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SOCI 1000 Deviance and Counter Culture.docx

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SOCI 1000U
Timothy Macneill

Deviance and Counter Culture Deviance (sociological definition) • Sociological Definition: o Deviance: Ways of thinking and acting that are subject to social control o Social Control : the ways in which members of social groups express their disapproval of people and behaviour o Sociologists study what groups come to be labelled as deviant in a society, why, and what are the repercussions. • Alternative ways to define o By illustration: who is deviant?  Criminals, child-molesters, drug addicts, alcoholics, the mentally ill, chronic liars, members of religious cults…  Notice that this requires the researcher to make a value judgement  In other-words, the labelling of these as deviant is subjective  Subjective labelling attributes a moral stance to the observed behaviour o Statistically  A deviant behaviour is a behaviour that is uncommon  But is a blonde and blue-eyed man living in a Chinese village necessarily deviant? Or just different? o Harmful Behaviours:  Harmful behaviours: Murderers, rapists, thieves etc.  But, many non-harmful members of society are labelled deviant by society, and may even suffer harm themselves from the more numerous: mentally ill, homosexual, transgendered, mentally delayed • Three Theories of Deviance o Strain Theory  Why does deviance exist at all?  ‘Social Structure and Anomie’  Anomie: Normlessness, lack of ideals, lack of purpose  Strain Theory : Deviance emerges when there is a lack of fit between cultural goals and the means to achieve these goals  Merton Focused on marginalized economic class as the main source of strain – noting that deviant behaviour is the most common amongst the group  People cannot afford the lifestyle of the nuclear family  Later this was expanded on by others to include strain caused by racism, and gender  Also if there are more types of strain than not just getting what you want in life • Escapee from negative conditions (abuse) • Loss of something of social value (child forced to move)  Responses to strain : Deviance could emerge when: • A social structure encourages of people to seek objectives that are not actually available to them. • People who seek escape form a negative condition • People have lost something of social value  There are 5 ways of adjusting to such situations • Conformity: Most common. Accept as legitimate both culturally approved goals and means of achieving these goals • Innovation: Accept the culturally legitimate form of success but reject the conventional way of achieving success o Bank robber, drug dealer • Ritualism: Some go through the motions accepting the means to achieve goals but are not motivated by the goals themselves o Mechanically doing your job but not motivated to do more because you know its futile to try • Retreatisim: Adjust to strain by dropping out of the system. Losing confidence in it and your ability to function in it o Alcoholisim, drug addiction • Rebellion: Performs acts intended to replace the current cultural goals and means with new ones o Political activist or domestic terrorist o Cultural Support Theory  People learn mainstream norms through communication • We are in university because we have learned this value as part of our life cycle  People learn deviant behaviour from others as well • Norms that justify stealing at work  Our society is culturally complex- we are taught not to steal, but sometimes we justify deviant action –convincing ourselves that the rules do not apply to the situation  Has been more successful than strain theory in explaining “white collar crime”  BUT – can be tautological (a circular argument)  They were deviant because of their deviant values; you know they have deviant values because they exhibited deviant behaviour  Also, when researching, it is difficult to get people to admit to having deviant values o Control Theory  Assumption: humans are greedy, hurtful, and deceitful • Lying and cheating are the easiest ways to get what you want • Sexual excess and drug abuse are more enjoyable than studying and working hard  They will engage in deviant behaviour whenever they can get away with it  The question switches from • Why do some break the cultural rules most of us engage in? • To • When does social control break down, allowing people to be their true evil, hedonistic selves? • Network of “conventional others” • The tighter and more numerous network you have, the more social control is exerted, the less likely deviant behaviour will be • Notice: there is no way to separate “control” from “cultural learning” and “social inclusion”. • So, your acceptance of on or the other of these theories depends on your assumption about human behaviour • How Cults Seduce at Risk People (suffering from strain or anomie) o 1. Boundaries  Cults, unlike most modern social phenomena, have a closed boundary. You’re either in or out. This creates passionate solidarity.  "She wasn't my daughter any more,“ the mother of a Moonie recruit alleged. "They took her over - body and soul. She was swallowed up.”  THE FIREWALL • Cults build a protective barrier • Only those committed and close to the core are fully in the know • Outsiders are kept largely in the dark • The firewall is also an information firewall • Only those inside know the truth. Outsiders should not be listened to  “BIG BROTHER” • Cults define ‘what we’re not’ • A common tactic is to define a big enemy in the outside world • Attacks from the outside only reinforce the paranoia  INTERNAL VS EXTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS • Members have privileged information • Communication is intimate, extensive and frequent • Outsiders are often fed a completely different story o 2) Initiation  SELECTING RECRUITS • Cults focus not on ‘who we can get’ but ‘who is ready’ • People going through dramatic life change make excellent recruits; new students, recent divorcees.... • 85% of people who join a cult do so through a friend or acqu
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