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Lecture 2

SOC*2070 Readings Week 2

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SOC 2070
Linda Hunter

Defining Deviance: A Culture of Voyeurism, Reality TV, Growing Up Online, News Programming and Mean World Syndrome On the Sociology of Deviance (Adler Ch 1 pg. 17-24) Studying Deviance - Erikson asserts that deviance and the social reactions it evokes are key focal concerns of every community - deviance leads us to continually redraw the social boundaries of acceptability - the very institutions and agencies mandated to manage deviance tend to reinforce it - society’s expectations that deviants will not reform foster the “self-fulfilling prophesy” - deviant behaviour in social units called “communities” - communities are boundary maintaining: each has a specific territory in the world as a whole - it controls the fluctuation of its consistent parts so that the whole retains a limited range of activity within the larger environment - the only material found in a society for marking boundaries is the behaviour of its members or rather, the networks of interaction which link these members together in regular social relations - boundaries are made clear through confrontations which occur when persons who venture out to the edges of the group are met by policing agents - confrontations between deviant offenders and the agents of control have always at- tracted a good deal of public attention - newspapers, radio and television offer much the same kind of entertainment as public hangings - boundaries are never a fixed property of any community, they are always shifting as the people of the group find new ways to define the outer limits of their universe - deviant behaviour is not a simple kind of leakage which occurs when the machinery of society is in poor working order but may be, in controlled quantities, an important con- dition for preserving the stability of social life - if we grant that human groups often derive benefit from deviant behaviour, can we then assume that they are organized in such a way as to promote this resource? - the criminal trial is the most obvious example of a commitment ceremony - an important feature of these ceremonies in our own culture is that they are almost ir- reversible An Integrated Typology of Deviance Applied to Ten Middle Class Norms (Adler Ch 2 pg. 25-40) - by cross-tabulating the dimensions of underconformity and overconformity with that of social evaluation, positive and negative, Heckert and Heckert yielded 4 types of de- viance: negative deviance, rate-busting, deviance admiration and positive deviance - this chapter applies this typology to a list of 10 middle-class norms - issues such as lying, disloyalty, hedonism, irresponsibility and invasion of privacy are “negative deviance” evaluated to see how such acts might translate into their deviance admiration, positive deviance and rate-busting counterparts A Typology of Deviance Integrating Normative and Reactivist Perspectives - cross-classified the significance of both norms and reactions, creating four possible scenarios - on the one hand, under-conformity or nonconformity that results in negative reactions - on the other hand, rate busting is over-conformity that is negatively evaluated - deviance admiration is underconformity or nonconformity that is positively approached - positive deviance is overconformity that receive positive reactions Negative Deviance - underconformity or nonconformity that is negatively evaluated - the “Jeffrey Dahmer phenomenon” - negative deviants can range from most criminals to the mentally ill to substance abusers Rate Busting - negatively appraised overconformity - the “Geek Phenomenon” - gifted students are often rejected by their peers - blond women are subjected to epic stereotyping, especially related to their intellectual capacity Deviance Admiration - underconformity or nonconformity that is favourably assessed - “John Gotti Phenomenon” - a fair number of criminals have been transformed from thugs to icons - e.g. Robin Hood, Billy the Kid - redheads Positive Deviance - overconformity that is responded to in a confirmatory fashion - “Mother Theresa Phenomenon” - good neighbors and saints - the physically attractive - positive reactions and evaluations flow often producing all kinds of added advantages, the response transcends even the norm at stake Normative Explanations Underconformity or Overconformity Nonconformity Social Reactions Negative Evalua- Negative Deviance Rate Busting and Collective Eval- tions uations Positive Evalua- Deviance Admira- Positive Deviance tions tion - this typology recognizes that the traditional distinction between normative expectations and societal reactions involves a false dichotomy and seeks to integrate normative defi- nitions with reactivist definitions - contexts have to be considered as audiences can differently react to the same behav- iour or conditions - e.g. elite tattoo collectors are simultaneously positive deviants to their subculture and negative deviants to the dominant society - deviance is relative and context is critical Norms and Predominant Middle-Class Norms in the United States - most commonly a norm has been defined as “a belief shared to some extent by mem- bers of a social unit as to what conduct ought to be in particular situations or circum- stances” - norms could be dually conceptualized between the idealized and the more realistic - the more idealized are really values: achievement and success, individualism, a
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