State Power in the Sociological Study of Deviance | Free Essay Example

State Power in the Sociological Study of Deviance

Words: 838
Topic: Sociology

The purpose of this paper is to establish the connection between the state power and the sociological studies of deviance. The objective will be achieved by several steps. Firstly, I will give the definition of the power in sociological context and the power of the state. Secondly, I will determine how deviance is studied by sociologists. Lastly, the influence of the state power in the deviance sociological studies will be determined.

In sociology and the science of administration of the government, power is the capability to impact the way an individual behaves (Henslin, 2012). The concept of ‘authority’ usually is applied if the social structures discerned the influence on people’s behavior as legitimate. The authority is acknowledged to be vernacular to people as a part of social structure though it can be interpreted as biased and corrupt. There had been various sociological discussions recently about the methods of enabling the power; to be precise, power has to be a method of both making social operations achievable and preventing them if needed. The philosopher Michel Foucault saw “power as a structural expression of a complex strategic situation in a given social setting that requires both constraint and enablement” (Power, 2015, para. 3).

According to ‘Sociology: Themes and perspectives, 5th edition’, “the state consists of a number of institutions, including the legislature which decides on law making, a government administration to administer those laws, a judiciary, and a legal system and police force to interpret and enforce the law, as well as the military force responsible for the protection of the state from external, and sometimes internal, threats such as terrorism. Often sociologists will include other publicly administered institutions in their definitions of the state, such as the education, health and welfare systems, public transport, urban planning and development, sanitation, water management and so on” (Van Krieken, Habibis, Smith, Martin, & Maton, 2014, p. 336).

So, what is state power? Nowadays capitalistic democracy implies the term of ‘state power’ as something essential in the current society. Michael Mann (1984) claims that state power is the ability of the government to infiltrate the civilian community and enforce political arrangements through the domain (p. 187). Moreover, this scheme is widely spread in the industrial communities.

The science of sociology defines deviance as processes that contravene with generally accepted norms of society. It is within the domain of sociologists, psychologists and psychotherapists to research the formation of these norms, their advance with time and their application and enforcement. By observing deviance as an infraction of social standards, the sociologists gave it the following description: “any thought, feeling, or action that members of a social group judge to be a violation of their values or rules or group conduct, that violates definitions of appropriate and inappropriate conduct shared by the members of a social system” (Deviance, 2015, para. 3).

Weber identified that the nature of the hierarchical bureaucratic machine with its rational procedures can only be challenged by values parties of similar structure in the form of politics (Van Krieken et al., 2014). Moreover, Weber considered the bureaucratic structure as fundamental regarding the execution of power in the contemporary community. The state has legitimate authority to restrict the liberty of its citizens. Citizens who go against the laws set forth by the state are subject to the state’s punishment. This statement is depicted in the ‘Sociology: Themes and perspectives, 5th edition’: “state formation was precisely the development of a monopoly over the right to use force by legitimate central authority, making other forms of violence illegitimate and subject to state control. So only the state is meant to wage war or have the capacity to restrain people’s liberty and put them in prison” (Van Krieken et al., 2014, p. 336).

We can use the power of the state in Australia as an example: the Australian political practice had always been stationed around its roots as a felon nation (Wilson, 2008). Therefore, the Australian state has always held a leading position in the political culture of Australia (Smith, 2008). Furthermore, Bessant (2008) acknowledges the study of Norbert Elias, who claimed policy making to be one of the human instruments, recognizing the collective and social nature at the same time as well.

While discussing the importance of state power in the sociological study of deviance, we can refer once again to the ‘Sociology: Themes and perspectives, 5th edition’. Van Krieken claims that the state power in the context of deviance is able to debate over the examples of social movements. Moreover, a democratic concern that addresses the power of the state can regulate the concerns of the social party.

As a conclusion, I could say that the primary goal of the essay was achieved. I have determined the basic concepts that relate to the topic of the paper. Moreover, the relations between the power of the state and the sociological study of deviance have been established. I have listed the sources that helped me to evaluate the topic of the paper below at the reference page.


Bessant, J. (2008). The sociology of policy-making in the modern state: Intent and human action. Journal of Sociology, 44(3), 283-300. Web.

Deviance. (2015). Web.

Henslin, J. (2012). Essentials of sociology: A down-to-earth approach (10th ed.). London, United Kingdom: Pearson PLC.

Mann, M. (1984). The autonomous power of the state. Its origins, mechanisms and results. European Journal of Sociology, 25(2), 185-213. Web.

Power (social and political). (2015). Web.

Smith, P. (2008). Durkheim and criminology: Reconstructing the legacy. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 41(3), 333-344.

Van Krieken, R., Habibis, D., Smith, P., Brett, Martin, G., & Maton, K. (2014). Sociology: Themes and perspectives (5th ed.). Melbourne, Australia: Pearson Australia.

Wilson, J. (2008). Transgressive decor: Narrative glimpses in Australian prisons. Crime Media Culture, 4(3), 331-348.