Outcome: Theories of Social Deviance

Contrast the varying theoretical perspectives on deviance

Since the early days of sociology, scholars have developed theories that attempt to explain what deviance and crime mean to society. These theories can be grouped according to the three major sociological paradigms: functionalism, symbolic interactionism, and conflict theory.

What you’ll learn to do:

  • Describe the functionalist view of deviance in society through four sociologist’s theories
  • Explain how conflict theory understands deviance and crime in society
  • Describe the symbolic interactionist approach to deviance, including labeling and other theories


The learning activities for this section include:

  • Reading: Theoretical Perspectives on Deviance
  • Reading: Conflict Theory and Deviance
  • Reading: Symbolic Interactionism and Deviance
  • Self-Check: Theories of Social Deviance