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Deviance isn ’t necessarily bad, it’s just different from what the group considers to be normal. For instance, a woman having a size 13 shoe isn’t bad , but it’s definitely different, so it may elicit a reaction from the group that makes up the majority (those with average shoe sizes). When sociologists use the term deviant , they are making a social judgment, not a moral one.
Without seeing deviant behavior, we would have a hard time classifying what is normal. It isn ’t until our group norms are challenged that we come together as a group to defend these norms. For example, the tragic events following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, challenged a norm that many people in the United States took for granted: safety. When those norms were challenged by the attacks, new policies and procedures were put into place (for instance, airport security) to preserve that norm. Image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Silhouette_of_Trio.png
We generally don ’t question why we comply with society’s norms. For instance, on the first day of class, everyone probably came into the room without thinking about it and just automatically sat down in one of the seats. Why do we use this arrangement? Could there be a better arrangement? At the grocery store, why do we use checkout lanes and cashiers? Could there be a more efficient system? We just go along with the status quo and don’t question why these systems are in place.
Ask the class: do you think we have more punitive justice or rehabilitative justice in the United States? What are the pros and cons of each? Rehabilitation has different degrees of success or failure depending on the crime committed, however, although rehabilitation is usually less expensive than incarceration, we tend to see more sentences of incarceration than rehabilitation. Why do you think this is? Are there certain crimes that you think should receive more rehabilitation that incarceration? (What about illegal drug use or possession?)
Earlier, we talked about norm breaching. We said that if you breach an important norm, you ’ll get a bigger response than if you breach a relatively unimportant norm. The response that you receive could be an informal social sanction. If someone tells you that you’re not supposed to act that way, dress that way, or talk that way, then they are trying to get you to conform to what they consider to be a norm.
If you think of the United States, we are a rather diverse group. However, if you think of smaller groups like college students at your school, you might find many similarities. In many societies, you can find examples of both mechanical and organic solidarity. Image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-N1113-0332,_Gro%C3%9F-Neutz,_Reparatur_einer_Futterm%C3%BChle.jpg
Strain theory, sometimes also called structural strain theory , acknowledges that there are certain goals that society deems acceptable. Ask your students if they can think of what these goals might be. Common responses include: a nice car, a big house, a family, a good job, lots of money, and so on. You may be able to discuss the “American Dream” and the idea that there is a common theme about what Americans should achieve to be called successful. Strain theory then discusses the difficulties that many people have in trying to achieve these goals. The frustration that occurs between knowing what the goals are and not being able to achieve those goals is the basis of Merton’s strain theory typologies.
These are the people who work hard in school, go to college, get a job, and save money because they want to buy a nice house, have a prestigious car, wear expensive clothes, and contribute to their retirement plans.
These are people who want all of the same things: nice house, prestigious car, expensive clothes, but they aren ’t interested in going to college and working their way up the company. For discussion, ask you class if they can think of examples. Some popular responses are: Bill Gates, who dropped out of college, drug dealers, and celebrities. They have all found different means to achieving the culturally accepted goals.
Ritualists don ’t seem to think about the goal or the big picture. Instead they live their lives day to day, paycheck to paycheck. They go to work, have a steady job, and so on, but they probably live in an apartment or in their parents’ basement. They don’t talk about career moves or retirement, they just keep doing their routine everyday. It’s generally difficult for students to think of popular examples of this category of people, because famous people generally don’t present themselves as ritualists. However, you can ask them if they can think of any characters in a movie or TV show who would fit this typology or if they have friends or relatives who may fall into this category.
Retreatists aren ’t interested in the goals, and they don’t follow the day-to-day routine to achieve the means either. Oftentimes, retreatists are withdrawn from the system completely. An example could be a hermit or a person who goes to the mountains to live with the wild goats. Students sometimes include people who are homeless in this category. While it is possible that a person would give up their home because they want to withdraw from the system, I always caution students about making that assumption because the majority of homeless people are not in their circumstance by choice.
Rebels are those people who don ’t accept the goals of society and disagree with the means of achieving them. That means that these people don’t covet lots of money, a fancy house, a nice car, or similar things.
