Sociology of Deviance
WEEK 1 - January 5 /2017
- Usually associated with the people who are different or weird, the people that go against the
- Can also be associated with people who are above and beyond what the rest of us are, such as
great artists or writers.
- Deviance term can apply to many different types of people.
- Things that are deviant can change over time
- Daryl believes that Ottawa is a Deviant city, because we are not a proactive city, we wait
usually until shit hits the fan
- Safe injection sites were not set up to reduce drug use.
There are different ways of looking at deviant behaviour and there are different definitions of
1. Demonology: (Demons or demonic belief//spirits)
- Can be seen in the plays of Shakespeare
- The idea that there is a belief in evil spirits and witchcraft
- If you were possessed you were deviant and that must mean that you are possessed by an evil
- The Good sprit on one shoulder and the evil one on the other
2. Anyone that has a physical defect (Physical Defects)
- I.e they have large ears or a large forehead
- People are view as deviant, because they have a physical defect
3. Statistical Definition
- Anything that varies widely from the norm or whatever the average is
- Ex. We may look at how many people have brown hair and how many have red, and if the
majority is brown we may consider people with red hair to be deviant.
4. Pathological Definition (Pathology) (People who are mentally/physically ill)
- Presence of a disease
- you apply this to mentally ill people as they are seen as sick, therefore they are labelled as
- Emile Durkheim stated that all societies have crime. There is a normal amount of crime that
society can control, but once it gets too big for society to control it becomes like a disease. - One way to find out if a society is normal is looking at the stats of the society.
- A society can be viewed as healthy or unhealthy depending on how it operates
5. Deviance as Relativistic Behaviour (Rule Breaking)
- Rule Breaking
- Anyone who breaks rules is deviant
6. Deviance as dangerous behaviour
- Any type of behaviour that is a threat to the social order or safety of citizens are deviant
- Terrorists, serial killers etc. these are the people are that we give this label
- There is no one definition for the label of deviance.
There are positive and negative aspects of deviant behaviour:
- When someone breaks a rule it forces us to determine if it is deviant or not (clarifies rules)
- Deviance releases tension and promotes solidarity
- Promotes boundary maintenance (promotes what is and isn’t acceptable)
- Raises the value of conformity (you are more likely to have problems if you go against
traditions, when you break from society, there are consequences)
- An early warning system, from problems in our social order
- Protection of vested interests
- When a deviant label is applied to a person, they are usually cut off from the group
- You may be seen as being dangerous because you were labelled as deviant
- Deviance may lead to institutionalization
- Suggests that people should be punished
- Deviants are seen as being morally, spiritually and intellectually inferior to others
- Essentialising labels – it speaks to your whole person, once someone says that you are
deviant, it opens up a bunch of opinions about you as a person
WEEK 2: Jan.12 /2017
More Theoretical types of deviance.
List developed by Howard. S. Becker.
- Someone who simply conforms to everything around them
- A lot of Canadians do this and do as they are told
- Even if they question it, they will do as they are told 2. Falsely Accused Deviant
- Might be the way they behave or the way they present themselves, or it could be just how
people view them
- They are being accused of being deviant when they are not
3. Secret Deviant
- Someone who commits deviant acts in the privacy of their own home
- Someone who has a positon of authority, but might not only be deviant but also criminal
- Carries on without anyone knowing
4. Pure Deviant
- Someone who just accepts who they are, they are just purely deviant
- Rules are made, and how they are enacted and implemented changes over time
- Same with how the public perceives these rules too
- Rules are made but they may not be enforced all the time
1. Enforcement is an enterprising act
- Someone has to take the initiative
- Most police work is done by reactive policing (meaning that they react to crimes that have
already happened, 80-90% of this is reactive)
2. Enforcement occurs when those who want the rule enforced publically bring the infraction
to the public of others
3. People blow the whistle
- Ex. Someone reports that someone is stealing
- Whistleblowers are not rewarded in Canada
4. The kind of personal interest that prompts enforcement varies with the level that takes
- There are many issues that are involved and before you place a charge you need to look at all
Rule Creators – People who like to make laws. They don’t like the existing laws so they want to
make them tougher, things bother them so they want to make them illegal.
