January 8, 2014
What is Deviance?
Deviance is a social activity that violates a social norm or expectations
Ex. Going to an oilers game and standing up to cheer
Deviance is contextual: really depends on the situation.
Conformity: Is a social activity that complies with a social norm. Key idea: just because you’re
conforming doesn’t mean you’re doing something bad
Social norms can be formal (law)/informal (ridicule). Sanctioning is what reinforces norms. Don’t
want to deviate or you’ll be made fun of.
Deviant does not mean bad, wrong, perverted, sick or inferior in any way. No inherent moral
quality to being deviant. Ex. It’s deviant to be a genius because it’s not a norm
Fighting in hockey deviant? Right now no, but in 20 years maybe
Deviance is context specific! One situation it’s okay and in another it is not.
Couple making out during riot in Vancouver. Deviant? Depends on your own thoughts and
Body building deviant? steroids used in the body building culture it is not deviant but from
someone outside it would seem so.
Teen Drinking: more than 50% will drink underage. Statistically common so is it still deviant? In
general we say it’s bad or abnormal but realistically it is quite normal. It’s against the law but not
a very deviant breach. Alcohol Poisoning is much more deviant. also drinking and driving
*No scientific criteria explaining what deviance is.
Norms change over time, across cultures, and from place to place.
Example: smoking a cigarette; drinking a beer; sexual assault.
These things are fluid: constantly changing
Ie) gay marriage: very deviant 20 years ago, now, not so much
Ie) drinking a beer in a Muslim country. Unacceptable
Ie) Sexual Assault: Used to be acceptable to hit your wife (property of man) or punish children
but now there are rules against that. Now there is a rule against a husband raping a wife
Are there any universaly deviant behaviours? Murder? Except honor killings, self-defence,
Hitler(war), friendly fire in war or collateral damage.
Incessed: always wrong.
Point is that there is not a lot of things that are universally deviant*****
Often associated with eachother or related
What is the difference between crime and deviance?
-still an issue of context.
Crime is one type of deviant behaviour
Deviance is a much broader category, and refers to violation of norms (not just laws).
Ex. Tennis and sportsmanship. Supposed to shake hands after match. Even though it is a tiny
violation and its not a crime it hurts your reputation within that community.
Are there behaviours that are illegal but not deviant? crime is a category or deviant act What is a “sociological” perspective on deviance?
Level of analysis: focus on patterns in society rather than individual explanations (macro and
Group, community, societal levels.
Normative: diversity of perspective (there is no consensus on the right theory).
The ethical or what is right and wrong. How we look at deviance depends so much upon
what we think or what is normal.
Historical and contextual
Reflexive: be aware of own personal biases and such. Where you grew up and how you grew
up will shape understanding. Don’t erase these thoughts, just create awareness.
Objective: something inherent in the act that is deviant. often universal. We identify these as a
people. We have a consensus about what is deviant. “We know it when we see it”
Subjective: We can’t see deiviance, not without being taught it. We are taught to see things as
deviant because we were told to. Structural codes. Nothing inherent. Ex. Growing up in a
Muslim community: taught that drinking is bad but move to Canada and its everywhere. Nothing
inherent about this because it just depends on how you were raised and what you were taught.
Deviance as Objective
-Statistical rarity(analysis): if something is rare, it is deviant.Ex. most people don’t use heroine
therefore it is deviant
What’s the problem with this definition: what is rare but not deviant? being a genius. Being left
handed. Red hair.
There are things that are common that are still deviant. under aged drinking.
-Harm: the more harmful, the more deviant. the problem with this? Changing definitions that are
harmful. Ie) hitting child in a classroom. Used to be rule and authority, now it is assault.
Outlawing prostitution makes it more harmful because it is illegal activity.
-societal reaction: if we can get general consensus then we can understand what deviance is.
Problem? Not everyone participates, and a subculture problem. I think heroine is wrong but
someone that does it does not think it’s wrong.
-Normative violation (high and low consensus): norms are rules that people should follow. More
than just illegal or not. Things like you should respect your elders or shake hands upon meeting
someone. Weakness of all of these: if claiming its objective fact then it should be inherent
in that act as deviant. problem is our ideas of deviance are always in flux or changing.
Lacks consensus on definition. Not scientific.
Friday January 10th, 2014
Deviance- no universally agreed upon definition, criteria or purpose (contested field)
Objective- universal across all cultures. something inherent in the act that is deviant. norms are
always changing. ex smoking, once accepted now not.
Subjective- not something we see, have to be taught it. its a construction. has to be some sort of
process in making and defining and teaching someone to see something as deviant.
Two Questions Deviance tries to answer:
why do some people deviate from the norm? ex cults - why join? why do they exist? why are
people drawn to it?
why are some people/activities categorized as normal and others as deviant - process of
defining deviance. if you wanted to know why cults exist you would use objective - "that's deviant. don't do it."
subjective doesn't really work because it assumes that cults are deviant acts. brackets off how
we got to this deviant act of cults. number 2 leans towards subjective approach.
Deviance as Social Construction...
