Sociological Imagination

She was brutally stabbed, eighteen times in front of her parents by her brother and cousin.After the court hearing where Samaira’s murderers were brought to justice, Nazir Afzal of the Crown Prosecution Service commented: Samaira was murdered because she loved the wrong person, in her familys eyes. It was an ‘honour killing to protect the perceived status of the family, to mark their disapproval. We hope the investigation and prosecution will deter others who may wish to harm family members because of practices that are as tragic as they are outdated.Furthermore, John Reid an inspector detective commented, If Samaira had come to us and told us there were difficulties at home or she felt threatened, we might have been in a position to help her. But the stringent conditions operating in such families would have prohibited her coming forward.1 Hence the young victim suffered a tragic fate. However what does this story mean in sociology?To understand Samaira’s story and her family’s behaviour one needs to understand a branch of sociology – Crime and deviance. The Sociological Imagination is the ability to look at one’s own problems as social issues and to connect these problems with the working of society. Hence personal troubles are in a way a social issue. Now in the case of deviant and/or criminal behaviour it needs to be measured in light with this definition of the sociological imagination. There are many theories of deviant behaviour in sociology. 2The more popular and highly regarded ones are ‘labelling theory’ by Howard S. Becker, ‘Strain theory’ by Robert K. Merton, ‘Differential Association’, ‘Functionalism’, ‘Conflict Theory’, ‘Medicalization of Deviance’, ‘Prosecution of Deviance’, ‘Media and Deviance’. All these theories individually explain and assess deviant behaviour. They have won criticism as well as appreciation. Becker’s ‘Labelling theory’ suggests that deviance is the result of deviant person being labelled deviant, internalising the label, and therefore the deviant party acts according to the label.

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