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Feb 28 social construction.doc

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University of Alberta
Bryan Hogeveen

Feb 28 – Social Construction Time • How might time be a social construction? Questions about grass • Who were the enforcers created to respond to the problem? • How was ganja socially constructed? Definition of the Situation Becker suggested that the main component of the social construction of deviance is how: • Becker said: “Social groups create deviance by making the rules whose infraction constitutes deviance. In this way deviance is not a quality of the act but rather a consequence of the application by others of rules and sanctions to an ‘offender’”. • Becker pointed out that deviance isn’t something that is naturally occurring, rather it is a social construct • Deviance is a consequence of the application of rules by others • Becker said its politically, socially and economically powerful people who defined what deviance is and made sure that a deviant label is applied to those people. Only the affluent could create rules that have sanctions attached to them • Becker said this was doen to maintain the status quo. This was done to maintain the power of upper classes in society • Those individuals in those groups had a mechanism to keep them in line • When we look at the social world, those who have the most to gain use the CJS to maintain place in our social world • Deviance and crime is a representation of unequal power in society • When we look at who is in remand center, we see a certain group of people overrepresented • The number of violent crimes are few compared to property and theft crimes • Howard becker said We need to think about what the criminal justice system is accomplishing • Instead of thinking the CJS is responding to crime, becker said that it accelerates the problem • Instead of dealing with crime, the CJS creates crime • When a person is processed through the CJS, they are labelled as a criminal and society changes the way they react and respond to the individual. The person then becomes labelled and stigamatized as a criminal. This is labelling theory • The person life is contoured by this label of criminal • The arguement can be made that if the CJS is creating crime, we need to redesign the CJS • Becker was a product of the 60s. In the 60s and 70s, there was rapid social change. People were asking question about what the govt could do for us. Up to that point, the majority of people in society viewed the govt as a system for the betterment of all. • 60s was 15 years removed from WW2. There was a period of baby booming and human rights movements. There was expansion of the university system • There was an influx of students with radical minds and ideas. Becker was one of these individuals and was critical of the govt and what it was intending to do • The politically, socially and economically dominant groups impose their definitions of deviance on the downtrodden and powerless (squeegee kids, homeless, youth in general) • They possess the power to make and apply rules to others and thereby control the normative order • Deviance then, is largely a representation of unequal power in society (cigars and alcohol). Why is ganja illegal but alcohol consumption is allowed? Why is cigars allowed but not ganja? Why does the govt control all drug use. Why is there a ban on firearms? We need to think about the laws of society and why we make these laws. • We need to examine the role of law in our society • Deviance is a social construction by those who have power in our society and are the most affluent Moral Entrepreneurs • Laws to govern corporate crime have been repealed • Legislation has been retrenched and corporate crime investigators have shrunk • This money is now being used to govern those who are the poorest of society • This is saying who needs to be governed. • Corporate crime causes a large amount of harm • We repeal corporate crime and instead divert resources to govern the lower class • Lorraine said those who have power in society are able to make claims and give those claims legs
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