Subjective - looks at the process by which certain behaviours are treated. making it deviant
takes time/construction. sense inherent within this that we could have constructed these deviant
acts in different ways. alternative histories. totally reasonable to imagine in Canadian society
that we criminalized alcohol and make MJ legal - since alcohol is more harmful. if we're running
with objective criteria of harm, we could make an argument that tobacco and alcohol are way
more deviant. subjective wonders why we have made alcohol an accepted norm while we
outlaw less harmful things. moral entrepreneurs put it on the agenda to discuss.
ex anti masterbation movement - spent tons of time and money to try to make it so a kid cannot
touch themselves. think mast is deviant. what's the logic of this movement? why create these
devices? problems could arise "becomes an idiot...feeble broken voice, dwarfed and crooked
body... sores, etc". if you touch yourself you turn into a monster.. => stamping out sexuality - its
threatening, especially childhood sexuality. road to the dark side. things different now. based on
-> complex nature of power in society of deviance - church defining it, adults controlling
childhood sexuality- child not a full citizen they don't get to choose where to put their hands.
now parents don't intervene.
How would you define power in this case? material difference in resources, **ability to make
someone else do what you want them to (law) - have your wishes and desires filled
(politicians..?), having a powerful voice in the media, conflicting interests in society can make us
divide them up: gender, class, ethnicity/race, regional, etc.
Becker developed labelling theory to explain how labels are internalized. labels take on a
master status. labels we apply to people actually change how people see themselves and their
very identities (master status - major form/way someone identifies with themselves)
ex of master statuses: athletic - coach treats you as go to goal scorer on your soccer team, over
time people understand you over time as lead scorer, leads to future success in field. once
labelled you see someone through that prism.
poor student - student does awful in math, gets Cs suddenly gets A. automatically assume they
cheated. reinforcement of label.
prisoners- by labelling someone as a criminal you actually make them fully identify as that label,
you become a con. that changes how people see you. try getting a job post-criminal label.
**all reflect ability to name and define people by label.
after 911 brownish people became potential terrorists/threat. at borders, increased attention to
that. changes perception of what a terrorist is/what a threat might be.
Becker: primary deviance - first do a robbery (act)
secondary deviance- caught and labelled as criminal. identify self as that. once you identify as
that you start to take on role. Goffman big researcher here.
negotiation or debate. dancing in unison - when we agree. mosh pit - when there is no
party of subjective approach - look at societal process of creating and reacting to deviance.
interactions, debates among different groups of people in society.
example Raves- some kids take E at them, some overdoes and die. some people want to
partake in this activity but negative outcomes can result. Groups/different interactions: Rave organizers are supporting it, have interest as defining raves as some way acceptable, and
participants, artists making music VS parents (of participants), politicians (voting mass/deal with
issues on political agenda), police, MEDIA** (shape way raves are portrayed - can create moral
panic, can put it on political agenda as issue that needs to be regulated or leave it under the
radar). most powerful role of shaping nature of that debate.
In general, not every single act of deviance funtion in these steps but most do:
powerful people want to define it as deviant
social typing - labelling
social control - regulation (formal and informal)
Step 1: Powerful People = Moral Entrepreneurs
take an active leadership role on putting something on the agenda. specific groups that get
issues out there and want to drive them home. ex MADD (mothers against drinking and driving)
way you do this is to manufacture and make a discussion about issue. (media helps with this-
one of main places where we discuss what gets put on agenda)
ex "war on drugs" - lots of drug use that is acceptable, some are not. Groups: Media, Lobby
Groups (lobby politicians)/Politicians (make the laws), Scientists (idea that they are speaking
scientific truth and have scientific knowledge on their side),
ex of Scientists playing ME in society: tobacco use (real scientists give stats, tobacco scientists
try to counter them.. lose), doctors telling people to get their flu shot, religious institutions (not as
powerful as in past but still important) ex Abortion, human sexual rights, stem self research, etc
where life begins. spiritual issues not counted by scientific explanations.
Commercial Interest - people working around boundaries for advertisement to get message out.
corporations having a hand in media (how that might shape way media talks about issues
concerned) *externalizing machine - cost/benefit profit model can lead people to do things they
wouldn't normally do. obliged to make profit leads to deviance.
dance can change.
Step 2: Social Typing
trying to transform how we think about an issue. ex you used to think masturbating was ok, now
its not you'll shrivel up and become a monster. done by moral entrepreneurs.
-> three steps: A) first there is a description in understanding of the issue.
with drugs we have addition, certain framing on how we understand drug use. gives negative
connotation - something evil about them that make people want to use them/destroy lives in
doing so. drugs make people go crazy. vast majority of drug users actually normal citizens. way
we frame/describe problem of drug use for certain illegal drugs. good drugs (pharm drugs,
alcohol) vs bad drugs (cocaine, MJ, etc) part of the description as well. In Canada we made
these decisions - laws on drugs - in 1920s. not based on science.
B) Evaluation- labelling
labelling people who do drugs as drug addicts. If you used drugs at all you've got potential to be
an addict. even with one use.
