Sociology Essay

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Sociologist Theory Stanley Watkins SOC 101 Introduction to Sociology Yelena Gidenko 17SEP2012 Out of the list of influential theorist given I have selected to talk about Howard S. Becker. Becker is an American Sociologist who made major contributions to the Sociology of Deviance, Sociology of Art, and Sociology of Music. The major contribution of study I have chosen to describe is the Sociology of Deviance, more specifically his labeling theory. Howard Becker is often called a symbolic interactionist because of his micro scale of study. With that being said, let me describe this theory to you. By definition deviance, in a sociological context, describes actions or behaviors that violate social norms, including formally-enacted rules as well as informal violations of social norms. In the book ‘Outsiders’ written by Howard Becker in 1963, he defined deviance as “not a quality of a bad person but the result of someone defining someone’s activity as bad” (Becker, 1963). Becker’s work on deviance has solidified him as one of the founders of the labeling theory. The labeling theory is based on the idea that a social deviant is not an inherently deviant individual, rather they become deviant because they are labeled as such. In Becker’s book ‘Outsiders’ he explains social groups create deviance by making rules whose infractions create deviance, and by applying those rules to particular people and labeling them as outsiders. From this perspective, deviance is not a quality of the act the person commits, but rather a consequence of the application by others of rules and sanctions to an offender. The deviant is one to whom that label has been successfully applied; deviant behavior is behavior that people so label. According to Becker, not all individuals who are labeled deviant must remain deviant. However, once labeled deviant it becomes more

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