SOC 223 Mid-term Review
What is Deviance?Anegative quality attributed to some activity or actors by an
audience. It is any activity, actor, idea, or humanly produces situation that an audience
defines as negative (threatening, evil, immoral, offensive) in some way. It is an
inevitable component of community life. Deviance is social in its definition –
deviance is brought into existence only when something is so defined by an audience.
The deviant mystique is auras, fascinations, interests, curiosities, and related images
that people develop with respect to deviance.
One person may see something as bad or forbidden while another sees it as good,
interesting or fun. Certain situations may appear even more alluring to some people
because they are forbidden by others in the public.
Chapter 1 of DM – Encountering the Deviant Mystique
1. What is the Deviant Mystique? Explain this from an interactionist viewpoint. The
deviant mystique refers to the allures and fascinations, the anxieties and fears, and the
repulsions that people associate with wrongdoing and morality. It is interactionist in
that it concentrates on humanly known and enacted realities.
2. Tell how interactionist’s approach the study of deviance? Interactionists approach
the study of deviance as a study of community life in the making. It study’s the
community life that encompasses people’s participation in all areas where deviance
and morality are viewed as problematic.
3. How does this differ from structuralism and moralist/activist approaches?
Interactionist Structuralist Moralist/activist Idealist
Envisions deviance as a Explain deviance bFyocus on the matters oDf eny the authenticity of
social essence that is virtue of an interpljydging, directing, human knowing and
produced by minded, of factors through tc oontrolling people’s acting. They attempt to
acting, and interacting cause people to actsituations, behaviours,talk deviance out of
people who engage onecertain manners. and experiences. existence by reducing
another in the full range everything to the realm of
of community contexts. words, concepts, or ideas
– anything can be
Interactionists vs Interactionist vs idealist Interactionist vs structuralist
Moralists promote I’s differ from idealists in: 1) S’s ask “why” or “what makes”
standpoints by which recognizing the authenticity of people do things. I’s ask “how”
deviance can be definep deople’s knowledge, moralities, andpeople make sense of the
and deviants can be judgments as meaningful of study 2s )ituations that they find
identified while emphasizing the centrality of activitthemselves in and how they act
interactionists study tfor comprehending the human towards things they are aware
process by which huma cnondition. Idealists content that thof. I’s put emphasis on the
group life takes place. can redefine deviance out of things that people consider existence, I’s see the engaged naturemeaningful in symbolic or
of community life. The human worlld inguistic terms.
is a world of activity.
Symbolic Interactionism - Chapter 2 of DM – IntersubjectiveAccomplishment
1. What are the 7 basic premises (assumptions) of symbolic interactionism (Mead,
Blumer). Human Group life is:
1 – Intersubjective: the human world is symbolically/linguistically understood,
constructed, and experienced.
2 – Multi-perspectival: the world can have multiple meanings to people. People
develop meanings as their interact with one another and develop styles of relating
3 – Reflective: people develop capacities to become object of their own
awareness. They attribute meaning to themselves & develop lines of action that
take themselves into account.
4 – Activity Based: human group life is organized around the doing or
accomplishing of activity and behaviour.
5 – Negotiable: people are able to influence and resist others
6 – Relational: people associate selectively. They develop particular bonds and
attend to associations with others in the communities they find themselves in.
7 – Processual: group life has an emergent quality or ongoing social construction;
it’s an ongoing process.
Human group life is viewed as intersubjective, multiperspectival, reflective, action-
based, negotiable, relational, and processual.
2. How is deviance defined from an interactionist viewpoint? Symbolic interactionism
focuses on the nature of human knowing and acting as this takes place within the
community context. From an interactionists’s viewpoint, deviance is a social process.
Interactionists emphasize that the study of human behaviour is the study of human
lived experience and that human experience is rooted in the meanings, interpretations,
activities and of ongoing group life.
Deviance is a matter of human enterprise.
3. What sorts of questions do interactionists ask in their attempts to explain deviance?
The what and how of the life-world of the other.
4. What are the central features of symbolic interactionist? Explain these. SI is the
study of the wa in which people make sense of their life-situations and accomplish
their activities, in conjunction with others, on a day-to-day basis – it studies the way
in which people do things within the context of community life. Central features:
- the notion that human life is group life – human life is intersubjective in its essence
(intersubjective – sharedness of meanings). Humans cannot be understood apart from
the community context that they live in – people derive their essence from their
communities. There can be no self without the other.
- It is the attainment of language that makes the possession of a “self” possible (Mead). Language provides a basis for which people establish common
understandings and it is through ongoing (symbolic) interaction with others that
people learn about other and gets a better sense of their self.
5. How do symbolic interactionists study deviance? Tell what these involve. They
approach the study of deviance as one of many manifestations of the human condition
that people may develop in dealing with one another in the course of community life.
They take a distinctive, comparatively recent approach to deviance. Focus on
sociological approaches. Mindful of the emergent nature of human lived experience.
Open to the participants viewpoints and doesn’t impose their own concept on the
Ethnographers rely primarily on three sources Observation (encompasses visual and
audio senses, documents, diaries, records, maps, etc.), Participant-observation (allows
the researcher to get much closer to the lived experiences of the participants – more
active roles as the research tries to fit into the dynamic settings at hand), and
interviews (open-ended inquiries into the experience of others) in order to achieve
intimate familiarity with the life worlds of those they study through.