C) Prescription/ Regulation - how we control our labels
criminal sanctions for illegal drug use, medical approach to treatment and then commercial
model where people try to make money off of drugs - acceptable w/i moderation.
Step 3: Social Control
ME create social typing and then regulation of that problem. usually defining something as
deviant and want to regulate the bad thing. social control can be formal and informal. not all
about developing policies and laws. informal ways to deal with social problems. ex of informal
social control: peer pressure to do/not do drugs. DARE programs. Monday January 13, 2014
Why are people deviant? What is the process of this construction?
Deviance Dance, functional approach to deviance.
Deviance Dance- whenever there’s an issue at stake - be it a rave, drug use, gay marriage, etc
issues that arise that are contentious. interactions, debates among different groups of people in
three important processes:
1. powerful people - politician (make law), media, moral entrepreneurs, scientists, religious
2. social typing- trying to take something ex rave and making it deviant. dance party -> sex,
drugs, bad. changing image to deviant act from something it wasn’t.
3. social control- regulations we put in to deal with issue we now see as deviant.
what have raves trying to do to make them safe? more ambulances outside place. instead of
hiding underground we bring them in. dehydration issues being taken care of.
other elements of social control: laws of criminalization of act/site. not suitable to hold this kind
of event here - bring in bylaws. diff ways of control: harm-control: bring in security guards,
ambulance. depression - take it away completely. (issue is they’ll take it underground again and
will not have security guards and ambulances)
deviance dance changes how we understand and regulate deviant acts.
ex rise of “harm reduction” approach. for drug, we put people in jail if they are caught dealing.
problem is: all scientific research on drug use is that addiction is much more complicated than
just slapping them on the risk and expecting them to stop. treat drug use as a medical problem.
rather than putting them in prison put them in rehab.
ex needle exchange is hard reduction - prevents spread of diseases. preventing shooting up in
an alley by providing a safe place to do it with medical help near.
drug counseling can help you get off them if you want.
Blind Men and the Elephant poem. why are there diff theoretical approaches and why is not
necessarily a contradictory thing? six blind men all grabbing diff parts of elephant and saying it
resembles something diff. in the end, all disagreed. all kind of right, but also kind of wrong.
Theory in Soc... why use theory in Soc?
three diff ways of looking at society - cant take one and say that’s the best. they all ask diff
questions and all have diff assumptions on how to study society.
1. Positivist- Durheim. studying society like a science/organ. closest attempt to follow
natural science model. find cause and effect. explain behaviors and why things happen.
ex why do people deviate?
2. Interpretive- founded on the idea that meaning is made in major actions. if we want to
understand an act we have to understand e/ person in that act prescribes to. meaning is
made in everyday conversation and life. fundamentally opposed to Positivist - have to
understand how people interpret the event.
3. Critical- moves away from other two: point of social theory is to make society better and
society is founded on conflict and inequality so study that as basis of society. based on
groups fighting for resources/power. sees deviants as a place where diff groups are
battling for power. would say: witch hunt is an ex of diff groups of people battling for that power to define who was a witch. women targeted, man-dominated society - women
were kept in place.
Positivist Theories of Deviance...
focus on explaining the act of deviance. closing linked with social control. why people are more
likely to join a cult? why is this linked with social control- regulate deviant behavior? well, if you
understand deviance then you can control/preventing it in some way. break into:
1. Functionalist theories
2. Learning theories
3. Social Control theories
-> Emile Durkheim
1858-1917. first founder of soc itself. attempted to understand rapid changes in modernity.
writing at end of 19th and beginning of 20th cent. events relevant to understanding of theoretical
approach: industrialization, urbanization, massive and rapid change in society. people are
moving to cities to work in factories (factory labor on rise), rise of immigration. young single men
with money living there - like fort mac. gambling, prostitution, crime. some didn’t get jobs.
looking at rises in suicide rate was a focus of him. fundamentally changes how
community/social order words. “rapid change disrupts social order”.
-society is like an organism (bio metaphor) - in general its functional but when it becomes
unstable that’s when social problems occur. explaining rise of crime and suicide rates. break
down of social order. focused on social order.
- mechanical and organic solidarity- keep people together. previous smaller scale societies;
order maintained by mechanical solidarity. you know everyone, everyone aware of clear cut
culture in that place. widespread consensus among people who live there about right and
wrong. easy to have moral order due to agreement. break rules, you’re out.
when you move into cities you have a ton of new views interacting in one space. organic
solidarity: division of labor. capitalist keeps up together because we each play a functional role
in society. if we all live in our roles we fit in that division of labor and maintain order in society.
when things are dysfunctional, we get things like unemployment.
