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Introduction Notes on FINAL - Definitions, Concepts, and Theories

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University of Guelph
SOC 2070
Norman Dubeski

Social Deviance - Chapter One Reading Notes - Week One Chapter 1 Notes - Introduction • what is deviance ? - deviance is behavior, beliefs, or characteristics that many people in a society find or would find offensive and which excite, upon discovery, disapproval, punishment, condemnation or hostility • deviance is behavior, beliefs or characteristics that are likely to generate a negative reaction in others • deviance refers to the process by which the actor’s, the believer’s, and the possessor’s character is tainted, stigmatized, and inferiorized • the sociology of deviance looks at informal and interpersonal reactions to behavior, beliefs and traits • criminology looks at formal and legal reactions to crime, the latter being possible arrest, conviction and imprisonment • ex of deviance: engaging in acts of prostitutions, expressing a favorable opinion of the Ku Klux Klan, bribing a government official, using drugs, robbing a bank, etc. • the study of deviance is about making rules, breaking rules and reactions to breaking rules • deviance is a process, not specific forms of behaviors • deviance describes what is likely to happen when people break rules that are held in a society or among certain social circles within a society • some actions are predefined as deviance because of their meaning (ex. murder we regard it to which the word refers as an unauthorized, deviant killing; crime is by definition an illegal, illicit act • denying the reality of deviance is entirely mistaken for three reasons: 1) we can find widespread agreement that certain acts and beliefs are wrong 2) what’s regarded and reacted to as wrong is not simply about firm society wide consensus, but also about how certain social circles of people feel and what they do in specific situations and contexts 3) some disagreement prevails even about widely accepted norms, but far from denying the relevance of deviance, it affirms it since much of what deviance is about is the “struggle over whose rules will prevail” Deviance In Everyday Life • humans are evaluative creatures we continually make judgments about the behavior, beliefs or appearance of others, and each • one of us does exactly the same thing - evaluate others • societies everywhere have rules or norms governing what we should believe, and even how we should look and those norms are so detailed and complex and so dependent on the views of different evaluators, that what everyone does, believes and is, is looked on negatively by someone indeed in all likelihood by lots of other people there are four necessary ingredients for deviance to take place or exist: • 1) a rule or norm must exist 2) someone must violate that norm 3) an “audience” must be present, someone who judges the normative violation to be wrong 4) there must be a measurable likelihood of a negative reaction by that audience --criticism, condemnation, censure, stigma, disapproval, and so on Social Deviance - Chapter One Reading Notes - Week One • to qualify as deviance it isn’t even necessary to violate a norm thats serious like the Ten Commandments • “deviance” is a matter of degree, from trivial to extremely serious • deviance is not a simple quality resting with a given action, belief or trait inherent in, intrinsic to, or indwelling within them • what makes a given act deviant is the way it is seen, regarded, judged, evaluated, and the way that others--audiences--treat the person who engages in that act • deviance is that which is reacted to negatively in a socially rejecting fashion • acts, beliefs, and traits are deviant to certain persons or audiences or in certain social circles • what defines deviance are the actual or potential reactions that actions, beliefs and traits generate or are likely to generate in audiences • it is this negative reaction that defines or constitutes a given act, belief or trait as deviant we as humans create and enforce rules but we do violate some of society’s rules (ex. we park in • “no parking” zones) • no one abides by all rules all the times -- these rules contradict one another in some cases -- there is a variation in notions of right and wrong from one person to another • inevitably we deviate from someone’s rules simply by acting, believing, or being, since it is impossible to conform to all the rules that prevail So What Is Deviance ? • sociologically, deviance exists where we have the following ... 1) something - an act, belief, or a physical condition -- that violates a social norm or rule 2) a person or persons who engage in the act, express the belief, or possess the condition 3) an audience or a group of persons who judges and evaluates the normative violation • deviance exists when what one does is or believes is likely to generate in an audience a negative reaction -- ridicule, mockery, etc. • deviance is an analytic category: it applies in all spheres and areas of human life; it is a transhistorical, cross cultural concept the dynamics of deviance have taken place throughout recorded history and in every known • society • deviance is everywhere and anywhere people engage in behavior, hold and express beliefs, and possess traits that others regard as unacceptable • normative violations and reactions to normative violations, occur everywhere they exist and have existed in all societies everywhere and for all time, they are central to who • we are as human beings Societal and Situational Deviance • there are two sides to judgments of deviance ,one is its vertical or hierarchical side, the side that says that people with more power get to say what’s deviant • the other is horizontal or “grassroots” or mosaic side, the side that says deviance can be anything that any collectivity says it is, no matter how little power they have • Plummer - we must make a distinction between societal deviance and situational deviance • societal deviance is composed of those actions and conditions that are widely recognized, in advance and in general, to be deviant • there is a high degree of consensus on the identification of certain categories of deviance Social Deviance - Chapter One Reading Notes - Week One • rape, robbery, corporate theft, terrorism etc., are deviant because they are regarded as reprehensible to the majority of the members of this society • certain acts, beliefs, and traits are deviant society-wide because they are condemned, both in practice and in principle, by the majority, or by the most powerful members of the society -- this is the hierarchical side of deviance • situational deviance - does not exist as a general or society-wide quality, but in actual, concrete social gatherings, circles or settings • our distinction also recognizes the fact that certain acts, beliefs and conditions may be situationally but not societally deviant • the distinction between societal deviance (acts, beliefs, and traits that are considered bad or wrong in a society) and situational deviance (acts, beliefs, and traits that are considered bad or wrong specifically within a particular group, social circle, setting or context) frees us from having to make the silly, meaningless and indefensible statement that “everything is deviant” • looking at deviance from a vertical perspective raises the question of the dominance of one category or society over another -- that is, even though different groups, categories, social circles and societies hold different views of whats deviant, some of them are more powerful, influential and numerous than others • we also have to look at which categories or groups have the power to influence definitions of right and wrong in other categories or in general social scientists say that a dominant belief or institution is hegemonic: it holds sway over • beliefs held or institutions supported by less powerful social groupings in the society • the vertical conception of deviance is compatible with the societal definition of deviance; it defines the hegemonic view of what’s deviant as deviant, that is, what the majority or the most influential segments of the society regard as deviant • high consensus deviance: there is widespread agreement as to their deviant character • in contrast, the horizontal or “grassroots” property of deviance refers to the fact that a given act, belief, or trait can be a normative violation in one group, category or society but conformist in another - such a view does not examine the impact these settings, groups or societies on one another • the horizontal approach to deviance is c
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