Posted by: vanhoff | April 3, 2008

Sociology: The Moral Enterprise of Howard S. Becker

             Moral enterprise refers to the processes involved in creating an awareness of issues and following them through into codified written laws. Howard S Becker states, “In order to define behavior, an act of enterprise is necessary.” In other words, a deviant act defined solely on the grounds of the behavior’s function is just a part of the definition; therefore, the reaction from the behavior helps define deviance as well. When defining sex between an adult and a minor, Becker states that a moral entrepreneur may help define and codify the behavior as deviant. A moral entrepreneur is someone who creates and/ or enforces moral conduct. This could be a public official to friends and family, and in the case of sexual deviance may include a child’s parent. 

               A conjectural image of a pedophile based upon readings by conventional societies, informal interviews and discussion one can composite an image of a pedophile as a dirty, dangerous “old men” who attack innocent children. In accordance to this view, pedophiles have neutralized or tried to reverse the moral enterprise. They create groups that seek in neutralizing stigmas; however, the moral entrepreneurs possess the powers that create laws governing such acts. However, one’s reaction to the behavior can have a profound effect on the violator. The sociologist have attempted to humanize the deviant as stereotypes are debunked and recognizing the sexual experience is located in the total experience of the individual, rather than being torn away from its social context. When labeling an individual as a pedophile, a reaction has occurred deeming the behavior as unacceptable.


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