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SOCY 275 (107)
Lecture 2

Sources of Knowledge of Deviance (Week 2).docx

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SOCY 275
Stacey Alerie

Deviance as Elusive (hard to find)  Finding information about deviance is difficult because people are secretive about the deviant acts they commit  Different societies define the same behaviour in different ways o Deviance  Banned or controlled behaviour that results in punishment or disapproval  Those who deviate tend to make their own lives more difficult because they are breaking the rules  Most rule breaking is denied or represented as something else o Corruption  Illegal gain as a result of power or privilege  There are sometimes only “partial sightings” of deviant behaviour o Unreliable o Is not enough information to come to a common understanding  Individual subjects resist full surveillance  Each theorist describe phenomena differently o Eg views on police  At first, police represent justice and focus on delinquents  In another account, police are portrayed as hostile or involved with corruption  Sociological research is constrained by the structures in its own field o Not all groups are accessible o Whites trying to gain access into black communities o Men trying to gain access into feminist groups  Most strangers are reluctant to reveal personal information  Sociologists own experiences plays a part in research  Deviance is unpredictable o Certain individuals may be hard to find or do not want to be studied Methodological Strategies  Observation – Macro o Deviants being distinguished by visibility  Public groups  Access is easy o General understandings  Observation – Micro o Private feelings o Interviewing  Neutralization  Diminishing responsibility for deviance o Interviewing  Snowball sample  Sample created by initial contact leading to other people to interview  There are boundaries to samples  Unique and distinctive groups make research uncertain  Misleading impression of collective behaviour o The Case Study  Collaborating with a deviant and writing their life story  Trying to understand the rule breaking part of their lives  Interested in depth and detail o Participation  Participant Observation  Researchers acts as a member of the group being observed  Some behaviours cannot be understood until they are experienced personally  May be unethical  Edgework  Study of risk taking o Eg, sky diving  Research also focuses on how visuals are used in the media (police chases, vandalism) o Institutional Research  Institutions themselves are the focus of the study  Few ways of checking the accuracy of what a subject says  Institutions impose their own mark on inmates conduct  Treatment, punishment, control  Cannot be used to generalize other people because other deviants are untreated  Subjects can also identify the sociologist as part of the organization  Responses may be cautious or hostile o Self Reports  Survey method for determining deviance  Not likely to reported to the police  People self reporting their deviant acts in surveys  May be lying  Not representative of the population at large o Cohort Studies  A group of people if the same age who are studied to see how deviance develops over time  How these patterns intersect with other events  Longitudinal Study  Looks at changes in a group over time  Used in studying development of chronic delinquency o Crime Study  Mass surveys of households  Measuring their experiences of being victims  Discovers “real crime rates”  Reveals how low the crime reported to the police was  (victimization survey)  also ask questions on attitudes towards the criminal justice system and personal safety  study of social geography of crime events  governments “consumer” satisfaction with services by the criminal justice system  everyday deviance committed by and against the working class is no longer petty  focusing on problems with police effectiveness and crime prevention  fail to cover high risk groups o imprisoned, institutionalized, and homeless o conducted when family members are present, difficulty in locating sexual abuse and violence against women  crime studies map against people, not against institutions  do not account crimes committed BY institutions
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