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Principles of Sociology 9
Deviance
Social Control
• We have already discussed the existence of norms in
society (Chapter 3). Now we want to ask: How does a
society make sure that its basic norms are followed?
• The answer to this is social control = a society’s
attempts – both formal and informal – to regulate the
thoughts and behavior of its members.
• We are all socialized to follow the expectations of our
society, and most of us follow most of those norms most
of the time.
Social Control
• informal social control = unofficial and casual means to
enforce norms.
• formal social control = laws or policies carried out by
official authorities.
– Laws can be universally applied to every member of society,
to only certain people, or to social institutions.
– The creation of laws can be controversial, and may not
necessarily reflect the values of everyone.
• conformity = behavior that goes along with social
expectations and norms.
What is Deviance?
• deviance = violation of cultural norms that is negatively recognized by
society.
– Includes the violation of either formal or informal norms.
– What is considered “deviant” can change with reference to:
• Time (EX: women smoking)
• Place (EX: food in different cultures)
• Perception (EX: sexuality)
• Situation (EX: killing others in crime vs. war)
– What is considered “deviant” can be influenced by those in power.
• Some people acquire a deviant identity, and society labels such people in a
way that tends to devalue them (called stigmas).
– Stigmas can also include labeling people based on past behaviors (such as “ex-
con”).
– Stigmas can change.
Behavior Vs. Identity
Deviant Behavior
Joe has way too much to drink
one Friday night and hops the
curb into his yard, vomits, and
passes out on his porch in full
view of his neighbors. Two
years later, he laughs about the
story with his neighbors at the
neighborhood Fourth of July
Barbeque. All of us engage in
deviant behavior at isolated
points of our lives.
Deviant Identity
Fred has way too much to
drink every Friday night,
typically driving up into his
front yard and passing out
on his front porch. Because
Fred behaves this way with
regularity, his neighbors
avoid him and feel sorry for
his family. Fred is
stigmatized as the
“neighborhood drunk.”
The Source(s) of Deviance
• Three Social Foundations of Deviance:
– Deviance varies according to cultural norms.
• No thought or action is inherently deviant.
– People become deviant as others define them that way.
• How others perceive and label us.
– Both norms and the way people define rule-breaking
involve social power.
• Rule-makers, rule-breakers, and rule-enforcers.
• Norms and applying them are linked to social position.
Why is it that street-corner gambling like this is
usually against the law but playing the same
games in a fancy casino is not?
Structural-Functionalist View
• Durkheim: deviance is rooted in such factors as rapid
social change and lack of social integration among
people, and is a necessary element of society.
– Durkheim's basic insights:
• Deviance affirms cultural values and norms.
– There can be no good without evil and no justice without crime.
• Responding to deviance clarifies moral boundaries.
– A boundary between right and wrong.
• Responding to deviance brings people together.
– People typically react to serious deviance with shared outrage.
• Deviance encourages social change.
– Deviant people push a society's moral boundaries.
Structural-Functionalist View
• When social control fails, a society risks a state
of anomie.
– Anomie typically occurs in periods of significant
social change and unrest.
– People become more aggressive or depressed,
resulting in high crime and suicide rates.
– Further, “deviance” becomes harder to define and
social control harder to maintain.
Structural-Functionalist View
• strain theory (Merton) = extent and type of deviance depend
on whether a society provides the means to achieve cultural
goals.
– Merton’s 5 Basic Adaptations:
1. Conformity (non-deviant) – accepts both the normal means and goal.
2. Innovation (deviant) – agrees with #1 on the goal, but rejects the normal
means.
3. Ritualism (deviant) – agrees with #1 on the means, but rejects the goal.
4. Retreatism (deviant) – rejects both the normal means and the normal
goal.
5. Rebellion (deviant) – replaces the normal means & goal with new means
and a new goal.
Structural-Functionalist View
• Opportunity Theory (Cloward & Ohlin):
– illegitimate opportunity structures = circumstances
that motivate certain deprived people to
illegitimately acquire (through crime) what they
cannot acquire legitimately.
– For deviance to occur, people must have access to
such opportunities over against legitimate
opportunities.
Structural-Functionalist View
• THEORY: Delinquent Subcultures (Cohen):
– The lack of an ability to compete, creating a
situation of “haves” and “have-nots,” called a
blocked opportunity structure.
– Various subcultures may develop in reaction to
this:
• Criminal (property and wealth focused)
• Conflict-Oriented (violence focused)
• Retreatist (withdrawal from society in some way)
Conflict View
• Conflict theorists view “deviance” as a negative label imposed
on less powerful members of society by elite powers.
• differential justice = differences in the way social control is
exercised over specific groups.
– This has been in the news continually for a couple of years as police
shootings have come under scrutiny by groups like Black Lives Matter.
