The term crime is problematic because:
It restricts our analysis to certain types of behavior (ie. Murder, theft) and much relevant behavior
may be ignored ( ie. Body modification)
Our current definition is based upon a specific theory of crime. In this theory, crime is defined as
“demonstrated harm to others”. However harm is a very subjective term. Does weed cause harm to
It is narrow, the term deviance has also caused problems because it is broad. Like the concept of
crime, it varies across time and place and is subjective. Deviance also depends upon people’s
definitions of situations (eg. use of alcohol and profanity)
If deviance is a violation of a social norm, can it also be defined as situational? Ie. Assault in a
Although these may seem to be purely abstract, academic questions, they have practical
ramifications. The way we define our subject has significant consequence for constructing useful
theoretical explanations about the topic in question
Some have argued that discussing a behavior in the context of deviance defines that behaviors as
deviant and that the term should be eradicated altogether.
Confusion and Diversity:
The sociology of deviance is not a coherent discipline. It is a common subject, but there is not a
Some Marxists perceive deviance as liberating acts of rebellion against capitalism conformity as
collusion. Functionalists and control theorists perceive institutional restraint as vital to social
This lack of unison should not be considered a failing.
Confusion and Diversity 2:
Little harmony can be attained about the contours of deviance, For some, prostitution and
marijuana use are victimless crimes, while for others these acts appear to be responsible for a host
of other social maladies
Definitions of deviance change over time (smoking tobacco, gambling, homosexuality)
Confusion and Diversity 4: Deutschmann claims that one theory cannot explain all forms of deviance while Downes and Rock
“of course, it is conceivable that the claims of one school are valid and that deviance is actually
unambiguous when it is properly interpreted. It is also conceivable that there is no single truth
Confusion and Diversity 5:
Clarke and Cornish/James Wilson simply dismiss theories of crime with no suggestions for
In contrast, Schur, Becker and Szaz would likely argue that state interference often leads to more
deviance (ie. If branded a criminal, loser, failure etc, we might become as much)
Quality Theory and Research:
Causality: (4 minimums)
Variable should covary
Covariance should be nonspurious
Research should be theoretical.
Reliable (consistent findings)
Valid (accurate and precise findings)
Representative (how far may we generalize?) Variable Covariance aka Casualty Covariance:
Variables are associated ( they go together, salt and pepper, night and day)
In understanding crime, criminologists have identified the following as important: Age, Sex
,SES( Socioecon status) VMS (Visibleminority status).
High crimes= low SES, Low crimes = high SES
Suggests that cause must come before effect. Independent variable(Cause) must come before
dependent variable (effect)
SelfEsteem and promiscuity (Difficult to decide( due to it being a snap shot, some may argue it is
Violence and Age
Depression and Body Image
Brain Chemistry and homelessness.
Causality – Nonspurious Relationships.
Sometimes variables correlate and it may be easy to determine which preceded the other in time.
These relationships may still be spurious. That is, they may both be caused by another variable.
We might think:
X(Depression) = Y (Body Image) or vice versa.
You want it to be nonspurious!!!!
What if Z (abusive parents) causes both X and Y?
We might be in a position to suggest that depression and body image are correlated and maybe
even that depression preceded body image, but parenting might be responsible for changes in
(This is why literature review is incredibly important). Reliability and Validity
In order to conduct quality research, findings should easily be replicated. Durkheim’s research on
suicide has been found to meet the tests of time and replication. Therefore, it is considered reliable.
Validity refers to whether a researcher has in practice, captured what the have examined. Put
differently, does the empirical measure capture the real meaning of the concept? Is it valid to
suggest one can measure motivation by using a person’s average income.
Following problems are often salient:
Unclear Questions :
Do you think our politicians are honest?
What is your ethnicity?
Western Canadians should begin to explore the idea od forming their own country
Should the government reduce taxes on education and health care?
Do you think Premier Stelmach’s proposed oil royalty rate increases in Alberta are fair? Long question/items (See slides from week 2)
Negative items often generate bias and need to be avoide