DEVIANCE, HUMAN RIGHTS AND SOCIAL CONTROL
LECTURE 1: SEPTEMBER 15TH, 2011
STUDYINGAND DEFINING DEVIANCE
➔ What is deviance? This is difficult because it can refer to many different things. There is no
complete definition of deviance.Acriminal act is usually a form of deviance but not all acts that
are deviant are criminal. The laws and criminal code allow us to spot crimes much easier
compared to deviant acts.
➔ Some people are interested in deviance because they live in fear and want to protect themselves
even though we are aware that the crime in society is declining. Others have a curiosity about
deviant behaviour. People are fascinated by the “horrible” like murderers because of the media.
Vampires in the media is a fantasization of death and is tied to the Goth culture where death is
something that is taken seriously. Some study deviance because they witness it around them
and their co workers. It captures people's attention. Example: going against gays and then being
exposed as someone who is gay is saying one thing and doing another.
➔ Deviance is tied to power, social movements, and mass mentality. Example: student who
behaved like a guest in their own home or students who convinced their teacher that they were
going to commit a crime. Though we know certain messages are deviant we may still follow
➔ IMPORTANT: “Outsiders”-bikers, prostitutes, drug addicts, mentally ill people etc. Others
argue that it is not just one class that exhibits deviant behaviour. There is an inherit class bias
among the topic of deviance.
➔ IMPORTANT: the way in which deviance is understood by scholarship affects the way in which
we choose to control and manage it. Theories of deviance have policy implications. Example: if
we think that deviant behaviour is based on something biological this can cause for eugenics
programs (sterilizing and eliminating certain sectors of the population).
➔ NO SUCH THINGAS PURE OBJECTIVITY. NO OBJECTIVE TRUTH THAT IS
➔ Achievement of value neutrality. We use these value to describe life. “Slums”, “whores”,
“pervert”. DO NOT SAY PROSTITUTE SAY SEX TRADE WORKER. There are some
features that may or may not apply. Sometimes if something is deviant it is statistically rare.
Example: drinking to the point of being completely drunk. Harmfulness-if a behaviour is
harmful to you or others it is more likely to be seen as deviant. Example: terrorists. One
person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter. Sometimes its called ontological harm-the
sense of reality that surrounds us. Example: the Earth is not the center of the universe. This
disrupts the way people think. It is the destruction of knowledge. Deviance does not just refer to
people. Deviant plant-marijuana. Sometimes people of difference are themselves placed into the
category of being deviant. Example: political figures promising jobs to new Canadians but
referring to them as immigrants.
➔ Behaviours that are deviant are not as harmful as the cost of controlling them. Example: war on
drugs use vast amounts of money, destroy plants and farmland, ruin people's lives. Trying to
stop this deviance is more harmful than the deviance alone. Example: parents controlling their
children causing for a home that is not at peace to develop.
➔ IMPORTANT: Protection is the archetype of domination.
➔ Social norms and standards; the common sense in the community. Sometimes people break the
norms. This is therefore seen as a threat to some. Th dominate controlling the majority of the
population is seen as deviant. Deviance is positive because it pushes the possibilities and allows us to grow.
➔ IMPORTANT: what gives others the right to impose their particular morality (someone's
cultural or religious taste). Example: same sex marriage is protested in the streets.
Homosexuality cannot be controlled. To control someone's sexuality is only to become
repressive thus why protection is the archetype of domination.
➔ When you try to tell someone they are wrong does great destruction. Rejection from parents
whose child is gay is the leading cause of suicide.
➔ Social reaction: how society responds to certain behaviours deemed to be deviant. Negative,
denial, romanticized etc. Social status plays an important role. High status: more tolerant
because we want to trust them.
➔ Problem with the term leadership: contradicts ideology of democracy. Being led by someone
who is at the top of the pyramid.
➔ Consequences in terms of labeling Example: we make assumptions of people when labeling--
>stigmatization or deviant designation. We are using power to construct them in a way that may
be unfair. The system of law does this most effectively.A criminal record would be the most
problematic deviant designation. 9/11 caused for people whom are from the Middle East to have
troubles traveling. Why do they have the right to interrogate you at the boarder? Suspicion is
key in this case.
➔ OBSERVERS who see behaviour that violates these standards and people who impose these
standards. Cannot have deviant designation without power. No universal definition but it is a
➔ Why are people frightened by certain kinds of deviance? People are afraid of change and things
they do not understand. Culture- a system of values and beliefs we rely on to survive. Others
see deviance as the key to salvation and survival; cultures that died out because they did not
adapt. People are resistant. It is a relative phenomenon. What was deviant in the past may not be
deviant today. Example: black leather jacket signified a biker gang and now tattoos and such are
seen as body art. Example: public attitudes towards smoking marijuana have chan