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Sociology: Value Conflict

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Objectivity means that the conclusions arrived at as the result of inquiry and investigation are independent of the race, color, creed, occupation, nationality, religion, moral preference and political predisposition of the investigator. If hi research is truly objective, it is independent of any subjective elements; any personal desires that he may have. Having said that, one can argue whether it is impossible for sociology to be value free because in order for it to become objective it has to confine itself to so many criteria and conditions. It seems as if it is impossible for sociology to be value free since it is the study of humanity and society which of course cannot be freed from making value judgment.

This proves that even science itself is not value free, what are the changes for sociology to be fully objective? Observers have their own interpretation and interest, so they will take actions in accordance with their interest. They will alter evidence, add variables and ignore other possibilities to prove their theories. Values enter the study of sociology even before any experiments or hypothesis being made. Researchers will find areas that they find suitable and significantly what they think plays a greater role and has deeper impacts on sociology. Weber himself chose to study bureaucracy and the advent of capitalism since he believed that these two areas are more important in the Western societies.

Another condition for sociology to be free from values is its ability to separate social facts from values. Since sociology is the study of human nature, some sociologists believed that it cannot be obtained. According to Max Weber, individuals view the world from a value laden perspective. It is impossible to exclude feelings, personal views and judgments, since human beings the subject matter for sociology has feelings, emotions and consciousness.

Deviant Behavior

The concept of a deviant Behavior refers to a sequence of stages through which the rule-breaker may evolve into a full-fledged deviant or outsider (Becker, 2005). According to Becker, after the individual has been labeled as deviant, they progress down the path of a deviant Behavior and it becomes hard to shake off the deviant label as others see it as a master status of the individual. He points out that when studying deviant people one should not take their deviance for granted, as one cannot assume that these people have actually committed a deviant act or broken some rule, because the process of labeling theory may not be infallible. In other words, to be deviant behavior deviant does not necessarily mean that the individual is, or has been deviant in the past. In addition, Kai T. Erikson (2005) also highlights the way social reaction affects the deviant individual.

He reinforces what Becker had previously suggested saying that deviance is not a property inherent in certain forms of behaviour, it is a property conferred upon these forms by the audiences which directly or indirectly witness them (Erikson,2005). He suggests that deviance is necessary to society’s stability, rather than being responsible for its breakdown, as the deviant individual serves as a marker of the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, and as Erikson writes, in doing so, he shows us the difference between the inside of the group and the outside. He goes on to bring forward the question of whether or not the Labeling of deviant individuals is necessary in holding society together.

In conclusion, deviant behavior has now spread outside the confines of the sociology of deviance. For example, the imputation of the label `insane` to a person may represent an important stage in the process of becoming mentally ill. Furthermore, after thorough analysis it is evident that deviant behavior has proven to be very significant in establishing a relative body of empirical research evidence on the study of crime and deviance.


Labeling theory, stemming from the influences of Cooley, Mead, Tannenbaum, and Lemert, has its origins somewhere within the context of the twentieth century. However, Edwin Lemert is widely considered the producer and founder of the original version of labeling theory. The theoretical study of societal reaction to deviance has been carried out under different names, such as, Labeling theory, interactions perspective, and the social constructionist perspective. In the sociology of deviance, the Labeling theory of deviant behavior is often used interchangeably with the societal reaction theory of deviancy. As a matter of fact, both phrases point equally to the fact that sociological explanations of deviance function as a product of social control rather than a product of psychology or genetic inheritance. Some sociologists would explain deviance by accepting without question definitions of deviance and concerning themselves with primary aetiology. However, Labeling theorists stress the point of seeing deviance from the viewpoint of the deviant individual.

Labeling theory is constituted essentially by two propositions. The first is that deviant behavior is to be seen not simply as the violation of a norm, but as any behavior which is successfully defined or labeled as deviant. The deviance does not in here in the act itself but in the response of others to that act. In other words, the deviance is said to be in the eye of the beholder. The second proposition claims that Labeling produces or amplifies deviance. The deviant’s response to societal reaction leads to secondary deviation by which the deviant comes to accept a self-image or self-definition as someone who is permanently locked within a deviant role. Labeling theory has also been used to explain witchcraft. Nevertheless, the theory in its entirety has provided a beneficial development of the sociological understanding of self-conceptions, relationships between deviance, social reaction and social control.

Critical Perspective

A key role that also plays a part in molding human behavior is the social force of socialization. It is a process of interaction between individuals and groups of a society. The knowledge is shared, learned and transmitted within small groups and large systems. Socialization is promoted throughout a mixture of agents where the process occurs. The perspective of functionalism in association to sociological imagination, practiced in the work of Emile Durkheim, may be interpreted on a biological level. Distinctively speaking, the human body may be exemplified as an aid to enhance the understanding of society as a whole. The different parts of the human body are linked, therefore understanding the relationship between them, formulates a basic conception of the organism as a whole.

The Marxist feminism perspective views the position of women in society within the structural form. Sociologically, women are a form of underclass in the working class society of the economical system. The type of work and duties carried out in the institution of the home is unrecognized in the macro world. the emphasis on critical analysis between the sociological perspective and imagination in opposition to the individualistic and naturalistic approach illustrate differentiation in suggested theories. The dissimilarity articulates solid empirical evidence supported by both sides of perspectives, therefore challenges the social forces of culture, socialization and identity that manipulate and mould the human behavior in contemporary society. The connections like functionalism and Marxism, branch out from the perspectives to function as padding, placing a conceptualized interpretation of social behavior with regards to society.


Becker, H. S. (2005). Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance. New York, NY: The Free Press Becker, H. S. (2006).

Blumer, H. (2005). Symbolic Interactionism. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

Blumer, H. (2006). Sociological Implications of the Thoughts of George Herbert Mead. Englewood Cliff, New Jersey.

Cicourel, V. A. (2007). The Social Organization of Juvenile Justice. New York, NY: The Free Press

Elsevier, New York. Heckert, D. (2007). Ugly Duckling to Swan: Labelling Theory and the Stigmatization of Red Hair. Symbolic Interaction, 20(4):365-385

Erikson, K. T. (2005). Wayward Puritans. Wiley, NY. Gibb, J. (2005). Conceptions of Deviant Behaviour: The Old and the New.

Liazos, A. (2005). The Poverty of the Sociology of Deviance: Nuts, Sluts and Perverts. Mead, H. G. (2006). Mind, Self, and Society: From the Standpoint of a Social Behaviourist. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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