People studying people should attend to the 7 premises of symbolic interactionism: to
the intersubjective nature of human behaviour, the viewpoints of those they are
studying, the interpretations or meanings people attach to themselves and others,
people’s attempts to influence others, the bonds people develop over time, and the
processes people experience over time.
To study deviance, one must overcome or permeate the deviant mystique – they must
look past or through the repulsions, auras, fascinations that surround deviance and to
concentrate on the ways in which the people involved in all aspects of the deviance
process work out their activities with other in the community.
Theatres of Operations (Chapter 3 in DM)
1. Is deviance synonymous with difference?
2. To what does the "deviant mystique" refer?
3. Why is it important that students of deviance be attentive to the deviant mystique?
4. Who are the people who contribute to the deviant mystique? In what ways do they
do this? Elaborate as much as you can (chpts 1-3). See below.
Tell what the Deviant Mystique is all about.
The Deviant Mystique considers the great many people who may become involved in
the production of deviance in community life and the various roles that these people
play in the process.
1. In what ways do people participate in deviance? What roles do they assume in
the deviance-making process?
Five forms of participation: a. Practitioners – those who participate more actively in particular forms of deviant
activity – they experience a fuller sense of what deviance involves and move beyond
notions of the deviant mystique.
b. Supporting casts – those who make contact with particular deviants for
their own personal or economic advantages. They play integral roles in
facilitating and accommodating deviance. They may not be interested
in becoming practitioners themselves but they provide goods and
services or places for practitioners to use/meet at (for example a bar,
restaurant, or hotel and drugs or gambling).
c. Implied parties – people who live with or have close relations with
those they know to be deviants (ex: family, friends, and neighbours).
d. Vicarious Participants – experiencing aspects of the situation of
someone in one’s mind. “Mindedness” allows one to play deviance
without totally embracing the notions in practice. They can do so in
idealized settings and can experience deviance from a distance. Some
of these participants may become an actual participant in deviance but
most are highly receptive to the mindedness they do.
e. Targets – those who identify themselves as recipients of unwanted
features of the behaviours of others. Victims and villains. Rather than
deny a target role one must be attentive to the viewpoints of all parties
involved and of the interchangeable positions as targets and tacticians.
Five roles that people involved in the control of deviance may engage:
a. Spotting trouble – Someone defines something as troublesome, threatening,
b. Raising consciousness – Someone promoting particular moral codes in
a community, alerting others of a problem at hand and seeking
solutions to that problem. They often have supporters in the
community and are given authority for dealing with problems.
c. Identifying deviants – labeling people as deviant
d. Regulating deviance – people try to deal with troublesome cases by
either doing nothing, trying to change the perpetrators, alter their own
behaviours, or refer troublesome cases to third parties.
e. Providing secondary aid – Lawyers, counselors, therapists, social
workers – those who work with people participating in deviance.
f. Those who talk about deviance in some capacity also participate in
deviance because what they say generates images and understandings
of deviance, whether what they say is true or not.
Five important sources of talk about deviance: a. Interpersonal Exchange – interpersonal networks and causal talk about others is a
central means of conveying information about specific people within communities.
Can be in the form of rumors and secrets.
b. Educators and scientists – Provide careful, reliable and thorough
information about deviance; they are viewed as experts. Some of them
may contribute to the deviant mystique.
c. Politicians and political advocacy – political activities can be highly
instrumental in drawing attention to troublesome behaviours.
d. Religious and ethical moralists – religious voices may contribute to the
mystique by putting some acts or actors within the context of the
struggle over good and evil or the sacred and profane.
e. Mass media – Source of confusion – rumor mills. Report matters
pertaining to deviance. People maintain many images of deviance from
the media. There is also an interactive aspect of media exposure
because people discuss media messages with others.
Defining Things as Deviance - Chapter 4
1. Hebert Blumer (Social Problems as Collective Behaviour) outlines 5 basic steps in
the "natural history" of social problems. How does Blumer define social problems?
Blumer Defines social problems as “matters of community definition”. Blumer
identifies five processes as central to the matter of publicly defining situations or
practices as “social problems”. These include emergence (initial awareness and
publicity); legitimation (public and official acknowledgement); mobilization for
action (assess information, suggestions and probabilities); formation of an official
plan and implementation of the official plan (and the problematics of successfully
doing so). At each point Blumer says the process is problematic and adjustive and
negotiable. Social problems represent sites of collective enterprise and generally
involve multiple viewpoints and contested bodies of knowledge and beliefs.
Emergence (creating awareness). Blumer says it’s a problematic situation:A)defining
situation as more troublesome, threatening and enduring. B) dramatizing conditions
C) spreading information within the community D) striving for audience attention
amidst other concerns (distractions) E) using (and enlisting) the media.
Legitimating Definitions of the the situation involves A) justifying the positions taken
B) pursueing endorsements and support of influential community members; C)
providing evidence; D) referencing experts; and E) credentialing people who speak on
behalf of the cause
Mobilizing for action includes subprocesses such asA) emphasizing the necessity of
immediate, effective action; B) coordinating activities with supportive others; c)
neutralizing controversy and alternative viewpoints D) developing alliances; and E)
Formulating an Official plan - If peoples interested are sustained they may become
involved in formulat