Some behaviors that used to be considered acceptable are now considered deviant or even criminal. Some behaviors that used to be considered criminal or deviant are now being decriminalized and accepted as normal. Some have even gone through cycles of acceptance, criminalization, and re-acceptance. Here are some examples:
- Roughly two centuries ago, George Washington owned the largest whiskey distillery in America, yet a little over 100 years later, the United States government passed the 18th Amendment, prohibiting the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages. Thirteen years later, the amendment was repealed and the sale of alcohol was decriminalized. Yet there are still restrictions in some states that are referred to as “dry” laws.
- During the 20th century, Americans’ positions on marijuana became highly polarized. By the latter half of the century, its recreational and even medicinal use had become criminalized. Recently, however, society has begun to adopt more permissive views; medicinal use is now allowable in many states, and in the election of 2012, the states of Washington and Colorado voted to allow safe recreational use.
- Interracial marriage was considered deviant and criminal during much of the history of the United States. In fact, southern states’ laws prohibiting interracial marriage were only repealed as late as 1967. Today, interracial marriage is legal and is not considered to be deviant by most (but not all) Americans.
This paper asks you to describe how a given behavior came to be considered deviant and to identify the social control mechanisms used to influence those who engage in the behavior.
Select a behavior that is or was considered deviant or criminal (and possibly no longer is).
Write a 700- to 1,050-word paper that explains how and why the behavior came to be considered deviant or criminal. Your paper should answer the following questions:
- What norms are (or were) threatened by this behavior?
- What mechanisms of control are (or were) exercised to influence those who engage in this behavior?
- Which sociological theory of deviance—anomie, strain, control, cultural transmission, or labeling—best explains why this behavior was or is considered deviant?
List your references according to APA guidelines, including links to any websites or online articles your paper refers to.