Theory-Theory and practice are intertwined. A theory is an explanation of a phenomenon.
-In sociology there can be multiple existing theories that explain one phenomenon.
Positivist Theories-Interested in why people act in certain ways. Seek cause and effect
relationships, interested in planning a better society and seeking better social control.
Functionalist theories-Idea that society is comprised of structures that all have a function within
society and if something no longer serves its function it is eliminated by society.
-Maintenance of the social order is consensual in that the rules exist because we believe
they should exist.
Manifest function-Intended and recognized such as training for young adults for employment is a
manifest function of university.
Latent Function-Unintentional and unrecognized such as social networking in university.
Teleological-The reason something exists within society is based on the function it serves. We
thus cannot know if something in society exists without a function because it is not tested
because something only exists because we know what its function is.
Tautological-The whole is described in terms of its parts e.g. families socialize children so the
socialization of children is a main function of the family.
Androcentric Bias-Barely recognizes the roles of women in society and sociology and if it does it
focuses on traditional roles.
Durkheim-Founder of sociology and believed that a degree of deviance was functional within
Society, however, it may become pathological and create anomie (normlessness).
-Deviance increases social solidarity because we see deviance, realize the important of
the rules and band together. Also, we determine what societys moral boundaries are by
experiencing deviance and understanding what is right and wrong.
-Certain norms may be dysfunctional for society and thus will be eliminated or changed.
-At a certain point deviance no longer enhances the social order but interferes with it.
Mechanical Solidarity-Before industrialization society was bonded together by likeness and a
collective commitment to conformity.
-Often a kin-based society, know everyone in the community and have minimal
specialization in the division of labour.
Organic Solidarity-Society is bonded through interdependence in a highly specialized division of
Anomie-When change happens too quickly and individualism gets out of control social bonds of
society get weaker. The well-being of society becomes weak and a state of anomie
(normlessness) occurs. This may create more deviance.
Mertons Strain Theory-There is an excess of institutionalized goals (wealth, status and power)
that make up success that are shown through our media. Lack of legitimate means of
attaining these goals such as education, jobs etc. The lack of means combined with the
goals leads to anomie and strain. Leads to 5 possible outcomes.
Conformity-Pursues societys goals through legitimate means.
Innovation-Accepts the institutionalized goals but rejects the legitimate means and finds
alternative ways of meeting the goals. Often is deviant e.g. selling stolen goods.
Ritualism-Given up or reduced the goals but continues going through the motions of legitimate
means and working hard.
Retreatism-People who reject the means and goals of society and often become isolated. Drugs
or alcohol may be a factor.
Rebellion-Like retreatism rejects both goals and means but substitutes new goals and means in its place.
Cloward and Ohlin: Differential Opportunity Theory-Agrees with Mertons idea of
differential access to legitimate means but also argues that there is differential access to
illegitimate means too. Thus people are more likely to join certain deviant subcultures.
Criminal Gangs-Lower class neighbourhoods join and the gangs are similar to small businesses.
Retreatist Gangs-Mostly groups of people characterized by drug or alcohol abuse.
Conflict Gangs-Fight for status and power in the neighbourhood by using violence against a
Agnew: General Strain Theory-Strain may occur in multiple situations through lack of
legitimate means, when valued stimuli is removed and when negative stimuli is
presented. Strain is not enough to cause deviance it must be accompanied by negative
Cohen: Theory of status frustration-The idea that the social inequalities and structures of
society are reproduced in the classroom.
Middle class measuring rod-Schools emphasis on delayed gratification, politeness and the value
of hard work. Lower class boys are unable to measure up to this standard because they do
not see the value in these qualities which creates status frustration.
Mutual Conversion-Low class boys and together and develop a set of oppositional standard that
enable them to succeed (reaction formation).
Learning Theories-Explain deviant behaviour by the learning process. Someone teaches
deviants to be deviant.
Sutherlands Differential Association Theory-Deviant behaviour is learned in the same way as
conforming behaviour is, in small intimate groups. If people are exposed to more deviant
than conforming definitions they are likely to become deviants as the groups teach them
techniques (skills) and motives (justifications/reasons).
Frequency-The groups we interact with more have more of an influence on us.
Duration-Those interactions that are longer have more of an influence on us than shorter ones.
Priority-The groups that are more intimate and that we have belonged to for longer have more of
an influence on us.
Intensity-The more important a group is to us the more influence they have,
Sykes and Matza: Neutralization Theory-People learn motives (techniques of neutralization)
that convince them what they do isnt really wrong.
Denial of responsibility-Shifts the blame of the crime off of themselves onto someone else, the
situation or environment.
Denial of Injury-People believe what they have done does not hurt anyone such as prostitution or
Denial of victim-Perception is that the victim deserved theory fate.
Condemnation of condemners-Shifts the focus from their deviant behaviour to the deviant
behaviour of others especially those calling them deviant. Says they are hypocrites.
Appeal to higher loyalties-Their behaviour is justified as serving a higher purpose such as
protecting a friend or family.
Social Learning Theory-We are more likely to engage in behaviours that have been rewarded in
the past and less likely for those that have been punished. We also watch our peers and are more
likely to imitate behaviour that is rewarded and avoid behaviour that is punished. Social Control Theories-Focus on why everyone is not deviant because they suggest deviant
behaviour is naturally attractive, exciting and appealing. However, parts of the theory are
considered to be tautological and self-control is more of a personality trait.
Hirschis Social Bonds Theory-4 types of bonds restrain us from being deviant.
Attachment-A greater level of emotional attachment to anybody makes us more likely to
conform and not be deviant.
Commitment-Commitment to conventional activities such as school, work, sports and is a
commitment to conformity. Being deviant threatens our investments.
Involvement-Highly involved people are too busy for deviance
Belief-Belief in norms, values, and assumptions about the conventional world bonds people to
the conventional world and reduces deviance.
Gottfredson and Hirschi General Theory of Crime-Self-control is why certain people are
predisposed to deviant acts.
-Low self-control is characterized by impulsivity, preferences for simple taks, risk
seeking, very physical, self-centerdness and high temper. It is a result of ineffective
parenting but may be buffered by other influences. Theya re more likely to engage in
deviant behaviour when the opportunity presents itself.
-Low self-control can explain white collar crime, street crime, cheating on exams and
risky sexual behaviour.
Subjective Side-We do not know deviance when we see it but must be told that a certain act or
thought is deviant. Looks at the nature of social expectations. People are labelled, judged
by those labels and then treated a certain way because of the label.
Interpretive Theories-Tries to explain events that are unique and unrepeatable.
-Reality emerges through reciprocal, inter-subjective understanding between people and
thus focus on the symbols and meaning in the interactions.
-Focus on the construction of meaning and understanding in interactions.
-Shows the deviance dance as people interpret and react to actions differently.
Symbolic Interactionism-Society is created through social interaction and people communicate
based on symbols and a common understanding of these symbols (symbols can be words,
clothing and gestures etc). Sometimes the same symbol has different meaning in different
contexts (e.g. CAT as an animal, scan or construction equipment).
Role Taking-Placing ourselves in other peoples shoes to understand the world from their point
Looking glass self-When thinking about ourselves we imagine how others think of us and that in
turn influences how we think and feel about ourselves.
Significant others-Those people important to us and whose perceptions and reactions matter the
most to us.
Generalized other-refers to other people more generally.
Labelling Theory-Deviance is a label attached to people which then re