Module 7 SOC345 Final Observation Paper


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Deviant behavior is a phrase that typically describes the behavior that is not normal or is anti-social to in a harmful way. It could also be associated with divergent behavior. Identifying and analyzing deviant behavior in a group or setting requires a through observation that focuses on noting deviant behavior in a setting. Such settings could include busy streets, malls churches, airports, public parks, and restaurants.

Observing individuals in as setting may result in the identification of both normative behaviors as well as deviant behavior.  Other behaviors include confirmative behavior   Additional sources of evidence-based reasoning can be acquired from scholarly work who share a similar idea that supports the observation. In the context of this paper, behavior is considered deviant if it violets the social norms in a culture. Three approaches have delved into the study of the observation of deviant behavior. This includes psychological, sociological and biological approaches.

The sociology approach in the observation of deviant behavior provides the most elaborate information on why individuals exhibit deviant behavior in a particular setting.  In fact, observation is a critically important topic in the study of sociology.  The analysis of the observation in this paper shall be based on the variance deviant behaviors like sagging pants, tattooing, crying, excessive laughter, and charter exaggerated at an airport.  The paper shall identify and observe various deviant behaviors and apply knowledge learnt from coursework to analyze them.

Defining deviant behavior.

The deviant behavior is a complicated task that requires a broad understanding of varying viewpoints.  However, a deviant behavior associated with the social norm is relative. He argues that deviant behavior occurs such as sagging pants are social norms whose violation is relative and based on the setting and varying viewpoints. One of the leading proponents of the labeling theory Howerd Becker (1932), asserts that deviant behavior is the failure of individuals to conform to customary societal norms. Wickman (1991), also notes that deviant behavior is that which violates the standards of conduct in a society or a group. Therefore, the non-conformity to a particular set of norms acceptable amongst a significant number of individual in a particular setting is considered as deviant behavior. Based on these definitions, it is important to note that deviant behavior is a relative understanding that may vary depending on society’s accepted rules of behavior.

Identifying the settings and describing the setting group in conducting observation

The project is based on observation of deviant behavior among people in an airport setting. The observation project will be carried out three times a week for about four weeks.  Airports are characteristic of a highly mobile population that is in constant motion. This may make the setting quite busy. They are also well-guarded. This means that aimless movement may be detected and thus interrupt the general innocence required during an observation exercise. It will, therefore, be prudent to choose a specific point to sit and observe people in the airport. Identifying a location without visual obstructions will facilitate the recording of unusual behaviors and many other actions that are out of the ordinary.

The unique aspect experienced in an airport is that it is always bustling with people at the port terminal. As people leave and others come in for their flights all through day and the night, it is a perfect set up that is served with consistent set of diverse population of individuals. This makes the observation project competitive as the observation is based on a population from varying cultures and set of values.

Observing deviant behavior within an airport set up is supposed to be conducted without interruption. Clifton Bryant’s   Readings in the Sociology of Norm Violations on Deviant Behaviour emphasizes that the ideal set up in observing deviant behavior is a setup that offers the most diverse integration of a population. Coincidentally, the airport meets the criteria outlined by Clifton Bryant.

Identifying the deviant behavior

Sagging is one of the deviant behavior in modern day (Goode, 2017). As a deviant behavior sagging is identified as deviant behavior because it fails to meet the standards of decent dressing. Though Goode argues that sagging does not forbid any order to maintain a sense, it is fair to state that what people wear because is an essential aspect of building a person’s  image. It is justifiable to state that individual’s dress code defines the character of the individual. This is because 89 % of human communication is through nonverbal communication (Alberts et al, 2011).Society judges a book by its cover. In similar thought, wearing saggy pants constructs negative aspect of an individual.

Without doubt, the question of how wearing sagging pants is considered as deviant behavior.  A study conducted by the anthology of readings, established that sagging was considered offensive to 7 out of 10 individuals in the United. In fact, the Jurisdiction of Rivera Beach criminalized the wearing of sagging pants on the argument that it constituted indecent exposure.

At the airport, it was observed that the tendency to sag pants was more prevalent among young adult males within an estimated age gap of sixteen to thirty.   Charles Journal on Saggy Pants and Exposed Underwear states that though saggy pants originate from prisoners, youth have adopted sagging pants as a signature style of dressing.  Charles insists that saggy pants have been received just like all other fashion trends. However,  in towns such as New Jersey and Florida, the authorities passed laws that prohibited young males from sagging pants in public recreation facilities. Though sagging has been criticized, the history of American youth considered it as one of the iconic fashion trends and has continually been embraced by young men.

