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2C06 E - Outline - 14 January.doc

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Denis Wall

SOCI2C06E – Deviance 14 January Functionalism and strain (parts 1 and 2) Readings - Adler & Adler, ch. 6: Durkheim, “Functionalism: The Normal and the Pathological” - Deutschmann, ch. 8 I. Durkheim – ‘Functionalism: The Normal and the Pathological’ i. deviance is a fundamental feature of all societies - deviance is normal to all healthy functioning societies - people are socialized into an understanding of their society’s norms and values, but, they are never 100% socialized ii. deviance serves several major functions: Punishment is a social reaction to crime. It serves not simply the obvious functions of retribution for the criminal and general deterrence of crime; it also fulfills the generally unrecognized but critical function of maintaining the intensity of collective sentiments (shared values) (in this case, the objection to criminal activity) a. crime is necessary (functional) to remind the community of its values and standards b. crime serves to create a sense of solidarity among law-abiding citizens c. society can make moral messages about which rules are most important by adjusting the severity of punishment d. punishments given to criminals help to force compliance with the law e. warn a society that something may be wrong with the overall way it operates – its social structure f. in some situations, tolerance of deviant behavior acts as a safety valve and actually prevents more serious instances of nonconformity 1 iii. deviance can also be dysfunctional e.g., how can low crime rates be seen as dysfunctional? a. creativity is lacking b. absence of morality and absence of laws c. signals a lack of available resources required to deal with the problem d. destroying trust and solidarity e. creating social disorganization (Chicago School) II. Main assumptions of strain theories i. all versions of strain theory agree that deviant behavior is a normal response to abnormal conditions - under conditions of strain individuals will seek alternative means by which to solve their problems - strain theories emphasize the problem-solving functions served by nonconforming, antisocial, delinquent, and criminal behavior ii. strain theories hold that humans are socialized to behave in patterned and predictable ways - e.g. for Mertonians, all the cultural messages encourage us to have it all but everywhere there are road blocks or constraints to getting these things - such a society is described as suffering strain because of a. a dysfunctional mismatch between the aspirations or goals it sets for its members and the structure of opportunities or means it provides for them to achieve these goals b. an unleashing of individual aspirations without a corresponding provision of normative or moral guidelines to moderate the level of raised goals, and c. the failure to match people’s skills and abilities to the available positions in the society (a “forced” division of labor) iii. strain theories are an ‘effect’ or outcome – they are dependent variables - the means that societies prescribe for attaining goals causes strain 2 III. The normative / functionalist period – Robert Merton’s challenge 1. Differences between Durkheim and Merton: i. Durkheim: people, by nature, have insatiable passions and appetites that are regulated by norms and rules - Merton: human needs and desires are primarily the product of a social process - i.e., cultural socialization - we ‘learn’ to want economic success ii. Durkheim: anomie is a temporary condition of normlessness that characterizes an entire social group: “A environmental state wherein society fails to exercise adequate regulation or constraint over the goals and desires of its individual members; a state of ‘normlessness’” - concerned with social change as getting rid of old values and bringing in new ones - Merton: anomie is a characteristic feature of some societies that are mal-integrated - cultural and social mal-integration: - the means and goals promoted in a society are inconsistent with each other - unequal stress on the goals or on the appropriate means for achieving those goals - e.g. a society that says, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” iii. Durkheim: associates anomie with sudden change - Merton associates anomie with strains built into a social system that are always present - Merton is concerned with is a persistent structural strain while Durkheim is concerned with temporary structural strain 3 2. Merton’s anomie - Merton’s view of “anomie” “A breakdown in social structure occurring particularly when there is an acute disjuncture between cultural norms and goals and the socially structured capacities of the members of the group to act in accord with them.” - for Merton, societies are characterized by two structural features: i. a commonly defined set of goals for its members to try to achieve and ii. a generally approved set of means to achieve those goals - a well-integrated society: one that generally places equal value on both goal achievement and the use of approved means to obtain the goals - e.g. well-integrated society: “winning is good, but it’s also important how you play the game” (this equals low anomie and few strains) Q. How does society encourage deviance (i.e. norm violation)? Merton’s anomie – disconnect between goals (end) and means of acquiring th
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