*rapid social change creates issues
-> Durkheim Theory of Deviance/ Anomie
- there is a certain amount of deviance that is okay, functional in society. good thing. kind of
counterintuitive - going against norms of society? that’s bad. give us lessons. expected.
ex youth recreational drug use - small scale like alcohol and MJ. vandalism. meh, they’re letting
off steam. if they repress it, they’ll become a criminal later in life. what would he think of
Vancouver riots after Stanley Cup? Probably ok with it. let it go. never tells us what right amount
of deviance is. sometimes having scapegoats is okay - when you deviate from norms of society
you should be an outcast. ex serial killer, pedo
• when there are dysfunctional levels due to rapid social change, anomie (lack of norms)
emerges. no clear set of criteria to tell us where something is functional/not. could be a
stat change in murder? ex crime is a result of people lacking norms. how do people lack
norms? basic changes to family structure, friends. rise in individualism is a big change,
less attached to the community and less attached to norms of society. uses this as
• key ex of anomie: rising suicide rates (lack of social integration - not part of community
groups, don’t feel attached to place- and lack of moral regulation)
Anomie - people disconnected from society. big factor. forms major basis for all functional
theories. Extension of Theory (Durkheim french) - Robert Merton’s Strain Theory (American)
• takes anomie and is more concerned with role of institutionalized goals. says deviance
comes from failure to reach/achieve society’s institutionalized goals (values that we
generally are all supposed to try and achieve. middle class lifestyle: have a job, house,
family, car. not super rich, comfortable). things most people want to achieve in society.
- people who reach these goal generally live better lives. want to reach them because of this.
we set up legitimate means to reach/try to achieve goals. what are some of these? going to
school to achieve these. education, apprenticeship training, family is rich? you get that money.
• anomie (for Durkheim = no more norms)- results when there is imbalance b/w goals and
means. when too many people want to reach that goal but there are no more means.
you’ve created this desire/goal but there isn’t enough ways to achieve legit in society. ex
lots of access to means of education but will we have enough jobs in the end?
• result of anomie for Merton: goals become more important than how one attains goals -
will resort to deviant ways of achieving goals if it means they get them.
• structural constraints limit opportunity to certain groups of people (inequality) thats where
strain comes in b/w the means and the goals. forcing people to adapt. ex you live in poor
neighborhood with lots of crime, don’t have access to books, fam needs money so you
have lots of jobs and don’t do as well in school. don’t have same access to opportunity.
strain results. when strain exists we adapt.
View Chart - explanation for different forms of behavior. left side: cultural goals: institutionalized
goals. top is means (education). accept goals of society and have means to achieve =
conformity. if you accept goals but lack means then you get innovation ex drug deal - want to
get rich but no means. illegitimate means. if you have means but reject goals = ritualism. go
about life/job don’t like it though. don’t reject them. retreatism- reject cultural goals of society but
don’t have goals to achieve well in society. ex drug use. rebellion you do something completely
innovated. Martin Luther King
January 15, 2014
Finish Merton’s theory of deviance
Learning theories of deviance
Robert k Merton’s Deviance Typology
-cultural goals assisted by the means to achieve them.
-the means are to accept or reject and the goals are to reject or accept.
-the categories are conformity, innovation
-innovation: trying to reach cultural goal but do it by a rejection method
-ritualism: if you have the means but you reject the goals Ie) going to LA to be a celebrity and
end up a porn star. It is the most questionable and difficult to understand.
Ex. You’re making a lot of money but you hate your job so you’re not achieving what you should
Retreatism: reject cultural goal and means to achieve it. Ex. Going off the grid
Rebellion: new goals and new means. Ex. Ad busters: rejects celebrity culture
Adding to Merton’s Theory
-Differential Opportunity Theory (Cloward and Ohlin): people have difference in means ex.
Three gangs -general strain theory: (agnew) what does it add to mertons theory? Adds an emotional element.
When people go through it, its because they have some negative emotion associated with it. Ex.
Getting a job in a market but you keep getting rejected and become angry so you turn to
violence or drug dealing.
-Status Frustration Theory(Cohen): ex, in a school and aware of successful people and that can
breed frustration which leads to deviance.
Social Learning Theories
-most popular in the textbook
-common sense theory of reward/punishment ex. Reward in school = stickers. You want to have
the most. Ex. Encouragement by teacher=reward. Punishment=being singled out by teacher or
going to the principles office. Through these things we learn what kinds of activities are
appropriate and which are not.
-idea that we model behaviour we see
-all behaviour is the result of definitions(that is, what is acceptable and what is not)
-focuses on the people we associate with, especially our friends when we’re younger. Ex.
-reinforcement: rewards/punishments. Rewards: skipping school and not missing anything. Bad
deviant behaviour that’s being reinforced.
Differential Association Theory
-Theory of Crime
-deviance is learned from group membership
-association: who you ahng out with or associated with
-ex. “deadheads”:follow bands around and play music. Encourage people to do this and their
shows are different every single time.
criminal gangs. You have friends that are criminal or deviant
Neutralization Theory(it’s a social learning theory)
-Sykes and Matza
-built from Sutherlands idea that deviance is learned in group interactions
-focus on MOTIVES- specifically, the rationalizations for deviancy
-because people know they’re being deviant they need some sort of rationalization to make it
seem okay to oneself.
-over to course of time you’re learning to do these deviant things.
-allows one to actually accept the deviant acts. Ex. Doping in sports.
