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Chapter 14-Crime and Deviance notes Jan 28

Course Code
Sheldon Ungar

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January 28th, 2009
Chapter 14: Crime and Deviance
x How definitions and perceptions of deviance change over time and how disagreements
often arise over those definitions
x Rules change and people often disagree with the rules
x How people react to deviance tells us about how society is organized; power, privilege,
resource distribution, social order
Deviance and Crime As Outcomes of Social Control
x Nonconformity becomes deviance when it produces a negative social reaction,
x Informal Social Control: occurs through interactions among individuals and includes
expressions of disapproval, avoidance
x Formal Social Control: practiced by state; through official organizations, agents, criminal
justice system- relies largely on external control
x Durkheim
o Deviance performs positive function in society
o Rule breaking by groups members= increases social solidarity/integration
o Serious violence of a groups rules typically bring people together in collective
expressions of outrage and loss- reminding them of their common values
confronting deviance- group highlights its standards of right and wrong to its
o Societies need deviance- to allow them to adapt to the changing world
o Can also lead to chaos, conflict, instability
x Deviance is created through social control
x Crime is a special case of deviance- defined by social norms that are formalized in
criminal law
x Conflict Theorists: analyze the relationship among
o Power struggles over defining deviance
o Organization of social control
o People defined as deviant
The Social Construction of Deviance and Its Consequences
x Moral Crusades: initiated by individuals or grassroots organizations acting as moral
crusaders or claims makers
o Push for creation of deviance definitions by making claims that certain
behaviours/conditions violate fundamental moral standards- require formal
recognition as wrong
o Ex: MADD- educate public about costs of drinking, secondhand smoke,
o Success of moral crusade depends on the extent to which claims makers can
enlist the support of groups with substantial political/economic power
x Status Conflict and the Social Construction of Deviance
o Conflict at roots of deviance
o Marxist Theorists: conflict between classes, capitalist control
o Status Conflict Perspective
Weber, Vold, Turk, Quinney
Various social/eco/pol/eth/rel, compete for control over definitions of
right/wrong- deviance/conformity
Winning groups can advance their interests over losing groups- gaining
greater access to power, resources, authority
WG- legitimate their moral authority, determine types of social controls
applied to deviance
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o Erickson
Definitions of dangerousness (psychoactive drugs) were socially
constructed by moral crusaders- rather than based on scientific evidence
The Consequences of Deviance Defining
x Labeling Perspective: organized around the idea that societal reactions to deviance are
an important cause of deviance
o Rather than looking at the events and conditions in peoples lives before they are
defined as deviants- labeling directs attn to what happens after someone has
been labeled deviant
x Primary Deviance: occurs for any variety of reasons but that does not lead to be labeled
a deviant or to see yourself as deviant
x Secondary Deviance: occurs after ppl have been labeled as deviant and start to view
themselves as deviant
x Master Status: is a status that stands out above all others- overshadowing other statuses
in the eyes of ppl who interact with the deviant
x Process by which reactions to deviance can stabilize and reinforce such behaviours- black
males, mental illnesses, homosexuals
x Shared experience of being labeled deviant can also bring ppl together in collective
o Efforts to resist label
o Collective responses may lead to Subculture- those labeled deviant embrace their
identity and reject their labelers (ex: biker gangs, skinheads, cyberpunks)
o Collective response by those labeled deviant can have (+) consequences ±
rejection can bring ppl together
Why Do People Engage in Criminal Behaviour?
x Motivational Theories- identify social factors that motivate or push people toward crime
x Control & Opportunity Theories- identifying social factors that control or prevent peoples
criminal behaviour
x Motivational Theories
o Strain Theories (Merton)
Most criminal behaviour occurs because a social context exists that
encourages or pushes a person toward crime
Social structures exert a definite pressure upon certain persons in the
society to engage in non-conforming rather than confirming conduct
Some societies have higher rates of crime= social structures fail to
provide ppl w/ legit ways to attain valued goals
Anomic: many people feel strained because they are not able to achieve
what they have been taught to value or desire
Innovation: one that will most likely lead people to commit economic
crimes such as burglary, selling drugs
Strain theory does not tell us whether someone experiencing strain will
chose to drop our, rebel, innovate, or conform
o Learning Theories
See criminal as a socially formed response to an environment
Differential Association (Sutherland): the process by which people learn
deviance through exposure to more definitions favorable to deviance
than definitions unfavorable to deviance
Crime occurs when people have experienced more procriminal influences
(ex: if you chose to become a car thief- it is because you have learned
from others the tricks to the trait)
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