SOCI 2445 Class Notes
What is deviant behaviour?
Look at behaviour within context.
Behaviour going against society/norms.
o Viewed deviant behaviour as those behaviours shown by those who were possessed,
practiced magic/sorcery, evil spirits.
Lombroso: Anybody that has a physiological difference (missing arm, differently shaped head)
Statistical definitions: Look at numbers—minority is usually deviant.
o Disease like behaviour
o Durkheim—crime is normal—what makes it pathological is when crime rates exceed the
state’s ability to control it.
Relativistic behaviour—rule breaking.
Dangerous behaviour—direct threat to society’s stability.
o People are perceived as harmless or dangerous.
o Determined by how someone acts.
o Defense mechanism.
Not just negative; also has latent functions.
o Clarifies rules—reactions aren’t immediate.
o Maintains rules.
o Modifies rules—making something illegal legal and vice versa.
o Reinforces boundaries for the status quo—we only take action when the behaviour
exceeds what we can handle/tolerate.
o Promotes solidarity and cohesiveness—reinforcing certain behaviours and bringing
people together when committing the same behaviour (i.e. smoking weed)
The way we respond to deviant behaviour changes over time.
What is classified as deviant depends on who the victim is and who the offender is and who
Rules are only enforced when there are certain consequences.
Positive aspects of deviance:
o Deviance tests rules and tests validity.
o Can elicit unwanted attention from authorities.
o Provides a safety value.
o Promotes solidarity.
o Scapegoating: as long as someone gets convicted—i.e. if you take the fall for something
you didn’t do and are used as an example.
o Raises the value of conformity—you’re more inclined to follow when you see others do
o Early warn