Techniques of Neutralization
-Denial of responsibility (shifting the plane to someone else) ex. Baseball player that was called
on doping shifted the blame to the clinic. “I had to dope because everyone else is doping”
-shifting the moral and ethical blame from yourself to someone or something else.
-denial of injury: “im not hurting anyone”
-denial of victim: there is no victim. “they deserved it” Ex. Robinhood defence. Steals from the
rich to give to the poor. There is no victim. -condemnation of condemners: hypocricy. Lots of enhancement goes on in society so it seems
kind of hypocritical to point out only doping in sports. Ways of justifying ones deviant behaviour.
This is the reason people can be deviant while knowing its wrong
-appealing to higher loyalties: “I wanna be the best and I don’t care what it takes for me to get
Akers: Social Learning and Structural Factors
-differential social organization (pg. 57)
-what are structural factors? Access to education (determines life course like income, job
satisfaction, criminality), social community(not everyone has access to a good neighborhood),
economic or class fixed.
-differential location in social structure (women and men in work field or ethnicity and race in
work field. Our society is not fully equal) where you are located determines outcomes.
-structural variables: anomie: normlessness: when you lack a cohesive set of norms.
-differential social location: refers to group membership or peer group. Connecting social
learning theory with these differences.
Major limitation of social learning model: some people are deviant and there is no reason they
January 17, 2014
Example: physical appearance
Social control theories
The weakness of positivist theories of deviance
Paradox of appeance
Appearance is a major social determinate in life experience, but much of it is out of our control
-people are who are more attractive have an easier life. Determines how people treat us.
-all bodies “fail” to meet the ideal(eg. Too big;to thin;not toned enough)
-why are we always flawed? Because it’s all to do with reference “beauty is in the eyes of the
-you feel bad about yourself, we have a product for you. Commercialization of beauty. Now
which is image is considered dominant or acceptable.
-not one universal standard of beauty but instead conflicting ones.
-Different ideals are often in conflict (eg. Health and beauty).
An issue of deviance or conformity?
-no matter what your body type is there is always negative connotations that come with it. Ie)
skinny =bitchy, vain etc. fat=insecure, giving, passive
Social Control Theories
-What restrains us from deviance? Why are we not deviant?
-Why don’t all people deviate? -Assumes most people want to be deviant and that there are these social forces which prevent
or stop us from doing this. Takes the position that deviance is appealing.
-Assumption: deviant behaviour is appealing and exciting for everyone
-Higher levels of social control= reduced deviance.
Social Bonds Theory
-A different type of social control theory
-social bonds keep us from deviating. What are social bonds though? Community, friends,
family, attachment to other people, attachment to norms and values of society. You wanna
succeed and be invested.
Elements of bonding:
1. attachment(community and schools). Much of this research is with youth and
delinquency(sex/drugs=delinquent). Those that don’t have attachment to sports or
religion tend to be more deviant.
2. commitment: you’re actually committeed to these goals and beliefs. Think back to Merlin.
The more committed you are the less likely you are to be deviant. ie) being accepted into
university because you got good grades in high school. Jobs, mortgages, etc.
3. involvement: if you’re not involved in something you’re most likely going to be deviant.
ie)school activities, sports, getting involved with the community. Ie) violent kid taken to
be a football player and he becomes really good at it. The point is to be involved in
things that are considered accepted or okay.
4. Belief: you actually believe in the values of this society or subculture. If you don’t, as
Mervin shows you’re more likely to deviate or retreat. There is no reason or underlying
goal that is driving you.
-Social bonds reduce criminality: religious participation, attachment to parents, owning
property, being married, being a parent, being satisfied with your job. This does make
sense because all of these things attach or commit you to society. A problem? If you feel
overwhelmed by all of the commitments you have where is the breaking point? More
stress can cause meltdowns. What about subcultures that are bad but not necessarily
deviant? punk rockers, tattoos etc. So if you’re not married, don’t have kids then that’s
not a good thing? Another big problem: you could be all of these things and still be
criminal or deviant. ie) parenthood. Can’t afford stuff so you commit crime to pay for it.
Self -Control Theory
-Gottfredson and Hirschi (general theory of crime)
-major theory in criminology
-takes social bond theory and applying to individual characteristics to self-control or a lack there
-Low self-control(impulsiveness, risky, temper, enjoy simple tasks).
-There is no way of distinguishing if someone is risky or impulsive-like someone who wants to
go skydiving which is considered acceptable compared to someone who commits a crime.
-there is a very small definition of criminality. What are some criminal acts that aren’t considered
impulsive, temper driven=corporate criminals!!! Potential to collapse our whole economy.
