Lecture 7 – Thursday, November 1, 2012
Sociological definition of deviance
o Deviance is non-compliance with social norms that provokes a negative social
reaction, and an attempt to control the behaviour and/or punish the
o Crime is deviance sanctioned by law
o Objective and subjective concepts of deviance: moral status accorded thoughts,
actions, characteristics, and persons
o E.g. commit a crime, go to jail
o Definition changes over time; things considered okay before are deviant now e.g.
dropping out of high school, domestic violence
Types of deviance:
o Social diversions: harmless non-compliance to social norms; it does not elicit
sanctions (“fads”) e.g. extreme piercing
o Social deviations: non-compliance to social norms that elicits an informal
sanction e.g. amish people leaving their community
o Conflict crimes: non-compliance to law; members of society disagree about its
seriousness and the appropriate sanction e.g. smoking marijuana, pirating music
o Consensus crimes: most members of society agree on their seriousness e.g. first
degree murder, rape,
Is theft a consensus crime? Is murder a consensus crime?
o Cf. Sacco and Horton: ordinary and extreme deviance
Theories of deviance:
o Why do some people engage in deviance?
Structural-functionalist theories: strain, cultural support, differential
Symbolic-interactionist: transactional, labelling
o Why don’t all people engage in deviance?
Structural-functionalist: social control
o 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
Structural-functionalist theories: strain, cultural support, differential association. Post-modernist: discourse as means of social control normalized by the powerful; minority views are unheard. Conformity: the norm; accept cultural goals and accept the means to achieve it. Innovation: accept the cultural goal but reject the means because they don"t have the means to meet the goal; e. g. people who sell drugs. Ritualism: people who have given up on becoming wealthy, but they are law-abiding people; they don"t steal/engage in fraud; they do the best they can with what they have. Retreatism: reject both cultural goal and means of achieving it; don"t believe wealth is an important goal and don"t care about getting most profitable job; focus more on artistic/spiritual development; retreating from society e. g. monks. Rebellion: reject societal goals but accept legitimate means to achieve whatever goals they have e. g. sign petitions, organize rallies: critique: fails to account for middle-class and upper-class crime and deviance, see strain theory table in textbook.