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Static vs. Dynamic Theory Perspective

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: November 13, 1999
Latest update: July 4, 2004
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Index of Topics on Site Static vs.Dynamic Theoretical Interpretations

This definition draws on pp. 213-227 in Criminology Theory, by Williams iii, and McShane, Anderson Publishing.

A static interpretation of social theory perceives society as stable over time, as complying with our shared values, as based on general consensus, the consensus in which we agree how to get along together. Such an interpretation views deviance as disruptive, for deviance is non-normative behavior. This very conception of where deviance, and, hence, crime, fits in our overall social pattern, is like a jigsaw puzzle that leaves us only one place to fit the criminology piece - as outside the main picture and/or deisruptive because it doesn't fit the main picture.

A dynamic interpretation of social theory perceives society as constantly in flux, with people and institutions continuously renegotiating relationships, roles, and bonds. conflict is unavoidable in such social settings, for it reflects the myriad interest groups. The social structure is seen as dynamic for whichever group has greatest power at the moment is in a controlling position to place its values centrally and to define those values in accord with its interests. As power fluctuates new contexts are constantly created. Recall Foucault's position that power is all.

Another important aspect of the dynamic interpretation of social theory is the underlying philosophy of man's nature it presents. A dynamic interpretation sees man as active, not passive. Although our reality and our identities may be socially constructed, Quinney sees man as having control, as being able, in spite of all the social stimuli, to choose his actions. (Williams, III and McShane, at 216)

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