Sociological definition of deviance
- Deviance is non-compliance with social norms that provokes a negative
social reaction, and an attempt to control the behavior and/or punish
- Crime is deviance sanctioned by law.
- Object 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”).
- E.g. dye your hair pink in color in high school
- Social deviations: non-compliance to social norms that elicits an
- E.g. using computer to buy shoes in class
- Conflict crimes: non-compliance to law; members of society disagree
about its seriousness and the appropriate sanction.
- E.g. smoking weed, downloading music without paying for it
- 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
- 1. Why do some people engage in deviance?
- Structural-functionalist theories: strain, cultural support, differential
- Symbolic-interactionist: transactional, labeling
- 2. Why don’t all people engage in deviance?
- Structural-functionalist: social control
- How are behaviors 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
Cultural Support Theory – Sutherland
- Subcultural theory Deviance
- People become deviant because they are exposed to learning experiences
that make deviance more likely, i.e. to a subculture of deviance.
- Rationalisations: deviant people learn to believe that their behavior is
- E. g. the company desife it, SEARS is a large company that they are afford
- Knezevic: a weak critique: tautological (values are inferred from behavior,
behavior is explained by values)
- Differential association theory: stron