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SOC Chap 7 Notes.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Malcolm Mac Kinnon

SOC – Chap 7 Notes: Deviance and Crime The Social Definition of Deviance and Crime  Deviance: breaking a social norm; not merely a departure from the statistical average, but rather a violation of an accepted rule of behaviour  Informal punishment: mild and may involve raised eyebrows, gossip, shaming, or stigmatization o When people of Stigmatized, they are negatively evaluated because of a marker that distinguishes them from others  Formal punishment: results from people breaking laws- which are norms stipulated and enforced by government bodies. Ex: jail time or community service  John Hagan classified various types of deviance and crime along 3 dimensions: o Severity of the social reaction (ex: murder) o Perceived harmfulness (ex: tattooing) o Degree of public agreement about whether the act is actually deviant (ex: smoking marijuana)  John Hagan’s analysis allows us to classify 4 types of deviance and crime: o Social diversions: minor acts of deviance such as participating in fads/fashions like dying your hair purple o Social deviations: more serious acts that a large number of people agree are deviant and harmful. Ex: a boy having long hair in Japan o Conflict crimes: deviant acts that the state defines as illegal tht whose definition is controversial in the wider society. Ex: having a beard in 17 century Russia was illegal o Consensus crimes: acts widely recognized to be bad in themselves; little controversy over their seriousness.  Social Constructionism: a school of thought that suggests various social problems, such as crime, are not inherent in certain actions themselves. Instead, some people are in a position to create norms and pass laws that stigmatize other people. o Power is a crucial element in the social construction of deviance and crime  White-collar crime: an illegal act committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation. Ex: embezzlement, tax evasion, fraud, etc.  Street crime: robbery, assault, arson, etc. Offenders are disproportionately lower class  White collar crimes result in few prosecutions and convictions because: white collar crimes take place in private (usually by executives) and corporations can afford legal experts, public relations firms, etc. to bend and pass certain laws  Information about crime rates is taken from the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey.  There are several drawbacks of relying on official crime statistics: o Much crime is not reported to police. Victimless crimes: gambling, prostitution, and use of illegal drugs. o Authorities and the wider public decide which criminal acts to report and which to ignore. Cracking down on drugs does not mean more drug deals- it means there is more police focus in this area o Changes in legislation can create new offences or amend existing offences  Self-report surveys: respondents are asked to report their involvement in criminal activities, as perpetrators or victims  Victimization surveys: people are asked whether they have been victims of crime.  4 explanations exist for the decline in Canadian crime rates: o The “war against crime” is increasingly being fought by large numbers of law enforcement agents who have more man power and technical sophistication now o Young men are most prone to street crime and Canada is aging and the number of young people in the population has declined. o Since 1991-93 there has been economic growth which may have favoured a decrease in crime rates. The variable most strongly correlated with crime rate is the male unemployment rate. o Declining crime rates may be linked to the legalization of abortion  Social control: methods of ensuring conformity  The 15 to 24 year old age cohort is the most prone to criminal behaviour (for males and females) Explaining Deviance and Crime  Why is engaging in crime attractive; why does deviance occur at all? There are 2 main types of theories: o Motivational theories: identify the social factors that drive people to commit deviance and crime o Constraint theories: identify the social factors that impose deviance and crime on people  Motivational Theories: o Strain Theory: extends on Durkheim’s idea that an absence of social norms (anomie) causes an increase in deviant behaviour. Cultures often teach people to value material success, but do not provide enough leg
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