The reaction of the security team at the airport resonates with the argument that Individuals in the society judges other individuals based on what they utter and wear. As seen in the airport, the wearing of saggy pants was interpreted as a negative aspect of individuals. Suffice to say, the deviant behavior easily caused stigma of associating sagged pants with crime. It is this stigma that ultimately led to the infraction of their freedom of privacy and trough scrutiny (Bridges, 2014)

The observation asserted Bridges’ claim that individuals are considered deviant if their actions fail to meet the standards of their immediate setting even when the laws have not been violated. Saggy pants have in the past been associated with criminality. However, it is important to note that criminals and school dropping are not in any way associated with sagging pants.  Indeed, there are reasons beyond wearing saggy pants that make individuals criminal category.

Anomie theory by Emile Durkheim

The Anomie theory by Emile Durkheim is a sociological theory of deviance that suggests that individuals are disconnected from society since they feel that norms are an inadequate form of human behavior.  According to Durkheim, human actions are considered criminal if they shock the common conscience. Durkheim’s theory analyzed the interactions and behaviors of groups of people.  The theory delves into an analysis of how sociology uses behavior patterns to predict deviance from social order.  The theory describes social disorder as the availability of knowledge and societal expectation. In it, Durkheim argues that in a society where the expected behavior is uncertain, deviant behavior resulting in criminal activity result because of lack of expectations. Durkheim proposed that in an industrialized society, individuals work in anomie where social hierarchies are structured in economic merit.  Otherwise, crime and deviant behavior increases.

The theorist proposed that social facts as a critical subject of sociology.  He defined social facts as patterns of behavior that exercised coercive power on people. He established controls on the conduct of social norms. Social facts are identifiable through the power of external coercion that they exert on people (Durkheim, 1982).

Phenomenological theory:

As a modern theory of deviance phenomenological theory evaluates the peoples’ subjective interpretation of personal experiences as a key factor in understanding deviant behavior.

History of the deviant behavior

The history of deviant behavior originates from the United States prison system (Klemke, 2016). Prisoners were not allowed to wear belts. This was meant to prevent prisoners from using belts to commit suicide.  It soon became a unique style that was later adopted by the hip-hop culture e in the 1990s.  It became a symbol of values for those who felt rejected in America’s mainstream culture.

Backing up sagging is the familiar origin myth is the fact that all convicts who wore sagging prison-issued uniforms carried the culture out of prison to the outside. Another myth emanates from the belief that prisoners sagged their pants as a communication to other inmates that they were sexually available.

Sagging was also associated with young brown kids who wore baggy clothes.  According to Agnew and & Kaufman (2010) street crime is older than sagging and hip-hop street cultures. In the 1930s, blacks in California began wearing oversize pants. They were popularly known as zoot suits. Luis Alvarez, a historian at the University of California, argued in his book   The Power of the Zoot, that the origins of sagging were murky.  Since the 1950s, sagging remains stigmatized all these decades later and has lost its uniqueness to rankle even among the young the male adults.

Analyzing the sagging as a deviant behavior

In today’s society, men are judged against how they wear clothes,  more specifically, their pants.  To a group of individuals in Californian’s San Diego, sagging pants is still viewed as a fashion statement. However, to the general public, especially the elderly members of the American society, sagging is perceived as a bad habit. In a recent survey by the University of California, on the perception of the public on sagging pants, 97 % of elderly female in the age of 60 years and above believed that those who sagged their pants were criminals. In some States such as California, sagging pants is still prohibited by law. Scholars in fashion design have however argued that such laws ought to be eradicated because they are discriminatory. They say that what one wears is a personal decision that the community should have little say.

The enactment of law that dictates on sagging discriminates and profiles those it perceives as gangsters.  However, as Alvarez (2009), reveals, the law should not dictate how one wears clothes.  It can be argued that any form of stigma against those who sag pants is a violation of the first amendment to the freedom of expression.

The sagging of pants in places like Neptune is also based on sagging as a fashion statement. However, for Neptune’s case, the authorities have not felt the need to make the wearing of sagging pants illegal. The county has however encouraged educators and parents to discourage sagging of pants strongly. Unlike all many other local authorities, members of the Neptune community believe that by trying to dictate individual dressing style is an overreach for the government.   With such stand from the public, Neptune’s local authority retaliated that sagging pants was a sign of sexually sexual behavior that should not be tolerated.