– However, this is also an issue in court rooms, as some minorities
(especially males) are far more likely to get the worst sentences for
crimes.
– EX: Why are the penalties for powder cocaine (mostly in wealthier rich
neighborhoods) lesser than those for crack cocaine (mostly in poorer
neighborhoods)?
Symbolic Interactionist View
• Inappropriate or inadequate socialization can
contribute to deviant behavior.
cultural transmission = deviant behavior is learned
through interaction with others.
differential association (Sutherland) = the process
through which exposure to favorable attitudes toward
deviant acts leads a person to deviant behavior.
Whether a person will follow norms or commit deviant acts
largely depends on the frequency and duration of interaction
with those who support the norms or those who encourage
deviance.
Symbolic Interactionist View
• control theory (Hirschi)
– Attachment: strong social attachments encourage conformity.
– Opportunity: the greater the access to legitimate opportunity, the
greater advantages of conformity.
– Involvement: extensive involvement in legitimate activities
inhibits deviance.
– Belief: strong belief in conventional morality and respect for
authority controls deviance.
• routine activities theory = deviant behavior results when
circumstances allow for it.
– In this perspective, it is all about motivation and opportunity.
Symbolic Interactionist View
• rational choice theory = deviant behavior
represents a rational decision where the
benefits are considered to outweigh the risks.
• social constructionist perspective = deviance is
simply a product of whatever culture we live
in, being constructed through our own
perceptions of what is considered normal and
abnormal.
Symbolic Interactionist View
• labeling theory = deviance and conformity
result not from what people do but how others
respond to those actions.
– Also called the societal-reaction approach.
– This approach focuses on the agents of social control
(police, judges, psychologists, etc.) rather than those they
label as “deviant.”
– stigma = powerful negative label that greatly changes a
person's self-concept and social identity.
Postmodernist View
• Postmodernists emphasize that the study of deviance
reveals how the powerful exert control over the
powerless by taking away their free will to think and act
as they might choose.
• Institutions such as schools, prisons, and mental hospitals
use knowledge, norms, and values to categorize (label)
and control people.
• Foucault’s Panoptican: a central tower that gave prison
guards complete observation of prisoners at all times –
since the prisoners didn’t know when they were being
watched, no one even had to be present – the knowledge
of the guards was used as a form of power.
Crime
• Many crimes go unreported, and only reported
crimes get tracked.
• victimization surveys = surveys of ordinary
citizens to determine if they have been the
victim of crime.
– National Crime Victimization Survey
• Surveys a nationally representative sample of
households about victimization experiences.
• Asks about nonfatal crimes, reported and not reported
to the police.
Crime
• Uniform Crime Report (UCR) = annual statistical source on U.S. crime
compiled by the FBI since 1930.
• index crimes = the eight major types of crime for which statistics are
tabulated annually by the FBI.
– murder
– rape
– robbery
– assault
– burglary
– theft
– motor vehicle theft
– arson
Types of Crime
 violent crime: actions involving threats or force (murder, rape).
 property crime: burglary, vehicle theft, larceny theft, arson.
 professional crime = pursued as a day-to-day activity.
 organized crime = an organized group supplying illegal goods/services.
 white-collar crime= “respectable” people committing crimes in the
course of employment activities.
 Corporate crime = criminal acts committed on behalf of a corporation.
 internet crime = use of technology to commit identity theft or fraud.
 victimless crime = crimes that lack a clear “victim” (EX: drug laws).
 transnational = crime that occurs across multiple national borders.
U.S. Criminal Justice System
• Due process: anyone charged with a crime
must receive …
– Fair notice of the proceedings.
– A hearing on the charges conducted according to
law and with the ability to present a defense.
– A judge or jury that weighs evidence impartially.
– The criminal justice system must operate according
to law.
– This principle is grounded in the Bill of Rights.
U.S. Criminal Justice System
• Police: primary point of contact between population and
criminal justice system who maintain public order by
enforcing the law.
• Officers quickly size up situations in terms of six factors.
– Gravity of situation
– Victim’s wishes
– Cooperation of suspect
– Suspect arrested history
– Presence of observers
– Suspect ethnicity/race
• racial profiling = using racial/ethnic background to identify criminal suspects.
• community-oriented policing = an approach in which officers build relationships with
those in the community and maintain regular public service meetings.
U.S. Criminal Justice System
• Reasons for Criminal Punishment:
–Four Possible Goals:
• retribution = punishment deserved.
• deterrence = inducing fear of punishment in the
public.
• social protection = preventing offenders from
repeating crimes.
• rehabilitation = restoring offenders to law-
abiding citizens.
The Death Penalty
• Less than half of all nations still allow criminals to be
put to death.
• U.S.: 36 states, the military, and the federal govt. still
allow the death penalty for selected offenses.
• Religious institutions are divided on the issue.
