What is Deviance?
Any behavior, belief, or condition that
violates significant social norms in the
society or group in which it occurs
Interestingly – one who is considered
“deviant” by one category of people may
be seen as “conformist” in another group
We are all technically deviant at some
point or another in our lives.
The Nature of Deviance…
Ranges from criminal behavior (recognized by
almost all members of society as deviant) to
wearing heavy make-up (considered deviant by
some religious groups).
Incidents of deviance get a great deal of attention
because they involve prominent figures whose
behavior is broadcast on TV.
Lindsay Lohan Snooki
Not Always Clear Cut…
Deviance is not always so clear-cut because it is a
matter of social definition. Societies change and
evolve. Deviance varies from group to group,
society to society. We can see this within the
United States – laws differ from state to state.
When asked what constitutes deviant behavior in
the United States-answers included things like child
molesters, prostitution, drug addicts, religious
radicals, and criminals.
It also included liars, reckless drivers, bearded
men, artists, divorcees, smartstudents,
among other things.
Deviance and Stigmas
Stigmas: the disapproval attached to
disobeying the expected norms
Deviance Can Be Positive or Negative
Negative deviance is behavior
that fails to meet the accepted
norms-they reject the norms
(if the norm is to be thin, they
Positive deviance is overconformity to the norm-(if the
norm is to be thin, they are
From the Sociologist’s Viewpoint…
Sociologists generally reserve the term
deviance for violations of significant norms.
To a sociologist, a deviant person is one who
has violated one of society’s most valued
Informal deviance = minor
Formal deviance = crime
Crime = forms of deviance in which formal penalties
are imposed by society
All societies have ways of promoting order,
stability, and predictability in social life.
We assume people will stop for red lights,
waiters won’t pour soup in our laps…
Without social control, ways to promote
conformity to norms-social life would be
unpredictable, even chaotic.
There are two types of social control:
What is internal social
Control that lies within the
This is developed during
socialization - we learn what is
right and wrong
For example, the norm against
stealing has become a part of
most of us.
We have internalized this.
Other examples include norms
against killing and adultery.
What is external control?
For some, socialization does not ensure that all
people will conform
So for this reason, social control has to be based
on social sanctions-(rewards and
punishments designed to encourage desired
Positive sanctions can include an increase in
allowance, a promotion or a smile
Negative sanctions can include criticism,
fines, or imprisonment.
Sanctions can also be informal and formal
(formality depends on who is giving the sanction)
Sociological Deviance is…
Functionalism A source of
Conflict Theory Controlled and
defined by the
Inequality in society
Costs and Benefits of
stability and the way the
different parts of society
contribute to the whole.
that some deviance can
contribute to the smooth
operation of society.
What are some negative
effects of deviance?
Deviance erodes trust
If people expect certain things to happen
and they don’t, widespread suspicion and
If deviance is not punished or corrected,
deviance can cause others to misbehave
More Negative Effects of
Deviant behavior can be
It diverts resources both
human and monetary.
Police spend time dealing
with speeding, loitering,
drugs, etc. rather than
dealing with the more
How does social deviance benefit
Deviance clarifies what the norms are by
exercising social control to defend its
We define, adjust, and reaffirm the
When parents lose custody of their kids
for deviant behavior, it teaches the rest of
society was is expected.
More Benefits of Deviance
Deviance can also serve
as a temporary safety
Teen’s music, clothing,
and behavior is
behavior which may
serve to relieve some of
the pressure teens feel
from authority figures in
Deviance increases unity within a society
or group. When deviance remind people
of something they value, it strengthens
their commitment to the value. Bonds
Deviance promotes social change - Civil
Rights Movement and civil disobedience.
Riots too sometimes help bring reform.
Deviance provides jobs for those who deal
Robert Merton, a sociologist, created the strain
theory in 1968.
The strain theory is the theory that suggests
that deviance is more likely when a gap exists
between cultural goals and the means
(ability/way) to achieve these goals by
Strain Theory – The Norm
Our society stresses goals of success
and material possessions.
Education and hard work are the
accepted means to those goals.
When people accept these goals and
means, there is conformity.
How do people respond to strain?
Innovation- accepting the goal but using
illegal means to achieve it. This is the most
widely spread deviant response to the strain.
Ritualism- legitimate means are used but the
goals are rejected. People go through the
motions but don’t believe in the process.
Retreatism- reject means and the goals are
rejected. As if they drop out of society
Rebellion- reject success and the approved
means to get there, and they substitute a new
set of goals and means.
AN ACCEPT C onformity Ritualis m
S REJECT Innovation Retreatis
Re be llion
Travis Hirischi’s control theory says that
compliance with social norms requires us to have
strong bonds between individuals and society.
According to the control theory, social bonds
control the behavior of deviants. The more a
person is bonded with society, the more he will
follow norms. The less bonded, the less a person
will follow norms.
People conform because they don’t want to lose
face with family and friends.
What are the basic elements of
Attachment- stronger attachment leads to
Commitment- greater commitment to social goals
leads to conformity. (believe hard work leads to
Involvement- participation in social activities
increases the probability of conformity.
