Chapter 9: intereactionist theories
• SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM HAS THREE BASIC PREMISES:
1. People act toward objects in their lives according to the meanings of those objects to them.
2. The meanings of objects to individuals emerge from interactions with other people
3. These meanings are applied and modified as individuals interpret particular situations ( they are not fixed entity. They can
change in the course of human interactions. Also context can effect the meaning i.e. the way you hold a KNIFE. Same
symbol of knife and has a meaning but it has different meaning)
THE DEVIANT CAREER
A deviant career is the passage of an individual through recognized stages in one or more related deviant identities.
o Careers involve adjustments to, and interpretations of, the contingencies and turning points encountered at each stage.
o Labeling is fundamental to having a deviant career. It is a very contentious process.
1) Family causes a person to send him mexico
2) Eenvironment in which he lives in (he was kidnapped as a child because this was common)
3) He was used as an assassin
• Every step of the ways work together to get a HITMAN career at the end just like establishing a noncriminal career.
LABELLING THEORY: EDWIN LEMERT
• Deviance is not a quality of the act, but a result of the act’s social definition (It doesn’t become criminal until we say so. I.e. in
war, it is ok to till and we hire them to kill)
• PRIMARY DEVIATION: The initial acts of deviance (the small little actions of a person) before deviance becomes a way of
life no commitment to criminal as of yet (they are drifting btw criminal vs. noncriminal life styles. Example is person who
takes pot/month and drink. ). Individuals may “drift”— i.e. torn btw respectability and deviance
• The acts may become reinforced by “moral rhetorics” (claims used to justify deviance) e.g. in peer groups to neutralize the
“stigma”(i.e. he is a criminal) or negative social evaluation from deviance
• A “label” may become successfully applied (so we just know him as a criminal and don’t care about anything else he does
• SECONDARY DEVIATION: Deviance that results from the imposition of the label is part of an individual’s identity
• The label depends on factors other than the individual’s behavior (i.e. the label that has been successfully that has been applied to
him. i,.e. they are not committed to crime but we caught them in the act and start calling him pot head. This label attaches to this
person and we then began calling for this behavior as we name him this)
• The process of being labeled a deviant is a process of negotiation and is not static (i.e. function of interaction btw mood of
officer, officer himself and the criminal).
• If successfully applied, the label may become a “master status”
• The relationship: Primaryà we attached a label (the reaction of the society)à this label leads to the secondary deviations
PRIMARY DEVIATION: THE NOTION OF ‘DRIFT’
• Drift is a state of weak normative attachment to either deviant or conventional ways
• Some youth respond to the situation and do not think of the consequences ahead (it just feels good right now)
• Social control has failed for these people who instead seek honor from their peers by practicing subterranean traditions
JUSTIFYING DEVIANCE: MORAL RHETORICS
• One element of young offender subculture is the moral rhetoric used to justify deviant behavior by claiming it is morally right
o Egoism – neutralize stigma – for example, they steal from people who are greedy and immoral
o Instrumental – justify their acts by stressing the cunning and power they can bring to bear against powerful people
o 3) Everyone does it so that’s why I am doing it.
• Ordinary people who help create and enforce the rules are known as “moral entrepreneurs”. An example is the ‘crusading
reformer’ and people like police officers. What you need to do is:
o Assert the existence of a particular condition or state of affairs