Another problem with this definition or something we’re missing is where’s the structural
difference or the sociological problem of class, gender. Lower end neighborhoods vs high. If you
were to use this theory nowadays you would have to tweak it to eliminate its problems that we
-parenting: number 1 issue in all these psychological theories. Why is this a major issue in this
theory? Or why is it so important? Provides us with selfesteem. Bad parenting can breed all
these bad traits like temper, impulsivity etc. -related to the “problem behaviour theory” (Richard jessor): USA has large surveys of american
teenagers. Found that there is a cluster of children which do delinquent behaviours or are
problem children. Why would we critique this theory? First and foremost, at the point of
definition of how it defines crime and delinquency in a very narrow way. Small pety acts of sex
and drug use. It cant explain all the other forms of deviancy. Why someone might join a cult or
bad subculture. This is why they’re quite limited is because the defitinon is limited
-Problem: how does it explain socially acceptable forms of risk-taking?
Positivist Theories of Deviance: What about this problem of too much attachment?
-Positivist theories assume that conformity is inherently good (“just following orders”).
-People who commit deviant acts often feel a lack of attachment to norms. What would be a
weakness in this approach to deviance? Why is dangerous to assume all forms of conformity
are good? Ie. Cults. Religious attachment should be a good thing but in this way it is not. You
are the overly attached to this set of values. Another example, stalkers or fetishes.
-all of these thoeires are circular. They all assume that all behaviours lead to good behaviours
but don’t say how.
-overconformity: leads to social problems when people are too attached to certain values or
-examples: anorexia, body dysmorphic disorder, steroid use among bodybuilders. There are
biological and psychological reason for anorexia. In studies of body image and anorexia
example of papau new guineau. In this place they had no link to the outside world. There was
no cases of anorexia. But when western ideas were introduced they had a sharp increase in this
problem. This is an example to too much attachment to a bodily ideal that is set by society.
Could say it’s an institutional goal that Mervin talks about. What if some institutional goals are
bad? It kind of assumes that these goals should be good? Overattachment can lead to serious
-bodily dysmorphic disorder: complete disconnect between what your body actually looks like
and how you feel about it. Also connected quite strongly to media.
-steroid use among athletes: deviance or conformity? If you asked body builders they would
most likely say they’re doing it because everyone else is which is a conformity issue.uy
January 20, 2014
Outline: Interpretive tradition
The “gang” problem (why we should think of it as a problem of definition)
Goffman’s approach (Goffman reading next week)
Interpretive Theories of Deviance
-Focused on the problem of the definition: Normal/Deviant.
-Objective: understand social, political context of definition -Definition of a problem forms the basis for all knowledge and research. INterpretivist focuses
on how we come up with things being deviant. In the natural sciences we can isolate things
because they don’t depend on interpretation. The problem with looking at things like gang
activity is there are environmental or social factors.
-two kinds of interpretive questions we can ask:
1. Construction of a social problem itself (eg. Construction of gangs) how this activity becomes a
2. Constructions of deviant/criminals through culture and socialization (eg. Deviant career).
Meaning and the Straightedge Community
-Symbolic interactionist approach: In one word they’re focused on MEANING MAKING. We
make meaning in everyday life. Also a microstudy so it studies small groups. We make meaning
on a person to person basis. The meaning of an event is different in a classroom compared to a
bar, or your living room at home.
-Outsider: look like a punk rocker: the straightedger looks like a punkrocker (leather jackets,
-Insider: physically pure lifestyle: reject hedonist point of view: rejects physical impurity
-Meaning making activity: what does a pure lifestyle mean? No alcohol, no drugs (pharmacy or
recreational), no premarital sex because it’s associated with disease. Saving your body for
marriage is a form of purity. Not religious doctrine but just an idea of purity. Also be against
tattoos or plastic surgery.
-No impurities: drugs, sex, body
-Variable Interpretation: vegan; anti-racist/war; animal rights; even violence.
-Less concerned with broader social constructions (economy etc. )really focused on micro level.
Person to person things
What is a Gang?
A group of individuals who believe in the same ideas, consistency, involves a hierarchy, involved
in deviant crime etc.???Broad definition of people hanging out
-Outlaw (the old west):formed gangs. This is when the police first existed and there were
wanted signs. “preurbanization”
-Classic Gang (early 20 cent). Relates to first waves of immigration. People formed gangs to
protect themselves.. ie) Italians. Associated with ethnic groups. These gangs weren’t
necessarily criminal but they were also associated with social assistance for communities. It
was a time where social welfare didn’t exist so they did things for the community. The gang
provides services but also might have to do some violent things.
-Modern Gangs (50s and 60s): Sutherland says gangs come from anomie or normlessness. te
classic gang is normless. They were excluded from society so they form groups to “live”. Often
turns out to be deviant. Don’t share middle class values
-Criminal gangs(70s and on): violence, drug trade, dealing guns/drugs, prostitution, ownership
of stripclubs. Large scale. Ie)hells angels: make tons of money with guns, drugs and
prostitution. Most serious hang type
-Racialized gang (80 and on until present): in media there is emphasis on latin or African
American gangs or white youth.
-Youth gang(80s and on): these kids are often doing same activity that other kids did except
now they become labeled as deviant and such. We start redefining things that kids have always
-Mythical Gang (90s and on): we just created the idea of the gang. Fabrication or creation of our
imagination. Don’t really exist as a thing. Can sometimes be mimicked in real life. Much is for
show or reputation. Boundary Making: taking some (white youth) activities out of the definition (eg. Mobs,
fraternities). Whats acceptable and what is not. *****Any process where you’re defining in or out,
who belongs in that category.