Symbolic interactionists zoom in on the individual and try to figure out how a person interacts with others and how he or she responds to the surroundings. Image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Logviewer_bw.png
People unconsciously notice how others see or label them, and over time they internalize these labels and come to accept them as “truth.” People then behave in accordance to expectations surrounding the label they ’ve been assigned or that’s been assigned to another — in this way deviance is a social construct. Labeling a person can lead to that person acting out their label. This is especially true if that label is anchored or confirmed among many agents of socialization. (So, if a child is labeled as bad by the parent, and then by the school, and then at after school care, and then by friends, the label is more likely to become part of that individual ’s self-perception.)
Stigma can be physical, moral, or tribal. For instance, a physical impairment might stigmatize or devalue a potential employee from a workplace. A moral stigma could include character flaws – for instance, talking too much – which could devalue a person ’s input in a group setting. A tribal stigma could be based on membership to a discredited group, which could be a group that a person chooses to belong to like a club or an organization or a group that a person is born into, like a race or socioeconomic status. Just like deviance, stigma will depend on the culture and context.
Devah Pager discusses her field experiments, racism, and the stigma men with a criminal record face when they're on the job market. Does this stigma increase the recidivism rate?
Do you think that people would be more likely to vandalize a car in a “rundown” neighborhood than in a gated community? This theory tells us that they would – but not because there are more criminals in that area. Instead, people might be more likely to vandalize a car because in that context it looks like vandalism is more acceptable.
Your friend might tell you, “Don’t drive so fast, you’re going to get pulled over.” While your friend doesn’t have the authority to make you drive slower, he or she is reinforcing the norm and reminding you of the formal social control that legally enforces that norm. Image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leggings_%28PSF%29.png
Again, deviance is referring to an act or behavior that is simply different from what the majority group typically does, and thus, it generally receives a negative response. In the United States, eating your guinea pig would be considered deviant because most people don ’ t do that, but in Peru, many people eat guinea pigs as a staple part of their diet. Eating or not eating guinea pigs isn ’ t wrong, but depending on the culture that you ’ re from, it can definitely be different than the group norm! Crime, though is a kind of deviance that is so offensive to society that it has been codified into law. The punishment for this kind of deviance could include a state-backed sanction, making this a worse punishment than for a non-criminal type of deviance.
Figure 6.2 Total U.S. Violent Crime Rate, 1960-2008
Figure 6.5 Size of Death Row Population since 1973
Figure 6.6 Number of Executions and Race of Prisoners Executed, 1976-2009
According to this theory, stiffer penalties, increased prison terms, and stricter parole guidelines should thus help reduce crime. Photo courtesy of AP Photo
There are numerous unintended consequences of deterrence theory that may ultimately result in increased recidivism. For instance, many critics argue that first-time offenders who commit petty crimes actually learn more about criminal activity while they are incarcerated. Additionally, after incarceration, it is harder to find work since your record now shows that you ’ve been convicted of a crime. This potentially makes crime a likely avenue since traditional employment is less available. While commitment to a total institution is supposed to help an individual learn to function as a productive member of society, there are many aspects of total institutions that lead to the opposite result.
The consequences of this mass incarceration include staggering costs, the disenfranchisement of millions of former felons, and a disproportionately high rate of imprisonment for black males, which has a ripple effect throughout black communities and beyond.