Ex. Smoking bans in previous years. You are not allowed to smoke in public places anymore.
Smoking may have bothered someone so they changed it.
Rule Enforcer – People who like to go out an enforce rules.
Police officers used to be based on a quota. They had to place a certain amount of charges.
Why did they have quotas? They need it to make revenue. Another reason to have quotas, is to make sure that the police are actually out there and doing
their jobs, it’s a way of keeping them busy and making sure that they are actually working.
When you are labelled deviant, depends on many other factors. The person who observes your
behaviour has to be credible.
What are the difference between deviance and a criminal act?
1. A crime always involves violating the law while deviance does not; Most deviant acts are not
2. Crime is violation of a formal norm while deviance is a violation of an informal norm
3. The number and variety of deviances is higher than the number of crimes
4. Not all deviances are crimes, but all crimes are deviant
People are addicted to their cellphones and texting. It is seen as an addiction.
20/80 Split – Less that 20% of the population commit 80% of the crimes
Anomie Strain Theory – 3 Theorists.
Robert K. Merton
Merton is saying that not everyone has the ability to get money.
Not everyone makes the same amount of money or wealth, so some do different things to get
So people have different means and goals.
1. Innovation: They accept the goals, but not the means.
They want to make money and live the good life, but they do it in not good ways such as selling
drugs or pole dancing. Ex. A Criminal or other examples.
2. Ritualism: Group of people who do not accept the goals, but accept the means. Person who is
happy doing what they are doing.
3. Conformity: You accept the goals and the means. Ex. You accept having a 9-5 job and making
money in a legal way. Ex. A Student (go to class to get a job)
4. Retreatism: They don’t accept the goals and don’t accept the means. They just retreat away. 5. Rebellion. You vary over the course of lifetime, you sometimes accept the means and
sometimes the goals.
Merton: Anomie is the disjunction between institutional means and cultural goals.
This is when Anomie happens
Anomie is when a society is in a crisis. Refers to people who are alienated, and are deviant away
from the world that they live.
Durkheim said that a society is well integrated is a well-functioning society.
He said when you have an anomic society, there is a breakdown between the stable norms and
the unstable norms. This society will fuel things such as suicide and crime.
Durkheim came up with different types of suicide:
1. Altruistic Suicide: Where someone will sacrifice themselves because they are bound up with
the group they are with.
Ex. Members of Gangs
2. Egotistical Suicide: Someone has weak ties to the group that they are unable to prevent that
person’s suicide. Becomes a personal decision
3. Anomic Suicide: A state or normlessness, the rates of alienation is high, society is in a state of
normlessness, social ties are really weak. Has rejected the norms of the system.
4. Fatalistic Suicide: Occurs in some gangs and cultures.
Durkheim says that crime is necessary, and that it is useful and is bound up with life.
Every society has to respond to some form a crime eventually
WEEK 3 - January 19 /2017
- Will become known as the Chicago school
- Time in the early 60’s and 70’s when they were trying to identify what was causing crime
- Why Are Afro Americans involved in the creation of these gang, what the average age and
lifespan, how long do gangs last, how do you prevent gang formations?
- You need to go to the experts to see if something is gonna work
- There are gangs inside prisons, some control the yard and some control other things
- Biggest problems is how do you address it and how do deal with it?
- You need more police officers and you need to arrest more people Why/how do gangs form?
- How do you become a part of one?
- What is the onset of crime, when does it start and how long does it last, when does it stop?
Cohen looked at lower class boys and looked at how they competed in middle class
- You take them and put them in a middle class school and it results in failure
- You cannot take them and evaluate them with middle class values
- When lower class youth are placed in the environment they are doomed to failure, to achieve
success or status you need to have middle class values and attitudes
- You need to have academic intelligence & academic fluids
- They have not been socialized in the same way as middle class boys
- They are usually the losers, as they don’t have the same resources
- Young men from lower class backgrounds recognize they can’t success and they suffer from
status frustration (when you cannot compete with others)
- They start not showing up at school and start hanging up at street corners and they form a
gang and they form a delinquent subculture, and this allows them to compete within their
gang. The one that is the strongest within their gang will have success.
