Sociological Theories Are Important In Essay

Submitted By stewartmamone1
Words: 509
Pages: 3

Sociological theories are important in understanding the roots of social problems such as crime, violence, and mental illness and in explaining how these problems may be remedied. By specifying the causes of deviance, the theories reveal how aspects of the social environment influence the behavior of individuals and groups. Further, the theories suggest how changes in these influences may yield changes in levels of deviant behaviors. If a theory specifies that a particular set of factors cause deviant behavior, then it also implies that eliminating or altering those factors in the environment will change levels of deviance. By developing policies or measures that are informed by sociological theories, government agencies or programs focused on problems like crime or violence are more likely to yield meaningful reductions in criminal or violent behavior.
This chapter reviews the major sociological theories of deviance. It offers an overview of each major theory, summarizing its explanation of deviant behavior. Before reviewing the theories, however, it may prove useful to describe two different dimensions of theory that will structure our discussion. The first of these, the level of explanation, refers to the scope of the theory and whether it focuses on the behavior and characteristics of individuals or on the characteristics of social aggregates such as neighborhoods, cities, or other social areas. Micro-level theories stress the individual, typically explaining deviant acts in terms of personal characteristics of individuals or the immediate social context in which deviant acts occur. In contrast, macro-level theories focus on social aggregates or groups, looking to the structural characteristics of areas in explaining the origins of deviance, particularly rates of deviance among those groups.
Theories of deviance also vary in relation to a second dimension, causal focus. This dimension divides theories into two groups, those that explain the social origins of norm violations and those explaining societal reactions to deviance. Social origin theories focus on the causes of norm violations. Typically, these theories identify aspects of the social environment that trigger norm violations; social conditions in which the…