Analysis of observation technique

Conducting the observation of sagging as a deviant behavior among a population of individuals in an airport requires that the observer avoids influencing the behavior of those being observed. According to Bartels and Richard’s   The Routledge Handbook of Qualitative Criminology openly announced observation projects would not be effective in observing illegal behavior. In such observation projects, deviant behavior should observe how people in a particular setting behave (Bartels and Richards, 2011)). It is important to note that what is considered deviant behavior can be normative among a group people in a different setting. For instance, within a large group of cigarette smokers, smoking is considered normative.  Surprisingly, failure to smoke is considered deviant.

There is simple approach that can be used in establishing deviant and normative behavior. The statistical approach is one of the simple approaches that is used by social scientists.  However, scholars have established that statistical patterns are superficial in reflecting how social groups perceive normative behavior.  For instance, United States culture does not classify behaviors tattooing, alcoholism and abstinence from premarital sex as deviant (Bridges, 2014). It follows that, even though they are considered as unusual behavior, an underlying agreement makes the behaviors acceptable. They are in fact considered as normative ways of behavior while individuals grow.  On the other hand,   most individuals endorse the inappropriateness that is atypical negatively and undesirably. It can also be argued that normative standards of behavior revolve around the notions of rightness and wrongness.

Carrying out this project in an airport offers a public environments that is characteristically frequent with individuals from diverse cultures and backgrounds. In the airport, observations will take three times a week for about four weeks. Finding the easiest way to observe people in an airport is not a simple task. Airports are characterized to be very busy and well-guarded. Observations were made by seating at a distinctively identified location and observing male adults between the ages of eighteen to twenty one. The location offered a clear view of the aisle, the visitors lounge, and the reception area without any visual obstructions. The aim of the project was to identify and Observe deviant characters of sagging among as an unusual      Employing the use of surveillance camera in monitoring of deviant behavior  for the purpose of observing can be done on an electronic equipment. Surveillance videos are done in real time. Staging cameras at strategic locations is done where people in the airport are not able to notice.

Careful attention is paid to handling of Surveillance videos. Since the early 1990s, cameras have played a critical role in places such as cities and beyond. CCTV surveillance cameras have mainly been used as crime-reduction strategy.  The activation and use of cameras for purposes of observation has a regulatory restriction that tends to govern its function. This is because of the characteristic passivity that they are viewed.

Recorded images allow the observer to revisit the videos and re-evaluate human behavior in   controlled urban space. Regulatory powers that govern the management of surveillance camera require that the purpose for which the surveillance cameras should perform.  The different purpose that cameras   access images for subjects access request (SARs). By the end of the project the images can be printed for individuals from the airport and used to study and take note of the deviant behavior among the population at the airport



Disguised observation technique

The individuals in the airport were not aware that they were being observed. The technique is known as disguised observation. Persons in disguised observation project act natural, therefore, making the information collected a more accurate reflection of the actual reactions. Recording behavioral information that is normally private to a researcher is the primary concern in a disguised observation.   However, observing individual’s deviant or normative behavior in a public setting such as an airport is no longer private.

On the other hand, a non-disguised observation alleviates ethical concerns (Klemke, 2016). In non-disguised approach, the subjects are aware that they are watched. This approach works be effective when observational techniques are used together with a survey technique. Non-disguised observation technique allows the researcher to acquire deeper information in order to get deeper information on the behavior of the subject.









Agnew, R., & Kaufman, J. M. (2010). Anomie, Phenomenological and subcultural theories of crime. Farnham: Ashgate.

Alberts, J. K., Martin, J. N., & Nakayama, T. K. (2011). Communication in society. Boston, MA: Pearson.

Alvarez, L. (2009). The power of the zoot: youth culture and resistance during World War II. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Bartels, L., & Richards, K. (2011). Qualitative criminology: stories from the field. Annandale, N.S.W.: Hawkins.

Bridges, G. S. (2014). Deviant behavior: an anthology of readings. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Charles, C. A. (2013). Saggy Pants and Exposed Underwear: The Politics of Fashion and Identity Transactions. SSRN Electronic Journal.

Goode, E. (2017). Deviant behavior. Place of publication not identified: Routledge.

Klemke, L. W. (2016). Deviant modes of adaptations to a deviant involvement. Deviant Behavior, 9(3), 225-239.


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