance as a
natural outgrowth of values, norms, and
structure of society.
 Societies goal is to achieve economic
 However not every one has access to the
legitimate means to achieve these goals.
 Anomie- the situation that arises when
the norms of society are unclear or no
longer applicable.
Merton’s Structural Strain Theory
 Conformity
 Innovation
 Ritualism
 Retreatism
 Rebellion
Conflict Perspective
Competition and social inequality lead to
 See social life as a struggle between
those who posses power ( ruling class )
and those who do not ( lower class )
People with Power
Commit deviant acts in a effort to
maintain their position.
 Label any behavior that threatens their
power base as deviant
 Explain deviance as a problem of the
lower class
 Crime enforcement efforts are most
directed toward crimes committed by the
lower classes
People without power
Commit deviant acts to obtain economic
 Low self esteem and feelings of
 People without power don’t necessarily
commit more crimes than other people.
 Rather, they commit crimes that are
most likely to be detected and punished
Interactionist perspective
Control theory: explains deviance as a
natural occurrence.
 Cultural transmission theory: explains
deviance as a learned behavior
 Differential association: frequency and
closeness of a associations a person
has with deviant and non deviant
Other aspects of Deviance
Labeling theory: how individuals come to
be identified as deviant
 Primary deviance: deviance that goes
 Secondary deviance: results in a
individual being labeled a deviant
 Degradation: public setting, trial , guilty,
punished and labeled deviant

Why do people commit deviant acts?