• 3 Crucial Questions:
– Is it appropriate to execute certain types of criminals?
– Does the death penalty actually deter crime?
– Can such a penalty be fairly applied given inequalities in
justice?
Death Penalty Worldwide

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Week 5: Deviance

  • 2. Social Control • We have already discussed the existence of norms in society (Chapter 3). Now we want to ask: How does a society make sure that its basic norms are followed? • The answer to this is social control = a society’s attempts – both formal and informal – to regulate the thoughts and behavior of its members. • We are all socialized to follow the expectations of our society, and most of us follow most of those norms most of the time.
  • 3. Social Control • informal social control = unofficial and casual means to enforce norms. • formal social control = laws or policies carried out by official authorities. – Laws can be universally applied to every member of society, to only certain people, or to social institutions. – The creation of laws can be controversial, and may not necessarily reflect the values of everyone. • conformity = behavior that goes along with social expectations and norms.
  • 4. What is Deviance? • deviance = violation of cultural norms that is negatively recognized by society. – Includes the violation of either formal or informal norms. – What is considered “deviant” can change with reference to: • Time (EX: women smoking) • Place (EX: food in different cultures) • Perception (EX: sexuality) • Situation (EX: killing others in crime vs. war) – What is considered “deviant” can be influenced by those in power. • Some people acquire a deviant identity, and society labels such people in a way that tends to devalue them (called stigmas). – Stigmas can also include labeling people based on past behaviors (such as “ex- con”). – Stigmas can change.
  • 5. Behavior Vs. Identity Deviant Behavior Joe has way too much to drink one Friday night and hops the curb into his yard, vomits, and passes out on his porch in full view of his neighbors. Two years later, he laughs about the story with his neighbors at the neighborhood Fourth of July Barbeque. All of us engage in deviant behavior at isolated points of our lives. Deviant Identity Fred has way too much to drink every Friday night, typically driving up into his front yard and passing out on his front porch. Because Fred behaves this way with regularity, his neighbors avoid him and feel sorry for his family. Fred is stigmatized as the “neighborhood drunk.”
  • 6. The Source(s) of Deviance • Three Social Foundations of Deviance: – Deviance varies according to cultural norms. • No thought or action is inherently deviant. – People become deviant as others define them that way. • How others perceive and label us. – Both norms and the way people define rule-breaking involve social power. • Rule-makers, rule-breakers, and rule-enforcers. • Norms and applying them are linked to social position.
  • 7. Why is it that street-corner gambling like this is usually against the law but playing the same games in a fancy casino is not?
  • 8. Structural-Functionalist View • Durkheim: deviance is rooted in such factors as rapid social change and lack of social integration among people, and is a necessary element of society. – Durkheim's basic insights: • Deviance affirms cultural values and norms. – There can be no good without evil and no justice without crime. • Responding to deviance clarifies moral boundaries. – A boundary between right and wrong. • Responding to deviance brings people together. – People typically react to serious deviance with shared outrage. • Deviance encourages social change. – Deviant people push a society's moral boundaries.
  • 9. Structural-Functionalist View • When social control fails, a society risks a state of anomie. – Anomie typically occurs in periods of significant social change and unrest. – People become more aggressive or depressed, resulting in high crime and suicide rates. – Further, “deviance” becomes harder to define and social control harder to maintain.
  • 10. Structural-Functionalist View • strain theory (Merton) = extent and type of deviance depend on whether a society provides the means to achieve cultural goals. – Merton’s 5 Basic Adaptations: 1. Conformity (non-deviant) – accepts both the normal means and goal. 2. Innovation (deviant) – agrees with #1 on the goal, but rejects the normal means. 3. Ritualism (deviant) – agrees with #1 on the means, but rejects the goal. 4. Retreatism (deviant) – rejects both the normal means and the normal goal. 5. Rebellion (deviant) – replaces the normal means & goal with new means and a new goal.
  • 11. Structural-Functionalist View • Opportunity Theory (Cloward & Ohlin): – illegitimate opportunity structures = circumstances that motivate certain deprived people to illegitimately acquire (through crime) what they cannot acquire legitimately. – For deviance to occur, people must have access to such opportunities over against legitimate opportunities.
  • 12. Structural-Functionalist View • THEORY: Delinquent Subcultures (Cohen): – The lack of an ability to compete, creating a situation of “haves” and “have-nots,” called a blocked opportunity structure. – Various subcultures may develop in reaction to this: • Criminal (property and wealth focused) • Conflict-Oriented (violence focused) • Retreatist (withdrawal from society in some way)
  • 13. Conflict View • Conflict theorists view “deviance” as a negative label imposed on less powerful members of society by elite powers. • differential justice = differences in the way social control is exercised over specific groups. – This has been in the news continually for a couple of years as police shootings have come under scrutiny by groups like Black Lives Matter. – However, this is also an issue in court rooms, as some minorities (especially males) are far more likely to get the worst sentences for crimes. – EX: Why are the penalties for powder cocaine (mostly in wealthier rich neighborhoods) lesser than those for crack cocaine (mostly in poorer neighborhoods)?
