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Social Class and Deviant Acts Essay

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Social Class and Deviant Acts Although the two readings, The Saints and the Roughnecks (Chambliss) and On Being Sane in Insane Places are extremely different, they both have one thing in common: After one has been socially labeled then the person will continue to act as they have been labeled. While there are many reasons as to why social labeling exists, social class is believed to be on of its biggest influences. Social class influences social labeling because the respect placed upon middle and upper class as opposed to the lower class.

Many examples of social labeling based on social class can be found in the reading, The Saints and the Roughnecks by William Chambliss. Also, the reading On Being Sane in Insane Places by D. L. Rosenham goes more in depth about social labeling and how major assumptions are often not backed up by correct data. In The Practical Skeptic, Lisa McIntyre defines social labeling as “not what you do, but who you are” (McIntyre, 187). Social class plays a major role in the reading by Chambliss.

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The reading goes in depth to talk about two groups of boys in a community- “The Saints” (upper class) and “The Roughnecks” (lower class). The Saints created multiple deviances weekly. Skipping class, drinking, theft, and vandalism. The Roughnecks, on the other hand, only created frequent disturbances, mostly involving theft and violence. These initial deviances are referred to by sociologists as primary deviances. (McIntyre, 189). Although the upper class group committed more deviant acts than the lower class group, the lower class group always seemed to get into the most trouble.

The community saw The Saints as a good group of boys that were headed for success. (Chambliss, 267), and they saw The Roughnecks as “tough, young criminals who were headed for trouble” (Chambliss, 270). Which is exactly what happened. Because of The Roughnecks being labeled as deviant, they became even more so. Sociologists refer to this as secondary deviance, people making problems because of their social labeling related to deviance. (McIntyre, 189).

The Saints and The Roughnecks had distinct different careers after high school that lived up to the expectations of the community, mostly all of The Saints graduated with college degrees while many of The Roughnecks are in jail. Chambliss says “when its time to leave adolescence most will follow the expected path” (Chambliss, 275) In the reading On Being Sane in Insane Places, Rosenham describes a conducted experiment involving a mental hospital. In this study, the diagnosis led to the symptoms observed by the psychiatric staff. ” (Rosenham, 283) This is because when people are labeled as something they then become that thing. (secondary deviance). “Behaviors that are stimulated by the environment are commonly misattributed to the patients disorder” (Rosenham, 280). Both of these readings give examples of how social labeling is a concept that can carry out through a persons’ entire life. Whether a misdiagnosed mental illness or a