Assessing Deviant Behavior in the Context of Social Stratification

According to Emile Durkheim, deviance serves a number of functional purposes in society, and is in fact both an important and necessary part of how society functions. In essence, Durkheim asserts that deviance provides a means by which the rest of society can measure its own norms. Deviance serves to affirm cultural values and norms, and helps to define moral boundaries (Macionis, 2012). Responses to deviance also help society bond together in their affirmation of the norms that restrict deviant behavior, while also helping to promote social change as some deviant behavior becomes acceptable through societal evolution (Macionis). Durkheim’s theory takes a largely structural-functional approach to understanding deviance, while other theories examine deviance through different perspectives. This paper will examine the use of marijuana and the ways that society is changing its views on the subject.