Question Set 2: Theoretical Explanations Essentialism, and by extension positivism, is concerned with applying the scientific method to the study of
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Question Set 2: Theoretical ExplanationsThere are two parts to this question; please address both in your answer.

Essentialism, and by extension positivism, is concerned with applying the scientific method to the study of social phenomenon. Sociologists use a positivist approach to understand the nature and extent of deviance, and to try to explain "Why did they do it?" We may use a deductive approach—to collect data on a specific phenomenon from which we may develop a theory that we can further test and refine—or an inductive approach—to apply the basic elements or tenets of a theory to inform what we measure and how, and then evaluate how well the theory worked. Whether we use a deductive or inductive approach, much of our work in the area of deviance involves one or more theories.

  1. In general, what role does theory have in the study of deviance from a positivist perspective? In other words, what value does a theory or theories have in studying and explaining deviance?
  2. Select one of the forms of deviance listed below (or use your own example). Next, select one of the theories described in the text and discuss how that theory might help us understand and explain that form of deviance. Please be aware that not all of the theories will be equally useful in explaining each form of deviance; some may work better than others!
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Prostitution
  • Mental illness
  • Obesity
  • Substance abuse
  • Body modification (e.g. tattooing, piercing, etc.)

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