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6 - Critcal Theories of Deviance.odt

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Sociology 2259

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Critical Theories of Deviance 1. Conflict Theories 2. Power-Reflexive Theories 3. Feminist Theories Conflict Theory of Deviance • Macro-level approach • Focus on FORMAL social control of deviant behaviour • Social order is maintained through management of conflict between different groups in society • Focus on WHO has the power to create rules that deviantize those with less power • Conflict theory of deviance includes 3 basic elements: ◦ Social rules emerge from conflict and serve the interests of society's powerful groups ◦ Members of powerful groups are less likely to break the rules because... ◦ Members of powerful groups are more likely to break the rules because... • Society is divided into groups with competing interests • Social rules emerge from this conflict • However, the dominant group organizes society in order to preserve and reproduce power • Therefore the rules serve powerful interests and deviantize those that are powerless • The goal of a conflict approach to deviance is to explain crime within economic and social contexts including: ◦ The connections among social class, crime, and social control ◦ The role of government/criminal justice system (CJS) in creating criminogenic environments ◦ Bias in the justice system ◦ The relationship between capitalism and crime rates • Karl Marx (1818-1883) ◦ Bourgeoisie (“ruling” class) and proletariat (“powerless” class) have an unequal relationship due to power differentials ◦ Marx: capitalism would result in proliferation of criminal laws to foster the interests of the bourgeoisie: ▪ Laws would prohibit behaviour that wasn't conductive to ruling class ▪ Laws would legitimize formal social control by the ruling • Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) ◦ Portrayed crime as a function of social demoralization ▪ Acollapse of people's humanity reflecting a decline in society ◦ The brutality of the capitalist system turns workers into animal-like creatures ▪ Without a will of their own • Willem Bonger (1876-1940) ◦ Society is composed of ruling class and inferior class based on the system of production ◦ Laws reflect the interests of the dominant class ◦ Capitalism encourages egoism and criminality by equating status with property ◦ Capitalism creates greed --> crime! Modern Conflict Theory • Prominent during the 1960s • Influenced by: ◦ Labelling theories ◦ Research on social inequality (racism, sexism) and social injustice ◦ Social and political upheavals of the 60s and 70s • Sees crime/deviance as RATIONAL behaviour due to the nature of society Group Conflict Theory (George Vold) • Vold: “Criminality is the normal, natural response of normal, natural human beings struggling in understandably normal and natural situations for the maintenance of the way of life to which they stand committed.” • Behaviour that conflicts with the ideology of the dominant group will be defined as deviant/criminal • Deviant behaviour often associated with an ideological clash between dominant and less powerful groups “Core Struggle” (Austin Turk) • Dominant group must convince “powerless” group that norms/rules are legitimate ◦ Coercing doesn't work • In order to convince the “powerless” of the current rules, dominant class uses: ◦ Ideology ◦ Hegemony ◦ Power ◦ Authority • Results in the “powerless” having a “False Consciousness” Instrumental Marxism (Richard Quinney) • Laws and definitions of deviance are a “tool” of the ruling class • About serving interests of those in power and criminalizing the behaviour of those with minimal power • Laws and definitions of deviance are instrumental to those making them • A“deviant” label is a means through which to control the powerless Social Reality of Crime (Richard Quinney) • Definitions of behaviour (conformity and deviance) made by authorized political agents • Deviant/criminal definitions reflect interests of powerful • Degree of threat determines mode of enforcement • Less powerful = more deviant • Media disseminates “images” of crime = consensus • Crime is “constructed” Nuts, Sluts, and Perverts (Alexander Liazos) • Fascination with individual deviants deflects our attention from social structure and “power” • Ignores “top dogs”—power holders • Sociologists should be focusing on “Covert Institutional Violence” Structural Marxism (Stephen Spitzer - 1975) • Rules protect capitalist system • Not just about protecting the “ruling class” • Interests usually coincide, but ruling class is not monolithic • Deviant labels attached to anyone who threatens the capitalist system Contradictions of Capitalism • Education • Factory system • Problem populations: ◦ Social junk ◦ Social dynamite Control Overproduction of Deviance 1. Normalization 2. Conversion 3. Containment 4. Organized Crime Pluralist Conflict Theory • Emphasizes multiple axes of inequality and power in society—needs to focus on more than just the economic • Intersectional approach to deviance/crime • People can be deviantized/powerless on the basis of other social categories, ex: ◦ Gender ◦ Race/Ethnicity ◦ Sexual orientation ◦ Religion Cultural Conflict Theory (Thorstein Sellin – 1938) • Criminal law vs. Conduct norms • Results in culture conflict • ex. recent Shafia honour killings in Canada Power-Reflexive Theories (Pfohl – 1994) • Aka “Critical Poststructuralism” • Emphasize intertwining of knowledge and power • Existence of multiple “discourses” (bodies of knowledge) • BUT...power relations determine which discourses are legitimized • 3 tasks of power-reflexive analysis • Foucault – power through discipline • Benthan – Panoptic Prison Panoptic Power and Discipline (Foucault) • Society modelled like a panopticon • Pervasiveness of regulatory mechanisms to ensure “conformity” • Disciplinary power allows for supervision, control, and correction of deviance • Always potentially under surveillance Limitations • Ignores individual differences ◦ Variation in response to powerlessness ◦ Why people commit particular crimes/acts of deviance ◦ Opportunity, intelligence, skills ◦ Individuals/groups not totally dominated, dominating • Focus on making the powerless amendable to “correction” • Tends to be hi
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