-problem: Police often collapse all group-like activity into the violent/criminal definition, focused
Creating the gang problem
-Creating a “problem” that is disproportionate to its actual size and danger.
-context: drop in crime rate; rise in fear. Very low crime rate in Canada in general. At the same
time of crime rate dropping but people are more fearful of crime than ever. This is considered
one of the safest time periods in history. Some distortion between image and reality here that
people are seeing. Many other countries where this is not the case.
-Gangs establish a pressing need for police funding. If crime rate gets too low then people might
start asking why all this money is being thrown to police. Every time someone is publicly caught
it establishes a need for funding.
-Justify “zero tolerance” and criminalization of all “gang” activity (eg. In schools). No ifs ands or
buts. This policy becomes problem when defining when violence is. Kids kicked out of schools
over snowball fights. Now we’re treating these problems different
-Racialization of crime: association with crime and certain ethnic groups. You’re defining what
people or kids do as evil.
-Young people as evil: today we think a snowball fight is criminal activity whereas 30 years ago
it would’ve never been thi way.
-Master narrative about crime and deviance: allows people to understand the broader
understand of crime or deviance in our country. Any time that there is crime it hits the news and
will remain for a week. There might be a low number of crimes but we hear about them
repeatedly. This is where the difference of image and reality comes in).
-example of the constructivist approach
-whichever approach you take, you come up with different reasons or answers
-Labelling theory: idea that we establish and create labels and apply them: formal application of
a label. Reproduce and create deviant acts. Ie) throw snowballs and start fistfight well now
you’re a gang member. Now that you’re labelled you will continue on that track of life. Could
create more deviance.
-Primary and Secondary Deviance: primary is unnoticed, secondary is noticed or labelled.
-Master status: secondary is labelled as the master status of that person.
-Example: becoming a “heroin addict” . They use and become addicted and we think of it in a
1. Entrance (meaning): the meaning maker: learning how to become a heroin addict. It’s not that
easy. Learn how to obtain, use, deal with OD. Learning how to be deviant from other people.
2. Management (identity; activity) when you start identifying as an individual of this type.
3. Exit (re-define) :where you would re-define yourself if you weren’t that act anymore. Being
deviant is like a career. Ie)going to school to become a lawyer
January 24, 2014
Critical Approach to Deviance
Outline: Finish off Faucault and Social Control
-Feminist and Post-Modern approaches
-The saints and the roughnecks
Power Reflexive Theory of Deviance: Michael Foucault
-knowledge is power (discourses): ie) hockey player and you want to be professional who are
the experts you would seek out to achieve this goal? Other athletes because they have the
experience of going through the process. That’s one type of expertise=experience, or the
coaches or managers. Or a nutritionist because you need to be healthy and get the right amount
of sleep(there knowledge is secondary knowledge)
-The power to name, define, classify (eg. Homosexuality)
-What can we learn about Damiens torture and the training of the soldier? Why did he talk about
these two things? What was the claim or purpose of these two descriptions? Different forms of
social control and how they’re related to normalization. There has been a transformation in
Idea version of a prison and this is the key model of power in society
In center are guards watching each individual cell.
-if you want to succeed as a prisoner or be successful you must follow and fall in line.
-the power of this is that you start self-managing or doing self surveillance
-ie) going to the dentist and them telling you you need to brush and floss. After your dentist visit
you go home and self surveillance the amount that you brush or floss,
-the arrangement of desks all separate so you can see each individual and what they’re doing
-Panopticon: constant watching of behaviour (eg. Camera) becomes the “new normal”
-Surveillance=nomralization (eg. Self-surveillance and weight management)
-the power of the camera is that its there or you believe you’re being watched.
-Insatiable demand for more knowledge in modernity (knowledge=power).
-Surveillance technologies as a solution too social problems. Ie) gang activity in schools, let’s
put in cameras so we can see whats going on, control and change what’s happening.
Pre-Modern and Modern Social Control
Pre-modern control: torture, shame, execution Modern Control: institutionalization, training,
Locus of power(premodern): central, sovereign, lawmodern: decentralized, knowledge,
Objective premod:deterance, elimination modern: conformity, rehabilitation
Gender and Deviance
-Most writers and subjects focus on men and focus on male activities or domain.
-Discourses vary according to masculinity and femininity. Men and women have a different set
of norms and expectations. Ex: little boy being active=”need to let off steam” and its considered normal where as if a little girl is being aggressive or whatever it is considered deviant. “not how
girls should act” and they shouldn’t be really athletic. The expectations are different.
-What is normal/abnormal is gendered.
-Example: woman who doesn’t want kids; man who enjoys being a stay at home dad.
-Disagreement on key issues: the feminist sex wars.
Post-Modernism and Deviance
-Postmodernism is a response to rapid change in society after WW2. Postmodernity is kind of
like rapid change that happened post-war. Or a response to the changes that have taken place.