Figure 6.3 Homicide Victimization Rate, 1950-2008
Chapter 6 deviance and crime
What Is Social Deviance?• Social deviance is any transgression of socially established norms. – Formal deviance or crime involves the violation of laws. 8
Minor transgressions of these norms can be described as informal deviance. 9
Deviance and Social Control Social cohesion refers to the way people formsocial bonds, relate to each other, and get along on a day-to-day basis. 10
Deviance and Social Control• Social control is the set of mechanisms that create normative compliance in individuals.• Normative compliance is the act of abiding by society’s norms or simply following the rules of group life. 11
Deviance and Social Control• Punitive justice is focused on making the violator suffer and thus defining the boundaries of acceptable behavior.• Rehabilitative justice examines the specific circumstances of an individual transgressor and attempts to find ways to rehabilitate him or her. 12
Deviance and Social Control• Informal social sanctions: – are unspoken rules and expectations about people’s behavior. – help maintain a base level of order and cohesion in society and form a foundation for formal social control. 13
Deviance and Social Control (Structural Functionalism)Émile Durkheim theorized that social cohesion isestablished either through: mechanical solidarity — based on the sameness of society’s parts or members (fraternity – sorority) organic solidarity — based on the interdependence of specialized parts or members. (football team) 15
Deviance and Social Control A Functionalist View Robert Merton’s strain theory argues that deviance occurs when a society does not give all its members equal ability to achieve socially acceptable goals. 16
Strain TheoryConformists acceptthe goals of thesociety and themeans of achievingthose goals
Strain Theory Innovators accept the goals of the society, but they look for new, or innovative, ways of achieving those goals
Strain TheoryRitualists aren’tinterested in the goals ofthe society, but they doaccept the means ofachieving those goals.
Strain Theory Retreatists don’t accept the goals of the society or the means of achieving those goals.
Strain TheoryRebels don’t acceptthe goals of thesociety or the meansof achieving thosegoals, so they createtheir own goals usingnew means.
Weaknesses of Strain Theory1. It is difficult to empirically test.2. It works on the assumption that conformity is the norm and assumes a concensual society.3. It doesnt explain all forms of criminal behavior.4. It over-predicts criminality. does not explain hate-crime, violence etc 23
Symbolic Interactionist Theories of Deviance• Symbolic interactionists take a micro view of society, examining the beliefs and assumptions people bring to their everyday interactions to find the causes or explanations for deviance. 24
Symbolic Interactionist Theories of Deviance• Labeling theory – People see how they are labeled and accept the label as being “true.” – People behave the way that they think someone with their label should behave. 25
Symbolic Interactionist Theories of Deviance• Primary deviance: – the first act of rule breaking, which may result in the rule breaker being labeled “deviant” and thus influence how people think about and act toward him or her.• Secondary deviance: – refers to acts of rule breaking that occur after primary deviance and as a result of a person’s new, deviant label. 26
Symbolic Interactionist Theories of Deviance• Stigma – negative social label that changes your behavior toward a person; also changes that person’s self- concept and social identity – has serious consequences in terms of the opportunities made available – or rather, not made available – to people in a stigmatized group 27
Interview, Devah PagerCrime Reduction Devah Pager discusses her field experiments, racism, and the stigma menwith a criminal record face when theyre on the job market. 28
Symbolic Interactionist Theories of DevianceBroken window theory of deviance (Philip Zimbardo):explains howsocial context and social cues impact the way individuals act People who wouldn’t exhibit a certain behavior in one social context might do so in another context where the behavior seems more permissible. 29
People inspect an abandoned car in the South Bronx. Zimbardo placed this car inNew York City and University in Palo Alto, California. The car near Stanford wentuntouched for days, but the car pictured above was in New Your City wasrelieved of its hubcaps and other parts almost immediately.
Deviance and Social Control• Examples of formal social control include laws and the authority of police officers. 31
Formal deviance or crime involves the violation of laws. George Zimmerman Trevor Martin 32
Crime• street crime — refers to crime committed in public and is often associated with violence, gangs, and poverty• white-collar crime — committed by a professional against a corporation, agency, or other business• corporate crime — type of white-collar crime committed by the officers or executives of a company 33
Crime• It can be difficult to measure crime rates over time for a variety of reasons, including: 1. changes in how crimes are defined. 2. fluctuations in whether people report crimes. 3. in the case of murders, improvements in medical technology. CSI 34
Number of prisoners per 100,000 population. 35
Crime ReductionRecidivism occurs when a person who has been involved in thecriminal justice system reverts back to criminal behavior. 43
Crime ReductionSince the 1970s, there has been a change from a more rehabilitative sense ofjustice to a more punitive one in the United States.This is evidenced by historically high rates of incarceration. 44
Societal Effects of Mass Incarcerationhttp://www.youtube.com/embed/lUt_fIB6A_Y • staggering costs • the disenfranchisement of millions of former felons • a disproportionately high rate of imprisonment for black males • a ripple effect throughout black communities and beyond. 45