In general society views deviant behavior as negative and elicits condemnatory reactions to the discovery of such behavior. While many sociological theories frame deviance in judgmental and prosecutorial ways, other perspectives recognize deviance as occurring in potentially objective ways. One considers that, in many ways, it is possible to view deviance from the deviant’s perspectives, without judging it or excusing it.
When examining deviance from the deviant’s perspective one of the significant theories is control theory. Control theory indicates that an individual is motivated to follow social norms out of his or her strong ties to society (Macionis, p. 204). For instance, an individual with a full-time job and a family would be less willing to commit a crime than an individual that is struggling to find gainful employment. Rather than operating as a deliberate form of unethical or immoral behavior, for some people deviance may simply be a means of survival. because they find greater challenges in procuring gainful employment than other individuals.
While control theory examines instances of deviant behavior in terms of an individual’s weak or strong social ties, other perspectives consider it in relation to broader ranging responses to social constraints. This perspective recognizes that laws and regulations may be structured by people in society as a means of maintaining their social control (Goode, p. 110). For instance, one considers that powerful oil companies
may be able to leverage their significant financial resources to enact laws that support corrupt practices.