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Deviance - Theories and Research.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Ivanka Knezevic

November 1 , 2012 Deviance – Theories and Research Results Sociological definition of deviance -Deviance is a non-compliance with social norms that provokes a negative social reaction, and an attempt to control behavior and/or punish the perpetrator -Crime is deviance sanctioned by law -Objective and subjective concepts of deviance: moral status accorded thoughts, actions, characteristics, and persons Types of deviance -Social diversions: harmless non-compliance to social norms; it does not elicit sanction (“fads”) -Social deviations: non-compliance to social norms that elicits an informal sanction -Conflict crimes: non-compliance to law; members of society disagree about its seriousness and the appropriate sanction -Consensus crimes: most members of society agree on their seriousness -Is theft a consensus crime? -Is murder a consensus crime? -Cf. Sacco and Horton: ordinary and extreme deviance Theories of deviance -questions: 1. Why do some people engage in deviance?  Structural-functionalist theories: strain, cultural support, differential association  Symbolic-interactionism: transactional, labeling 2. Why don’t all people engage in deviance?  Structural-functionalist: social control 3. How are behaviours defined as deviant?  Structural-functionalist: conservative control theory  Neo-Marxist: radical control theory  Post-modernist: discourse as means of social control – normalized by the powerful; minority views are unheard Strain theory – Merton -Lack of fit between the accepted cultural goals and socially acceptable means available to achieve these goals -This strain creates four types of coping strategies: innovation (crime), ritualism, retreatism, and rebellion -Critique: fails to account for middle class and upper class crime and deviance Cultural support theory – Sutherland -Subcultural theory -People became deviant because they are exposed to learning experiences that make deviance more likely i.e. to a subculture of deviance -Rationalizations: deviant people learn to believe that their behaviour is morally acceptable -Knezevic: a weak critique: tautological (values are inferred from behaviour, behaviour is explained by values) -Differential association theory: stronger association with deviant than to norm abiding persons leads to higher likelihood of deviance Social control theory – Hirschi -Deviance occurs b/c people have opportunities to deviate and they find such opport
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