Belief- belief in norms and values leads to
Symbolic Interactionism and
How is Deviance
theory emphasizes the role of
primary groups in
We learn deviance through
The more that we are
exposed to those breaking
the law, the more apt we are
to become criminals
Three characteristics affect differential
The ratio of deviant to non-deviant individuals
-Someone who knows mostly deviants is more likely to
learn deviant behavior.
Whether the deviant behavior is practiced by
significant others - Someone is more likely to learn
the behavior from significant others.
The age of exposure - Younger children learn
deviant behavior more quickly than older children)
The Strain theory, Control theory, and
Differential Association theory help us
understand why deviance occurs.
The Labeling theory explains why
deviance is relative (when two people
break the same norm and only one is
Is deviance defined by the act
or by the individual?
Deviant behavior is always a
matter of social definition, but
there is a relativity to deviance.
For example: when a teenage
couple gets pregnant, the girl is
labeled the deviant because
society expects the female to set
the boundaries and to say “no”
Of course it is also easier to
stigmatize the girl because the
pregnancy is visible.
Labeling Theory and Class
Labeling theory also
explains why lower
class people go to jail
for stealing, whereas
middle class kids get
in trouble for
Society “expects” that
criminals are lower
class youths, not
middle class kids.
Are there degrees of
There is a distinction between primary
and secondary deviance.
Primary deviance means that a
person is engaged only in isolated acts of
EX: The vast majority of college kids
have never been arrested, convicted, and
labeled as criminals, but they have done
Another degree of variance
Secondary deviance, on
the other hand refers to
deviance as a lifestyle and a
The individual’s life is
organized around breaking
They identify themselves
and others label them as
Deviance becomes a way of
Are there consequences of
Stigmas are undesirable traits or labels
that are used to characterize a person.
One stigma may be your record, which is
then used to discredit the individual’s
Stigmas are almost impossible to
Deviance in the Industrial
To the Conflict theorist,
deviance in an industrial
society is behavior that
those in control see as
threatening to their
As a result, the powerful
and rich use their positions
to determine the acts of
deviance and how the
deviants should be
Conflict Theory Defense
The culture of the industrial society defends itself
using these statements:
“If you criticize an industrial society, you must be
deviant because you are criticizing our belief in
economic, political, and social ways.”
An industrialized society requires a work force, so if
“you don’t work, you are deviant.”
Those who threaten private property, especially that
owned by the rich, are prime target for punishment.
Because industrial societies need respect of authority,
any challenge to that is deviant (protests included).
Gender and Crime
Femininity Theory – “abuses suffered by
women are rooted in the patriarchal capitalists
[rich men] system”
Causes: gendered division of labor, and
socialization of children
Cultural attitude of crimes against women differ
based on the status of women in society.
Women are less often in a position to commit
crimes and often commit crimes that are
different from crimes committed by men.
Race, Ethnicity, and Crime
What is the relationship between
race, ethnicity, and crime?
Conflict theorists believe that minorities
get unequal treatment in the justice
They cite statistics that show African –
Americans and Hispanic – Americans
are dealt with more harshly than
Caucasian - Americans.
Even when the offense is the same,
minorities get harsher sentences and
serve more time in prison than
Caucasian – Americans.
African – Americans make up 12% of
the total population, but they account
for 43% of the inmates on death row.
Race, Ethnicity, and Crime (cont.)
Prosecutors are less likely to
seek the death penalty when
the victim is African - American.
Judges and juries are less likely
to impose the death penalty on
Caucasian - Americans.
Nearly half of all homicide
victims are African -American.
Yet, there is an overwhelming
majority of prisoners on death
row for killing Caucasian –
Americans not African Americans.
Race, Ethnicity, and Crime (cont.)
Why are different races and ethnicities
treated so differently?
Conflict theorists say that minorities get
harsher treatment because many don’t have
the resources to buy good legal services.
Another idea may be due to what sociologists
call: victim discounting- the process of
reducing the seriousness of a crime that
injures people of lower socio-economic status.
According to this idea, if the victim is less
valuable, the crime is less serious, the penalty
is less severe.
White Collar Crime
White-collar crime is a
financially motivated, economic,
non-violent crime committed for
illegal monetary gain.
White collar crime includes
things like price fixing, insider
trading, illegal rebates,
embezzlement, tax evasion,
What are the costs of white
The costs of white collar crime
are 18 times higher than the
costs of street crime according
the Depart of Justice.
Illegal work environments
(places that expose people to
toxic chemicals) account for
more than 1/3 of all workrelated deaths in the U.S.
Five times more Americans
are killed each year from
illegal job conditions than are
murdered on the streets.
What kinds of punishment do
the majority of white collar
It costs the taxpayers
billions of dollars every year
but many white collar
criminals are given very
Most is tried in Federal
court and probation is
granted 40% of the time for
anti-trust violations, 61% for
fraud, 70% for
If imprisoned, they get
shorter sentences, private
rooms and extra privileges.
Measurement of Crime
Crime- actions that violate the law.
