Sociology 3321F/G Lecture Notes - Wage Labour, Social Inequality, Labeling Theory

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1 Feb 2013
Sociological Theories of Deviance
• Symbolic Interactionist Perspective
1) Cultural Transmission Theory
2) Control Theory
3) Labeling Theory
• Functionalist Perspective
1) Structural Strain Theory
2) Illegitimate Opportunity Theory
• Conflict Perspective
1) Social Inequality and Deviance
2) Capitalism and Deviance
Differential Association or Cultural Transmission
Differential association refers to how some people -- those having closer contact with a subculture --
come to reflect the deviant norms by which they are socialized.
• Differential association theorists claim that subcultures may teach norms for behavior defined as
deviant by the larger culture.
Labeling Theory
Labeling theory states that deviance is a socially constructed process in which social control agencies
designate certain people as deviants, who, in turn, come to accept the label placed upon them and
begin to act accordingly.
• Labeling theorists focus on the process of becoming deviant. Behavior is not deviant in and of itself;
rather, it is defined as such by a social audience.
Primary deviance the initial act of rule breaking
Secondary deviance occurs when a person who has been labeled a deviant accepts that new identity
and continues the deviant behavior
Control Theory
Control theorists take deviance for granted and concentrate instead on explaining why people
• Control theorists argue that conformity occurs when people have more to gain by it than they do by
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