According to Howard Becker, those who break an enforced rule and cannot be trusted to live by the rules
agreed on by a group are regarded as “outsiders”. These rule breakers may find that those who judge them
are the actual outsides.
In order to further comprehend Becker’s depiction of an outsider one must understand that deviance
according to Becker is a publicly labelled wrongdoing, and before anyone can be viewed as a deviant, and
before any group of people can be labelled and treated as outsiders for committing the act someone must
have made the rule which defines the act as deviant (156)
There are many views of deviance including the common-sense assumption that those who commit deviant
acts have a characteristic that make their actions inevitable or necessary (139); the statistical view which
defines deviance as anything that differs greatly from the average (140); and the pathological view of
deviance which assumes that deviance is to society what a disease is to the human body (140). Yet, according
to Becker deviance is a failure to obey group rules. However a society has many groups, with different rules,
and with people part of various different groups concurrently. (142) Thus Becker claims, instead of viewing
acts of deviance as a product of a person’s social factors, deviance should be seen as the products of social
groups who make the rules who infractions constitute deviance. So deviance is not a quality of the act the
person commits, but rather a consequence of the application of other people’s rules and sanctions, to who
one is labelled “an offender”
Deviance is a product of a process which involves the responses of other people to their behaviour.
Ultimately, the classification of whether an act is deviant or not depends on the nature of the act, whether it
violates some rule, and to some extent what other people do about it. While one aspect of deviance is the
violation of a rule, a rule is the creation of a specific social group, and while it is argued that most rules are
generally agreed to by all members of society, empirical evidence reveals a variation in people’s attitudes
towards such rules. People are in fact forcing their rules on others without their consent, which is why a
person may feel that they are being judged according to rules they played no role in making and generally do
not accept but are forced to conform to due to outsiders.
These “outsiders” who create these rules tend to be in a social position wherein they have the weapons and
power best able to enforce their rules (147) These rule creators or moral entrepreneurs are typically
unsatisfied with existing rules and feel that nothing can be right in the world if rules are not made to change
them. They believe that by following their rules, others will better themselves, and that their rules will help
those “beneath” them achieve a better status. These moral entrepreneurs are typically those in the upper
levels of the social structure, and thus use their upper class position to further legitimize their moral position
(149) Once a rule creator has successfully established their new rule, and they have fulfilled their role, they
are out of a job. However in order for a moral entrepreneur to be truly successful they require the assistance
of appropriate enforcement machinery. Sometimes, existing agencies and officials take over the
administration of the new rule, however more commonly a new set of enforcers are established.
Ultimately the final outcome of this enforcement is the involvement of the police force. As enforcers, they
may not be entirely interested in the content of the rule but more in the notion that the existence of the rule
provides them with a job. Thus they have 2 justifications when it comes to the activity of their enforcement,
firstly they must justify their position, and secondly they must win the respect of those that they deal with.
Since the rule enforcer is likely to believe it is necessary for the people to respect him/her, a good deal of
their enforcement is devoted to coercing respect from the members they enforce. Ultimately, whether or not
the enforcer enforces the rule or not, their actions towards the rule breaking behaviour is greatly dependent
of the attitude the offender shows towards them (154) In conclusion, whether a person commits a deviant
act is labeled as a deviant or not depends on many things unrelated to their actual behaviour such as
whether the enforcement officer chooses to take action and legitimize their position, whether the
misbehaver shows proper deference to the enforcer, and whether the act the offender has committed is
important enough for it to be on the enforcers list of priorities.
According to howard becker, those who break an enforced rule and cannot be trusted to live by the rules agreed on by a group are regarded as outsiders . These rule breakers may find that those who judge them are the actual outsides. Yet, according to becker deviance is a failure to obey group rules. So deviance is not a quality of the act the person commits, but rather a consequence of the application of other people"s rules and sanctions, to who one is labelled an offender . Deviance is a product of a process which involves the responses of other people to their behaviour. Ultimately, the classification of whether an act is deviant or not depends on the nature of the act, whether it violates some rule, and to some extent what other people do about it.