Subject: Law
Type: Reflective Essay
Pages: 2
Word count: 515
Topics: Stealing

Deviant is any conduct that diverges from the social norms and prospects. Every society is guided by formal and informal norms which are aimed at lessening deviant acts in the society (Deviant behavior. n.d).

I have chosen opportunity structure theory to elucidate more on the norm I broke. The opportunity structure theory states that deviance occurs when people have access to illegitimate opportunity structures where they can achieve through illegal activities what they may not achieve through traditional legal channels (Illegitimate opportunity structures: Social class and crime, n.d). This theory basically describes the illegal actions people take so as to satisfy their needs which they are not able to satisfy in a legal way. For instance, shoplifting is an illegal act according to societal norms, and it is often aimed at satisfying the needs of the one doing it. When one is not able to purchase a product from a store mainly due to lack of money, one may be tempted to shoplift. This complies with the opportunity structure theory where one is acquiring an item from a store illegally which is against the norms so as to satisfy needs. This is why this theory is fundamental in understanding the norm I broke. 

I chose shoplifting which violates norms. Shoplifting is a common act in most parts of the world. Shoplifting involves walking away from a store with an item that one has not paid for and this is illegal. Additionally, shoplifting is a common behavior among teenagers mostly due to peer pressure or even drug abuse

Normally, when one walks into a store, it is obvious that one has money to purchase the desired item. It is anomalous to walk into a store without money yet one wants to walk out of the store with an item. According to societal norms, shoplifting is an indecent act, and it has repercussions. For instance, if I shoplifted, it is obvious that after I get caught, I would get a cruel beating. However, instead of shoplifting, it is morally right I purchase the item I need. This is a legal way to acquire an item according to the societal norms. 

Shoplifting besides violating norms it is an illegal act. Acquiring an item from a store without paying for it is an absolute violation of the social norms. My act of shoplifting would be a norm-violating act and also a law breaking act. Shoplifters are punished in many ways including, beating, working in the store without getting paid, or even being taken to police custody. In my case, I got a lenient punishment since I was only forced to clean the whole store. 

Finally, the experience of shoplifting was so embarrassing and humiliating. Being yelled at by various individuals who came at the store was so shaming. This was the reaction I received for shoplifting. This act also falls in the category of criminal subcultures according to Richard Clowin. The subculture states that illegal activities are mostly the primary source of income. This correlates to my situation of shoplifting which is an illegal act.

Did you like this sample?
  1. Deviant behavior. (n.d). Retrieved from
  2. Illegitimate opportunity structures: Social class and crime. (n.d). Retrieved from
Related topics
More samples
Related Essays