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Chapter 7 – Crime and Deviance.docx

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SOCI 1010
Charles Battershill

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Chapter 7 – Crime and Deviance
Hells Angels example that shows how some people are very deviant. Page 166-167.
What is Deviance:
Violations are dealt through methods of social control; systematic practices developed by
social groups to encourage conformity and to discourage deviance. Social control can
take place through socialization, whereby individuals internalize societal norms and
values. Negative sanctions furthermore punish non-conformers and rule-breakers. The
Justice System is a formal means of social control. Most of the time, informal means of
social control shape our behavior.
E.g. Magicians cannot protect their tricks, therefore they setup informal social control by
agreeing not to share tricks with the public.
All societies have some degree of deviance – any behavior or condition that violates
cultural norms in the society or group in which it occurs.
We are familiar with behavioral deviance; a person’s intentional actions. E.g. losing rent
money by gambling. (They knowingly do so)
People may be considered deviant if they express radical beliefs. Extreme right and left
wing politician groups are examples. Also, teachers that are removed from their
classrooms for denying the Holocaust.
Defining Deviance:
Deviance is relative. Varies from place to place, time to time, group to group.
E.g. Witches in the Middle Ages. Racist comments that were socially accepted.
Deviance is very ambiguous.
Some forms of deviant behaviors are defined as crimes: an act that violates criminal law
and is punishable with fines, jail terms, and other sanctions.
Juvenile delinquency; (Subcategory of crime) refers to a violation of law by young
people under the age of 18.
Functionalist Perspectives on Crime and Deviance:
Strain Theory: Goals and Means to Achieve Them
According to Robert Merton, in a smoothly functioning society deviance will be limited
because most people share common cultural goals and agree upon the means of reaching
The Strain Theory: people feel strain when they are exposed to cultural goals that
they are unable to obtain because they do not have access to culturally approved
means of achieving those goals.
For example, material possessions and money. People seek access of these goals through
deviant means. Strain theory typically explains the deviance of the lower classes.
Upper classes also are affected by the strain theory. Conrad Black.
Opportunity Theory: Access to Illegitimate Opportunities
Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin suggested that for deviance to occur people must have
access to illegitimate opportunity structures; circumstances that provide an
opportunity for people to acquire through illegitimate activities what they cannot
get through legitimate channels.
E.g. One cannot afford wealth through jobs, therefore turn to drug dealing as a source of
Opportunity expands on the strain theory by pointing out the relationship between
deviance and the availability of illegitimate opportunity structures.
Control Theory: Social Bonding
Has Durkheim roots. Durkheim pointed out the importance in social bonds in his Suicide
Deutschmann applied this to the theory of Frontiers as well. Small Canadian communities
that were colonized because of an economic resource have a higher rate of violence and
crime due to the absence of societal controls (family, churches).
Most theories ask, why do they do it?
Control theories as, why dont we do it?
Social bond theory holds that the probability of deviant behavior increases when a
person’s ties to society are weakened or broken.
According to Hirschi, social bonding consists of:
1) Attachment to other people
2) Commitment to conventional lines of behavior, such as schooling and job
3) Involvement in conventional activities
4) Belief in the legitimacy of conventional values and norms
Females were excluded of his study, but other studies performed on females prove this.
Symbolic Interactionist Perspectives on Crime and Deviance
Edwin Sutherland. Differential association theory states that individuals have a greater
tendency to deviate from societal norms when they frequently associate with persons who
favor deviance or conformity.
E.g. Safe cracker example on Page 174. And biker gang example.
Labeling Theory
Two processes in the definition of deviance. (1) Some people act in a manner contrary to
the expectations of others. (2) Others disapprove and try to control this behavior.
Labeling theory suggests that deviants are those people who have been successfully
labeled as such by others. The process of being labeled is directly related to the power of
the people labeling and the person being labeled.
High school “gangs” example on page 175 where some students are labeled as likely to
success whereas others aren’t. The students that aren’t are arrested more often and are
frowned upon simply because they are from low income families. Both groups
participated in the same activities.
Primary deviance is the initial act of rule breaking.
Secondary deviance occurs when a person who has been labeled as deviant accepts
that label and continues the deviant behavior.
For example, a person might shoplift, and not be labeled deviant and with therefore
continue to do so in the future. Secondary deviance may occur when someone is labeled
as a shoplifter and continues to do so.
Labeled a drug user > Cannot get a job > continues to do drugs.
Moral Entrepreneurs – persons who use their own views of right and wrong to
establish rules and label others as deviant. E.g. MADD.
Moral Entrepreneurs often create moral crusades – public and media awareness
campaigns that help generate public and political support for their causes. E.g.
people against abortion, prostitutes, etc.
Symbolic Interactionist perspectives are concerned with how people learn deviant
behavior, identities, and social roles through interaction with others.
Conflict Perspectives on Crime and Deviance
Conflict theorists feel that people in positions of power maintain their advantage by using
the law to protect their own interests.
The Conflict Approach
Marx influenced the conflict approach. Crime is an expression of the individual’s struggle
against the unjust social conditions and inequality produced by capitalism.

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