Jan 15 – Intro to Deviance
Elements of Deviance
1.) Deviance is socially constructed
• The meaning a thing has isn’t the intrinsic meaning itself, rather it is the
meaning giving to it by social agents ( Ex. When we see prostitution
occurring, we judge people with our minds already made up. When we see a
pit bull, we get the image of a mad and scary dog.
• The perception of the pitbull isn’t due to our interaction with the dog, it is
based on a construction that has been made for you before you arrive at the
• One of the ways things are constructed in our minds is through media.
• Media has immense power in constructing images. Many of us haven’t met
Romney, but we get a image of him being rich, snobby, and oppressive due
to the media constructing a perception of him.
• Media constructs almost everything we encounter
• When we talk about crime, we think of violence, gangs, serial killers, which
are all results from the media’s social construction.
• Media is interested in the spectacles and exceptions of reality. This is based
on the belief of us being in “the age of the spectacle”
• The spectacular is what gets constituted as the everyday. The unusual
becomes the usual. When that happens, that shapes the way we view and
govern an issue.
• For example, if a pitbull goes crazy and maims someone. That one case,
constructs our view of all pitbulls and will shape the way we govern them (ex.
Laws and regulations of pitbulls)
• Ex. The swastika is associated with Nazis. When we see the swastika, we are
upset at the swastika, we aren’t thinking of the symbol itself, we are
attending to what the symbol represents.
2.) Deviance is contextual/ situationally specific
2 elements: a.) The idea of what is deviant changes according to social group (Derek and
language, tattoos). In a university classroom, its inappropriate to cuss. But
when your in a hockey locker room, its considered normal to drop f bombs.
Deviance is context specific
b.) And according to situation (hockey rink vs. Office meeting). In a game, you
would tap the player when hes on a breakaway to make him uncomfortable.
It is normal for that to happen in a hockey game. But if we were to tap people
on the LRT, that would be deviant because it is not normal in that context
3.) Deviance is culturally relative
• For example, in western society, we don't like people talking to close to us.
While in another culture, it may be normal to talk right in fro