Like Merton’s Theory:
- Will engage in deviant activities because society will not help them to achieve their goals
Word “Gang” means 1-3 people
Cloward & Ohlin – Differential Illegitimate Opportunity Structure
2 Means to achieve opportunity: Pathways to Success
- People who come from educated families have legitimate pathways
Either you have the means or you don’t have the means.
If you don’t have access to the legitimate means you will go for the illegitimate means
Delinquent acts can be defined by 2 things:
1. Violates norms in society
2. Evokes a judgement by the state
Richard Quinney – Conflict Theory
- Social reality of crime by Richard Quinney
- Noticed that there were differences in how power/wealth were distributed in society
- Not everyone gets it equally - In a capitalist society the rich get richer and the poor get prison
- How Criminal Law fits into a criminal society are constructions (they are created)
Conflict Theory – Richard Quinney
1. Definition of Crime: Crime as a legal definition of human conduct is created by agents (the
police) of the dominant class in society
- The rich get to make what the laws of the land are, not you.
- They have the power to put people in prison and to take people out of it
2. Formulating Definitions of Crime
- Definitions of crime are made of behaviours that conflict with the interests of the dominant
- The laws are reflections of the interest of the powerful people in society
3. Applying Definitions of Crime
- Definitions of crime are applied by the class that has the power to shape the enforcement and
administration of criminal law
4. How behavioral patterns develop in relation to definitions of crime: Behavioral patterns are
structured in relation to definitions of crime and within this context people engage in actions
that have probabilities of being defined as criminal
- The way you conceive yourself is how you respond to others
- Probability that people will develop actions patterns will depend on learning strategies
5. Constructing an ideology of crime: An ideology of crime is constructed or defused by the
dominant class to secure its support
6. Constructing the social reality of crime: The social reality of crime is constructed by
a) formulation and application of definition of crime
b) development of behavioral patterns in relation to these patterns
c) construction of a social ideology of crime
Social reality of crime is something that is driven by power, laws are created by the rich and the
police are paid by the powerful to enforce these laws.
WEEK 4 - January 26 /2017
- NO CLASS WEEK 5 – February 2 /2017
James Holt – Guest Speaker
As a small child was left at a bus station, abandoned from his parents; he was sent to multiple
foster homes where he was beaten and treated like a dog; he began stealing and committing
small petty crimes; by the age of 16 he was put in juvenile; had one child and then another one
which led to a marriage; and since then has been in and out of prison (for guns, violence, drugs,
murder, gangs — West-end Montreal gang the Irish, drug dealing, not meeting requirements of
parole, escaping prison, attempted murder, etc); been to Innes, Montreal, Toronto; became
very manipulative; naturally intelligent in school; once out of prison (15 year sentence) went
back to school and received amazing grade; had to stop school because found out he had a
tumor in his head; developed PTSD over all these years; he realized that he was lacking love,
trust, care; his new girlfriend (been together now 11 years) makes him feel unconditionally
loved; it has now been in November 17 years since leaving prison, he has no motivation, need,
nor want to return to prison, he has not committed a crime since.
Grew up in Montreal and Poverty
Went to court and was found not guilty, found guilty for missing him and hitting someone else
that was coming from the bathroom.
Said they would give him 7 years for attempted murder. Now he has another 7 years to do.
Got off on Parole. Got out on the streets on Montreal.
Got transferred to Innes Road in Ottawa. They didn’t keep him there a lot, they kept him in a
Got sent up to Kingston Penitentiary. After a guy pissed him off and he went to get an axe and
was tackled by the police.
Tried to escape by building a tunnel underground. A guard fell in the hole they were digging and
he was transferred again.
He found the girl that ripped him off and shot her with a shotgun in the stomach. – She
Interaction between 2 people and one is judging the actions of another
As stated by Becker:
All social groups create deviance by make rules and enforce them, social rules define situations
Social groups make rules who infraction constitutes deviance
Deviance is not a quality of the act that the person commits
It is a consequence of application of others of rules an