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540 Week 5 Questions Essay

How does labeling cause deviance? What is the difference between primary and secondary deviance?

            According to the labeling theory that was developed and popularized by Howard S. Becker in conjunction with Frank Tannenbaum, the behavior of society to categorize persons into specific groups based on society’s perceptions about such people leads to deviance. As per this theory, society invents, selects, and manipulates the convictions that negatively view certain behaviors before placing the supposedly deviant people into such categories. The deviant person is thus regarded as being ethically inferior. Afterwards, deviants internalize such society-ascribed identities before ultimately beginning to act as per a certain label (Stark, 2007). Deviants then assume unexpected behaviors in a bid to obey the rules of the assigned label.

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            Primary deviance is evident when deviance demonstrates itself before society categorizes such behavior as constituting deviance. In addition, it is the deviance that is placed onto an individual via the acts of reporting or confession. Conversely, secondary deviance exhibits itself after one has committed a societal wrong, has attracted societal reaction by being categorized as a deviant, and has internalized the deviance. The deviant then adopts the behavior that made them to be classified as deviants.

What are some examples of master status not in the text? What are traits associated with them? How do those assumed traits affect our perceptions of people with that status?

            Some illustrations of master statuses include being unemployed, ethnicity, religion, and education. These master statuses have certain traits that are usually associated with them (Macionis, 2005). For instance, the unemployed master status has the common traits of always being in need of money, demonstrating anxiety, and being unhappy. Conversely, the ethnicity orientation master status is characterized by a shared heritage, common language, shared culture, as well as a shared ancestry. On the other hand, the education master status has the characteristics of being knowledgeable, having critical and analytical skills, and being free of common biases found among uneducated persons. In contrast, the religion master status has the traits of common beliefs, common deities, as well as shared religious practices.

            The aforementioned traits lead society into having specific views about people depicting such statuses. For example, the characteristic of being knowledgeable among people with the education master status makes society to have respect for such people. Conversely, the needy trait among those exhibiting the master status of being unemployed makes society to view such people as being more likely to trouble society while begging for alms.

What are decision-making types used by rational choice theory? How do these decisions apply to crime?

            Two of the major decision-making types in rational choice theory include indifference and strict preference. These preference types have relationships with crime, whereby criminals apply them with regard to whether or not to engage in criminal behavior (Fernandez-Huerga, 2008). For example, in relation to strict preference, whereby a person demonstrates a preference for B to A, a criminal has the absolute choice of either committing a crime or not. The offender thus makes a clear choice to either commit an offense or desist from doing so. On the other hand, regarding the indifference type of preference, a criminal engages in unacceptable behavior not out of their own free and unbridled will, but rather as a result of prevailing circumstances. Since the offender does not demonstrate a clear inclination towards a certain action (of either enraging in lawbreaking acts or refraining from such an action), they do not prefer like one option or the other.


Fernandez-Huerga (2008.) The economic behavior of human beings: The institutionalist post-Keynesian model. Journal of Economic Issues, 42, 3: 23-8.

Macionis, J. J. (2005). Sociology, 10th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Stark, R. (2007). Sociology: Biological theories of deviance (Tenth edition). Belmont, CA. Thomson Wadsworth.

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