SOC 1100 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Lloyd Ohlin, Cesare Lombroso, Richard Cloward
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SOC1100 Katy Lemaire
October 28th, 2015.
Deviance is the recognized violation of cultural norms, norms guide all human activities
first category of deviance is crime which is the violation of a society’s formally enacted criminal
social control is attempts by society to regulate people’s thoughts and behaviour that all of us
are subject to
cases of serious deviance may involve the criminal justice system a formal response by police,
courts, and prison officials to alleged violations of the law, the way this is decided is all
determined by the way a society is organized
The Biological Context: In 1876, Cesare Lombroso theorized that criminals stand out physically
however the traits he associated labelled basically everyone as a criminal. Today, genetics
research seeks possible links between biology and crime, they concluded that nature and
nurture (environment and biological factors) link together as strong predictors of crime.
Personality Factors: abnormality in individual personality, Reckless and Dintz who researched
this topic found that “Good boys” displayed a strong conscience (superego) and could handle
frustration while identifying with conventional societal norms. However, the “bad boys” had a
weaker conscience and displayed little tolerance of frustration whilst feeling out of place. In
more recent studies, twin studies occurred to display differences in likelihood of getting in
Social Foundations of Deviance
(1) Deviance varies according to Cultural Norms: No thought or action is inherently deviant; it
becomes deviant in relation to particular norms
(2) People become deviant as others define them that way: the way you are defined depends on
how others perceive, define and respond to it.
(3) Both norms and the way in which people define rule breaking involve social power: Karl Marx
pioneered this concept by stating that powerful people do what they need to in order to
protect their own interests, deviance actually provides essential functions: deviance affirms
cultural values and norms, responding to deviance clarifies moral boundaries, responding
to deviance brings people together and lastly deviance encourages social change.
Merton’s Strain Theory: Robert Merton argued that society can be set up in a way that
encourages too much deviance. The extent and the type of deviance people engage in depend
on whether a society provides the means (such as schooling) to achieve cultural goals (such as
financial success) Conformity lies in pursuing cultural goals through approved means. *see page
211 of textbook for diagram. The strains generated by our cultures emphasis on wealth and the
lack of opportunities to get rich encourage some people to engage in criminal activity, with this
type of deviance being called innovation, using unconventional means. Merton gave the
concepts of ritualism where he considers how many people believe they cannot reach a cultural
goal but they stick to conventional means to feel respectable. He termed retreatism which is the
overall rejection of cultural goals and means. Lastly he provided the concept of rebellion who
reject the cultural definition of success and the means at which one should achieve it.
Deviant Subcultures: Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin extended Merton’s theory- proposing
that crime results not simply from limited legitimate (legal) opportunity but also from readily
accessible illegitimate opportunity.
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