-From industrial to consumerist society. Relates to change in the economy. The big
transformation here is that the consumers are more about manipulation of images and
marketing or being able to place your image correctly in society. Relates to declining set of
-end of “truth” (too many voices, too many experts)
-society lacks a clear moral code
-Is deviancy still possible if there is no clear cut moral code guiding behaviour? Being post-
modernists there is no attempt in answering this question.
The Saints and Roughnecks
-who was observing all of this?
-classic study in labelling theory which supports how you’re labeled makes a huge difference in
your outcomes. Even though the potential for all of these students was the same.
-What is this about?discretion is very important: whenever wer’re faced with deiavnce in real
world setting itturns out that authorities have a wide range of discretion that they use. With the
saints, teachers gave them higher grades than they deserved on exams. This was an example
of discretion. They were always let out of class because they were perceived as doing extra-
curricular activities. Same with the cops: seen as they’ll grow out of it or it’ll get better.
Everything was the opposite for the roughnecks. There was even different perceptions from the
parents: you are going to be successful why are you doing this approach vs you are acting like a
-Why did the community react to the Saints like they were good and the Roughnecks like they
were criminals? The roughnecks did everything in the middle of their town whereas the saints
left town and went to the city or were nice to the authories. The roughnecks were always mean
to the authorities or people walking by. The saints knew how to play the game and how to avoid
detection. Partly because they had a car and aprtly because they were seen as good kids in the
community, they also knew how to interact with the police. They knew how discretion worked.
The roughnecks were quite happy to engage in conflict. Why did they have a bad relationship
with the police? They had a biased judgement. They felt like they were being unfairly isolated.
Ie) the police telling them they were loitering. The way they dressed was very different for the
class they were raised in. it was all about demeanor.
-Why did the saints and roughnecks in fact habe different career trajectories that lived up to
these expectations? Because the saints were always reinforced that they would achieve great
careers and such. Or that they would great so they were.
January 27, 2014 (Goffman and Deviance)
• Read article for Wednesday!
• Erving Goffman • Dramaturgical Approach! Know well for the paper
-born in Alberta
-Presentation of self in everyday life
-micro level of analysis
-focus: the interaction between individuals and societal norms.
-interested in how individuals deal with labels of categories in real life.
Reproducing social Order
-Goffman is interested in why people rarely deviate from commonly held expectations. Why
do so few people deviate? There’s always the possibility for it so how is social order
-Go back to Fouccault: how is it maintained? Correction and discipline and trainging towards
the norm and those who fail to meet norms are isolated and educated. If they still don’t meet
the norms they are criminal.
-Goffman’s answer to the same question: Rituals ad Routines of everyday interaction;
learned through socialization. So common that we don’t even realize that we do them. Ie)
waiting in lines at a bank. We don’t even think about this until someone rushes and cuts in
-Example: avoiding confrontation: we have lots of things and techniques that people use to
avoid confrontation: ie) a bad date so you say “I’ll call you”. Or putting in headphones so you
don’t have to talk to anyone. Or apologizing when someone else runs into you. This changes
by culture but the idea is that as long as you’re aware of norms it stays that way.
-example: greetings: goodbyes, hellos, handshakes, hugs etc. without these social
interaction would eb a little rough around the edges.
Example: maintaining face: being embarrassed or feeling shameful. Ie) forgetting something
and looking at your phone so it looks like you had a reason to go back.
-“All the world is a stage”
-Goffman thinks we are all actors throughout life.
Social Life As Theatre
-Identity is a performance
-We are all actors on a stage:
1. Roles: lead, co, supporting. In order for the production to work all roles must work
together. Same for in life. Ie) teacher role and student role. This is actually a performance.
Students role is to take notes, ask question. If this wasn;t the case it would disrupt the
“roles”. Ie) gender role. People may paly roles of masculinity and feminimity. If you fail to
play these roles that you have basically failed perfoamnce and it jepordizes social order.
2. Script: The things we must do in every day life. The simple things: getting in line, giving a
proper greeting. If you go off script and yell at cashier then you are not interacting properly
and you will not get what you want. An example of a social dance.
3. Audience: people are seeing us and what we are doing. There is only a performance is
there is an audience. We act differently in front of others.
4. Sets: the context in which all behaviour takes place. Ie)work, school, home, library, bar.
Each of these sets is like a scene with a different role and a differernt script. Goffman is trying to combine scial interactionist that context and our role in that is going to define a
5. Props, makeup and costumes: how we dress matters because you’re resenting yourself
for the correct scenario. Also goes both ways. Can be underdressed or overdressed. How
we look is like a cue and gives up whether we are following or not following the scene, script
- One must perform a role and follow the conventional rules expected by the audience. ie)
-If you don’t follow the rules then it either looks bad or you’re fired
-In a restaurant, no matter how bad you’re being treated you need to maintain composure.
It’s all about the service.
-Backstage: situations without and audience, where one can step outside of a ”role” and act
more authentically. |Goffman is saying not all in