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SOC*2070 Lecture Week 1

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SOC 2070
Linda Hunter

Monday, Jan 7, 2013 * questions on midterms will only be on things in the textbook that are addressed in class SOC*2070 Week 1 Social Deviance - the term conjures up many images that take on different meanings to various audi- ences - while it may appear that such a wide spectrum of acts and behaviours have nothing in common, they all represent examples of behaviour that have elicited negative reactions from large or powerful audiences - there is not a universal definition of deviance, those who study it are never in agree- ment on a way to define it - the course will present different theoretical concerns and research approaches regard- ing the study of social deviance Why Study Deviance? - career plans that include law - special affinity - fascinating area to study - why do people stray from the straight and narrow? Social Deviance - even the idea of deviance tells us about a society’s tolerance and control over individu- als - social organization and social structure - how it arises and how it is preserved - the course will link theories and facts about deviance to broader sociological issues about social organization, social control, cultural change, and social inequality - dominant groups will often oppose solutions because they are not in their group’s favor - a lot of people that study social deviance do so in a qualitative way Three Perspectives on Defining Deviance 1. Absolutist Perspective - just as it sounds, absolute, no other way Monday, Jan 7, 2013 - assumes widespread consensus over definitions of deviance - Durkheim: social laws reflect objective facts, “collective consciousness” - universal taboos against murder, incest, lying, etc. often cited as evidence - absolutist proponents often view deviance as bad and destructive of social order, re- quiring stern, punitive measures (“law and order”) - it is an objectivist approach in its core because it relies on internal inherent features that stand apart from your subjective ideas and interests Example: - campaign against gay marriage - absolutist elements incorporated into functionalist theories of deviance view that de- viance is pathological or a “disease” and negative in its effect 2. Social Constructionist Approach - course really grounded on this - focus on the norms that bind and define deviance rather than on the deviant act itself - a subjective approach to defining deviance guided by belief that social meanings, and values and norms in everyday life situations are often uncertain - argues that social meanings arise in different situations - studies the way norms are created, and their consequences for different groups in so- ciety - different definitions of deviance come about in different eras and locations leading to a significant constructions and reconstructions of deviance - relative perspective belongs within constructionism - deviance lodged in the eye of the beholder rather than the act itself - Becker (1963, 9) articulates relativist position: “social groups create deviance by mak- ing the rules who infraction constitutes deviance, and by applying these rules to particu- lar people and labeling them as outsiders.” - all of this points to multiple definition of acts, alternatively deviant or not, depending on the standpoint of different groups - definitions of deviance are used by moral crusaders to enforce their perception of reali- ty Example: - abortion - use of medical marijuana - gay marriage 3. Social Power Perspective - builds on relativist perspective by introducing Marx’s conflict theory Monday, Jan 7, 2013 - laws reflect the interest and concerns of the dominant class - dominant groups and social classes tend to have and to exercise the power to make and to enforce the rules of society which reflect their particular interests - society is characterized by conflict and struggle between groups - those with the greatest social power have the ability to create the rules and laws - reject absolutist view that definitions of deviance are universally shared: instead em- phasizes group conflict and struggle over such definitions - conflict over definitions of deviance can occur between various groups based on eco- nomics, race/ethnicity, gender, religion, cultural identity, etc. Example: - consider growing prison population of primarily “street” criminals but relatively few white collar convictions Community-Engaged Learning and Social Deviance - community-engaged scholarship, often referred to as community-engaged learning, engages students and the community together in a process of knowledge generation, allowing for the interchange of expertise and practical outcomes for both parties - stu- dents and the community - the sociology of deviance can derive benefit from community-engaged learning to en- hance student understanding and to foster creativity and innovation - a community-engaged framework can be used to creatively connect students to marginalized groups about which it has traditionally been difficult to establish a deep un- derstanding - acts as a bridge between theory and practice - guest speakers offer an integral contribution to the subject matter and will present fas- cinating material - engaging with marginalized groups can provide substantive examples and illustrations of the larger sociological processes involves in the studies of social deviance Defining Deviance What is deviant behaviour? What is crime? - deviance is the violation of norms - norms are behavioural codes of prescriptions that guide people into conforming to so- cial acceptability Sumner’s (1906) classic definition of folkways, mores and laws Folkways - everyday norms based on custom, tradition, etiquette Monday, Jan 7, 2013 - examples: fashion norms, table manners, physical eye contact Mores - moral norms based on social values - examples: drug addiction (hedonism over rationality) - violations seen as more of a threat to social order, and the offender is seen as harmful to society and its institutions Laws - strongest norms since supported by formal code of sanctions - examples: murder, assault, rape - violations may lead to arrest, imprisonment or even death Smith & Pollack (1976) reformulate Sumner: crime, sin and poor taste Crime - violates laws Sins - acts that contravene religious values Poor Taste - involves violations of informal folkways Crime and deviance: Are they the same or different? - some acts overlap such as crimes of violence that are both deviant and illegal - much deviance is non-criminal - certain criminal violations such as acts of civil disobedience, do
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