SOCI 2445 – A
Sociology of Deviance
Lecture Five: Research and Deviance
*Start reading newspapers. They are not academic journals but they do give an indication of what is
going on and provide examples of deviant behaviour.
*We are only covering the major, traditional theories in this class. Not all theories in the text will be
CONFLICT THEORY (a Constructionist Theory)
Only a select few make the rules. These people are the wealthiest, most educated of a population.
People who control power are the people who control definitions and in turn control to whom these
definitions are applied, how they apply, etc. Richard Quinney notes that everything that is defined as
criminal is an ideology of crime and is constructed by the status quo. According to Quinney, when things
go missing within the justice system when cases involve people in power, it shows the true power that
the State has. Is our justice system corrupt? Is their equality? The system is set up with complete
domination and power. Quinney’s SOCIAL REALITY OF CRIME:
1. The official definition of crime: Crime as a legal definition of human conduct is created by agents of
the dominant class in a politically organized society. In essence, the dominant class makes, enforces,
and maintains the law; it is something developed by the system. The dominant class calls the shots
when it comes to defining crime.
2. Formulating definitions of crime: Definitions are composed of behaviours that conflict with the
dominant class. If you are the person in power and you make the law, you can define what is or is
not criminal. The State determines both the offences and the punishments.
3. Applying definitions of crime: Definitions of crime are applied by the class that had the power to
4. How behavioural patterns develop in relation to definitions of crime: To become a criminal
requires 4 specific ACTION PATTERNS
Self-conception of who you are (conceive yourself as a criminal)
5. Constructing an ideology of crime: The dominant class basically broadcasts to the public at large
what the penalties are, what the laws are, and so on. They use hegemony. Communicated by the
powers to be (dominant class) to the general public.
6. Constructing the social reality of crime: Includes all the previous statements.
A lot of what Quinney says is based on RADICAL criminology.