Unit 6 Interview Analysis
Purdue Global University
According to Macionis, deviance is the “recognized violation of cultural norms” (Macionis, 2013, pg. 238). To learn more about deviance in society today, I conducted two interviews and followed a professional interview protocol. The first interview was with a neighbor (hereon referred to as participant one), female, approximately age sixty, conducted in her front yard. The second interview was with my boyfriend (hereon referred to as participant two), age thirty-four, and was conducted in our living room. Deviance is a broad term. Although deviance includes criminal acts, it could also be as simple as not listening to your mother or engaging in sexual activity as an adolescent.
Participant one was interviewed on Friday April 27, 2018 at 5:30 PM in the participant’s front yard. To begin, an explanation of the purpose for the interview was given to the participant and she gave informed consent. I began by asking participant one if she understood what deviance was, her response was “breaking the law or being evil.” I then explained to her that deviance includes breaking the law but that it is not only criminal acts, it is breaking the rules of society as a whole. I then offered some examples, such as how some people view people with deformities as deviant because they are different from the way “normal” people look, or how in some cultures not conforming to family rules is viewed as deviant, and then the obviously deviant acts such as speeding or driving drunk (Macionis, 2013). I then asked participant one to tell me what she thought some of the reasons behind deviance in today’s society are. Her response, “I am a teacher. I teach seventh grade. I see kids who come from all different types of homes. I believe deviance is caused by peer pressure. If kids act out in class and others encourage them, they feel like they are in some special rebel club.” I then asked her if she could think of any effective ways that could help prevent people from breaking society’s rules. She told me, “From a teacher’s perspective, parents need to open communication lines with their kids and make them feel like they can say whatever they want without fear of punishment. The kids I see in my class are all good kids, but that does not mean they do not stumble, the best way to ensure they do not is too let them know they are valued and have their parents support and guidance even if they do act stupidly from time to time.” I then asked her if she could think of any strategies to help prevent adults from breaking society’s rules. She took a moment to think and then responded, “Drugs seem to be a huge problem in today’s world. When I was growing up, pot was the only thing we ever saw, free love and all that. Today we have bigger problems. I do not have a good answer, but we need to get out ahead of that poison.” I thanked her for her time and told her to have a good evening.
Participant one responded that she believes deviance is caused by peer pressure. This keeps in line with Sutherland’s Differential Association Theory. According to this theory, people will conform or deviate from behaviors based on the responses they get from others (Macionis, 2013). For instance if a teen gets encouragement from their peers for acting out in class then another teen may act the same way to gain popularity or fit in. Participant one’s responses regarding how to help prevent deviance reminded me or Hirschi’s Control Theory which relies on people anticipating consequences of behavior (Macionis, 2013). Hirschi’s belief on attachment specifically follows participant ones ideas about how close family relationships could improve conformity rather than deviance from it.
Participant two was interviewed on Saturday April 28, 2018 at 2:30PM in our living room. I explained to him the reason for the interview and gained his informed consent. I also began by explaining what deviance is and gave examples of deviant behavior. I then asked him what he thought are some of the reasons behind deviance in today’s society. His response, “peer pressure is a huge problem for kids, low paying jobs is to blame for a lot, it should not be so hard to support a household.” I then asked participant two what he thought are some effective ways to prevent people from breaking society’s rules. He responded, “Increased minimum wage could go a long way in stopping petty crimes, the decriminalization of marijuana in all states, and free healthcare so people with mental illnesses can get help. I then thanked participant two for his time and responses and moved on to questions about what we should have for dinner.
Participant two responded that he also believes deviance comes from peer pressure. This keeps in line with Sutherland’s Differential Association Theory. Participant two also mentioned that low paying jobs is to blame for deviance and an increase in minimum wage could help stop deviance. This reminded me of Merton’s Strain Theory which suggests people deviate from cultural norms because of lack of opportunity to gain things deemed valuable by society such as a good paying job (Macionis, 2013). If a person does not have the ability to attend college due to the financial burden it brings then they cannot gain a prestigious job that will give them a good income. Thus leaving them to live in poverty and resort to stealing to support their family.
It appears that peer pressure is commonly believed to be one of the causes of deviance in today’s youth. I do agree with my respondents on this. I am also inclined to agree with participant two on his belief that deviance is also a result of low paying employment. We cannot expect the people of our society to sit back and watch their children starve in a country where professional athletes are earning millions of dollars for throwing a ball down a field and senator’s children are attending college for free while some children in inner cities cannot even get enough face time with teachers to learn to read. We as a society need to open our eyes to the fact that some of the deviance is of our own doing and there are ways to prevent it. If we do not arm people with tools in the form of good parenting, good education and opportunities then deviance will continue to happen.
Macionis, J. J. (10/2013). Sociology, 15th Edition. [Purdue University Global Bookshelf]. Retrieved from https://purdueuniversityglobal.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781323259566/
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