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Deviance & Normality Lec 2 .docx

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Dwayne Pare

D&N: Lec 2 – Definitions and Methods Recent Problems at York  Student refuses to participate with women on religious grounds  Professor response: Defer to school  School’s response: Support religious position  Media response: Supports women’s rights and warns of future discrimination  The point? Allows for debate and redefinition of societal values and institutional responsibilities. Diversity in the discipline  Sociology as a very diverse discipline  Few accepted truths or methods compared to physical sciences or even similar disciplines like anthropology or psychology  It seems likes you can study anything and call it sociology. Example: “Pictures of Pigeons” Jerolmack  Looks at the introduction of pigeons to North America and their place in modern cities  Human interference makes them better adapted to the city.  Sociology? They reflect our own patterns in the city.  Pigeons as a reflection of human social organization What is Deviance?  Deviance as a residual category: What’s left over.  Broad definition: Actions met with disapproval and some sort of social control  No single definition used for this course: Defining deviance will depend on the theories and methods used How do we know deviance when we see it?  Origins in common sense: Even important scientific theories can start with a gut reaction.  Compare to our own frame of reference, Sociologists must take a step back. Perspectives on Defining Deviance  Absolutist: Widespread consensus on right and wrong informed by a “collective consciousness”  Relativist: Different groups have different definitions. Context becomes important in definition  Social power: Tied to Marxist ideas. Laws are created and applied to protect the interests of powerful groups. Studying Deviance  Some issues not present in other types of behaviour.  Tendency to hide their actions  Some flaunt their status due to a specific agenda  Both reflect the “elusive quality of deviance” Deviance is hard to understand because of it’s hidden or obscured nature. Deviant Subjects  Often protective of information  Deviants rarely analyze their own behaviour  May be defensive or reactionary about their behaviour  Often engaged in dangerous activities. Risk for the researcher Statistical Vs. Theorretical Generalizability (Horsburgh)  Statistical: relies on probabilistic sampling  Claims that observed patterns can be applied to those people not studied.  Theoretical: Relies on in depth investigation  Claims that concepts and theories can be applied to scenarios and contexts not studied  Both are scientifically rigorous and useful Interviewing  One on one, panel, paired  Focus on personal interpretations of deviance (their own or others’)  Range from set questionnaires to semi-structured to open ended Advantages  Can allow the deviant to express themselves in their own words.  Allows questions to be formulated as you go.  Can allow the researcher to develop a rapport with the deviant. Disadvantages  Deviants can often be misleading or secretive ex: gamblers  Possibility of leading the respondents. Rules of normal conversation don’t apply  Typically low sample sizes may bring into question the statistical generalizability of the study. Researchers have to focus on the theoretical generalizability of their findings. Example: Patricia Adler  Drug dealers next door  Spent more and more time with the man and his clients / colleagues  Started lending money and writing letters of reference to help with legal problems, even started looking after his kids. Case Studies  Looks in depth into the deviant careers of very small number of participants (usually one).  Often involves tracing the biography or career of the deviant  Looking for insight on how the individual makes sense of their position in society Advantages  Amazing amount of detail  Greater information on the mirco processes involved in larger observed trends  Some forms of deviance are very hard to study  Flexible Disadvantages  Lacks statistical generalizability  Dependence on research subjects makes for a complicated relationship  Difficult to “triangulate” the information: Verification from different viewpoints  Demand on time and resources Participant Observation/Ethnography  Spending time with deviants as they do their deviance  Comes from anthropology: immersion in tribal life  Adopt a role within the group: Tearoom trade: Watchqueen  Exposure to the everyday life of the people that you are studying Advantages  Exposure to unknown dimensions of deviance  View
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