How much crime is there in the United
One larceny (theft) every 4.5 seconds
One burglary (breaking in with intent to steal) every
One motor vehicle theft every 25.5 seconds
One aggravated assault every 36.9 seconds
One robbery every 1.3 minutes
One rape every 5.6 minutes
How are crime statistics
statistics comes from
the FBI’s “Uniform
Their stats come
What do UCR statistics
9 types of crime are tracked:
Murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault,
burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft,
arson, and hate crimes.
Violent and property crime have declined
The murder rate in the United States has
declined more than 39% since 1980.
One of the major reasons for the decrease
in crime rate includes a reduction in juvenile
How reliable are UCR
There are some limitations with the UCR:
It tends to over-represent the lower classes and
undercount the middle and upper classes.
Some crimes (minor assaults) are not as likely
to be reported to the police
About 2/3rds of crimes are not reported at all
Crime reports vary from place to place and
white-collar offenders are seldom included.
Are any other crime statistics
In response to these criticisms the National Crime
Victimization Survey was launched in 1970’s.
This is conducted twice a year by the Bureau of
Justice Statistics (Census Bureau)
It helps because it makes up for
underrepresented crimes and its surveys are
more scientifically sound. (methodology)
Together, both sets of statistics give a more
accurate account of crime.
Based on your notes....
Identify the different types of crime
List specific kinds of crime under that
Classify the severity of the crimes using
movie ratings (X, R, PG13, PG, G)
Assign a punishment
Juvenile crime refers
to violations from
those under 18.
make up the third
largest category of
What is the trend in juvenile
Violent juvenile crime reached its lowest level in
a decade in 1999.
Juvenile murder arrest rate dropped 68%
Arrests for juveniles with weapons declined by
Juvenile rape arrest went down by 31%
Why has the Juvenile rate gone
One reason-there has been a
decline in the demand for crack
Repeat violent offenders have
been given stiffer sentences.
Police have been cracking
down on illegal guns on the
Freakonomics Theory: Roe v.
Approaches to Crime Control
The criminal justice system is made up
of the institutions and processes
responsible for enforcing criminal statutes.
It includes the police, courts, and the
The justice system draws on four
approaches to control and punish
lawbreakers: deterrence, retribution,
incarceration, and rehab.
Does punishment discourage
The deterrence approach uses the threat of
punishment to discourage crimes because it
serves as an example for others.
Research is mixed on the effectiveness of this.
They have found that deterrence works IF
people know they are likely to be caught and
the punishment will be severe.
Does punishment discourage
However, in the United States, punishment for
crime is not usually certain, swift, or severe.
As a result, punishment does not have the
deterrence effect that it could have.
Capital punishment is a special case.
Over 4000 people have been executed in the
United States since 1930.
Even the death penalty does not deter crime, we
know this because the murder rates have remained
constant and have even dropped when the death
penalty has not been an option.
Do Americans believe capital
punishment deters criminals?
Yes, despite the findings, about
3/4th of us believe the death
penalty is a deterrent to crime.
3/4ths also say that they would
still favor the death penalty even
if they were confronted with
evidence that the death penalty
did not deter crime.
Feelings of revenge and
retribution appear to be the
reasoning behind this.
Approaches to Crime Control
Why does the attitude towards the death
Attitudes towards the death penalty vary according
to race and ethnicity.
75% of Caucasian – Americans support it
40% of African – Americans support it
52% of Hispanic – Americans support it
The discrepancy is understandable considering
that African – Americans and Hispanic – Americans
are more likely to get the death penalty than
Caucasian - Americans.
What is retribution?
A type of
intended to make
the criminals pay
Why does society keep
criminals in prison?
The basic idea behind incarceration –
keeping prisoners in jail is so that they
cannot commit more crimes.
Revenge and/or retribution
Remove dangerous individuals from society
Do prisons rehab criminals?
Rehab is an approach that
attempts to re-socialize criminals.
Most prisons have programs
aimed at helping criminals rehab
provide both work and social skills
that will help them assimilate back
Unfortunately, 30 to 60% are sent
back to prison in 2-5 years.
The criminal return rate is called
The reasons for recidivism?
The basic nature of the offenders
Influences learned from the more
The stigma of being an ex-convict
Inside the prison sub-culture, there
is an “inmate code” that stresses
loyalty among inmates.
The toughness learned in prison is
then sometimes transferred to the
What are some alternatives to
If prisons do not rehab, then what?
A combination of prison and probationa mix or split sentence known as “shock
probation” prisoners serve part of their time
in an institution and the rest on probation.
The hope is that the shock of prison life would
deter someone from committing crime again.
What are some alternatives to
Community based programs- designed to
reintroduce criminals into society. They get out
of prison for at least part of the day and
become a part of the community under
guidance and supervision.
Diversion strategy- a referral to a
community based program rather than to
prison. The offenders are handled outside of
the criminal justice system and are not labeled.
Will any of the alternatives work?
They have not yet
gans have taken a
harsher view towards
criminals, so support
for alternatives may