  • 14. Symbolic Interactionist View • Inappropriate or inadequate socialization can contribute to deviant behavior. cultural transmission = deviant behavior is learned through interaction with others. differential association (Sutherland) = the process through which exposure to favorable attitudes toward deviant acts leads a person to deviant behavior. Whether a person will follow norms or commit deviant acts largely depends on the frequency and duration of interaction with those who support the norms or those who encourage deviance.
  • 15. Symbolic Interactionist View • control theory (Hirschi) – Attachment: strong social attachments encourage conformity. – Opportunity: the greater the access to legitimate opportunity, the greater advantages of conformity. – Involvement: extensive involvement in legitimate activities inhibits deviance. – Belief: strong belief in conventional morality and respect for authority controls deviance. • routine activities theory = deviant behavior results when circumstances allow for it. – In this perspective, it is all about motivation and opportunity.
  • 16. Symbolic Interactionist View • rational choice theory = deviant behavior represents a rational decision where the benefits are considered to outweigh the risks. • social constructionist perspective = deviance is simply a product of whatever culture we live in, being constructed through our own perceptions of what is considered normal and abnormal.
  • 17. Symbolic Interactionist View • labeling theory = deviance and conformity result not from what people do but how others respond to those actions. – Also called the societal-reaction approach. – This approach focuses on the agents of social control (police, judges, psychologists, etc.) rather than those they label as “deviant.” – stigma = powerful negative label that greatly changes a person's self-concept and social identity.
  • 18. Postmodernist View • Postmodernists emphasize that the study of deviance reveals how the powerful exert control over the powerless by taking away their free will to think and act as they might choose. • Institutions such as schools, prisons, and mental hospitals use knowledge, norms, and values to categorize (label) and control people. • Foucault’s Panoptican: a central tower that gave prison guards complete observation of prisoners at all times – since the prisoners didn’t know when they were being watched, no one even had to be present – the knowledge of the guards was used as a form of power.
  • 19. Crime • Many crimes go unreported, and only reported crimes get tracked. • victimization surveys = surveys of ordinary citizens to determine if they have been the victim of crime. – National Crime Victimization Survey • Surveys a nationally representative sample of households about victimization experiences. • Asks about nonfatal crimes, reported and not reported to the police.
  • 20. Crime • Uniform Crime Report (UCR) = annual statistical source on U.S. crime compiled by the FBI since 1930. • index crimes = the eight major types of crime for which statistics are tabulated annually by the FBI. – murder – rape – robbery – assault – burglary – theft – motor vehicle theft – arson
  • 21. Types of Crime  violent crime: actions involving threats or force (murder, rape).  property crime: burglary, vehicle theft, larceny theft, arson.  professional crime = pursued as a day-to-day activity.  organized crime = an organized group supplying illegal goods/services.  white-collar crime= “respectable” people committing crimes in the course of employment activities.  Corporate crime = criminal acts committed on behalf of a corporation.  internet crime = use of technology to commit identity theft or fraud.  victimless crime = crimes that lack a clear “victim” (EX: drug laws).  transnational = crime that occurs across multiple national borders.
  • 22. U.S. Criminal Justice System • Due process: anyone charged with a crime must receive … – Fair notice of the proceedings. – A hearing on the charges conducted according to law and with the ability to present a defense. – A judge or jury that weighs evidence impartially. – The criminal justice system must operate according to law. – This principle is grounded in the Bill of Rights.
  • 23. U.S. Criminal Justice System • Police: primary point of contact between population and criminal justice system who maintain public order by enforcing the law. • Officers quickly size up situations in terms of six factors. – Gravity of situation – Victim’s wishes – Cooperation of suspect – Suspect arrested history – Presence of observers – Suspect ethnicity/race • racial profiling = using racial/ethnic background to identify criminal suspects. • community-oriented policing = an approach in which officers build relationships with those in the community and maintain regular public service meetings.
  • 24. U.S. Criminal Justice System • Reasons for Criminal Punishment: –Four Possible Goals: • retribution = punishment deserved. • deterrence = inducing fear of punishment in the public. • social protection = preventing offenders from repeating crimes. • rehabilitation = restoring offenders to law- abiding citizens.
  • 25. The Death Penalty • Less than half of all nations still allow criminals to be put to death. • U.S.: 36 states, the military, and the federal govt. still allow the death penalty for selected offenses. • Religious institutions are divided on the issue. • 3 Crucial Questions: – Is it appropriate to execute certain types of criminals? – Does the death penalty actually deter crime? – Can such a penalty be fairly applied given inequalities in justice?