• Focus on the Underdog. More openly than interpretive theories
• What produces underdogs? - Capitalism via exploitation
• Look at globalization, look at issues, who are we going to help in this world?
Who will we intervene on behalf of.
• Deviance, poverty, greed, disadvantage, injustice ... are systematic and
• Try to expose the systems and structures that do the exploitation.
1) Rules are made by the powerful whether they are legal or customary. - we
are equally not allowed to steal, live under a bridge or sleep on a park bench.
However, they are not equal in how they affect people.
2) Rules are part of a system that preserves the preferred way of life for the
powerful (VERY different from the social contract – greatest good for the
greatest number. This theory argues the opposite)
3) People who break the rules do so out of need or protest against a system that
oppresses them (example homeless person sleeps on street instead of shelter
– does not feel safe there, not welcome due to mental illness or substance
Deviance is not about sick people, or under control, it is about people who are
attempting to make the best out of unequal opportunities.
Emphasis of this theory is on Formal Social Control (Law, justice system, different
forms of punishment)
This is a macro approach. Looking at bigger issues.
Conception of Social Order: social order is maintained through management of
conflict between various groups
Concept of Society: Divided into various groups with competing interests
Dominant Group: The one with the most power and authority
Conflict theories share 7 propositions:
1) Power is the most important explanatory variable.
2) Groups with clashing interests, values and unequal resources compete –
producing winners and losers 3) Groups struggle to have their own definitions of right and wrong established
as part of the status quo (For example struggle of gun control laws.) (think of
Moral entrepreneurs) (another example abortion control – making their
beliefs better or more right than yours)
4) Definitions of crime and regulations are weapons in the struggle b/w groups
for a share in the power system
5) Deviance is neither normal nor inevitable (people are deviant because of
problems in society – THE OPPOSITE of functionalism)
6) The source of deviance does not reside in the body or mind – but rather in
the unequal relationships between people.
7) Critical theories are involved in a long term process of building grassroots
resistance to transform existing structures and ideologies of domination and
Praxis – to combine knowledge gained by science research with activism.
“You should not separate what is from what ought to be” - thats where you get
praxis. There should be activism involved. Prof says this is the basis of SJP, -
research and then active work to make change
Public sociologist – most famous – C. Wright Mills. - Taught at columbia, rode a
motorcycle. Hated his peers. They would take research money from government or
big business. He wanted to make a difference and change people's lives.
Praxiological research is geared at the analysis, exposure and resistance to
oppressive social structures and systems
Praxiological social scientists should be studying the REAL nature of society and
expose its strucures of domination and lift what is called the veil of False
False consciousness – people don't realize true reality. For example fish living in
dirty water, they do not know the water is dirty. This is connected to hedgemonic
Marxist Conflict Theories
⁃ all deviance stems from alienation.
Perception of the individual: The individual is a product of the material conditions of
Marx theory of alienation
1) alienation of the worker from the product (you do not have control over the
product or finished product – this is up to the owner of the company) 2) Alienation of the worker from working ( your position is more trivial, it is
meaningless no satisfaction in their work)
3) Alienation of the worker from himself (species being) – it is a human thing.
People need to use their imaginations, be creative. We need to feel
purposeful. Innate potential to develop. There is a lack of control over your
work and time.
4) Alienation of the worker from other workers. There is no social relationship.
Now it is competitive.
The masses of society are workers.
Alienation creates deviance.
Is inevitable in a capitalist society
capitalism breeds crime
crime and deviance are a response to an unjust society
Marxism and Deviance: Willem Bonger
Capitalism creates harmful deviance because it makes everyone in the system
Only by taking the means of production out of the hands of a few and distributing
resources based on need will structural based, greed driven deviance be eliminated
what would be left is a small residue of psychopathic forms of deviance
he did not think women commit as much crime basically because they are less than
Neo-marxist critical theory: Frankfurt school
Frankfurt Germany – 1920s
Moved to New york due to hitler era.
Studied false consciousness. And how that was a part of Hitler's Germany.
Studied marx as well. Why didn't the revolution that marx predicted come to
fruition Marx was right about the serious internal contradictions of capitalism... what he
underestimated was the extent to which false consciousness could be fostered and
Frankfurt school really rejected positivism,