SOCA02H3 Study Guide - Victimless Crime, Benefit Corporation, Social Constructionism
ProfessorMalcolm Mac Kinnon
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Chapter 7 Text Book Notes
-For last 3 decades Canadian constantly place crime among the top 3 of the social issues that concern
- Crime in general & violent crime in particular is on the rise.
- Majority of Canadian adults feel the courts are too lenient with offenders (young offenders
-Crime simply indicates a technical violation of criminal law.
-Sociologists consider how Social Definitions, Social Relationships & Social Conditions lead to crime
events & labeling by law.
A)TYPES OF C&D (CRIME & DEVIANCE)
-Deviance – Breaking a norm (not breaking social average but a socially accepted norm/rule of
Deviant acts are punished formally & informally.
Informal Punishment – Mild – eyebrow raise, gossip, shaming or stigmatization (negatively
evaluated because of a marker of difference, distinguishing them from others EX: hair, looks,
Formal Punishment – results from breaking law(norms enforced by govt bodies EX: prisontime,
community service hours)
Types of deviant crimes classified in 3 dimensions (John Hagan)
1)Severity of social response – murder will result in severe social response such as life
imprisonment or even capital punishment, whereas wearing a nose ring brings mild social reaction
(disapproval of slight deviation from norms).
2)Perceived harmfulness – “PERCEIVED” not actual. Sexual assaults-seen as very harmful &
tattoos are regarded as harmless. EX: COCACOLA contained cocaine, now cocaine is illegal a
change in people’s perception of harmfulness.
3)Degree of public disagreement – disagreement between people. People argue about whether
marijuana should be illegal considering the fact that it also aids cancer patients with their pain &
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nausea. EX: definition of murder varies across cultures & societies (killing newborns in Inuit
communities-not a crime – helps save scarce resources. A workers death at work due to safety reasons,
highly debatable, “Accidental” should the company be held responsible?)
Four types of C&Ds – (John Hagan)
1)Social Diversions – minor acts of deviancy EX: Fads & Fashions (blue hair, piercings) evoke
most mild social reactions such as amusement or disdain. Usually harmless
2)Social Deviations – more serious acts, subjected to institutional sanctions (more people agree
these are deviant acts & somewhat harmful) EX: Japanese school banning long hair that was punished
by a humiliating public haircut.
3)Conflict Crimes – deviant crimes defined as illegal by state, but in a wider society the issue is
controversial EX: tax on beard in Russia under Tsar Peter – since it symbolized russia’s past instead of
future.(classified as a crime only in Russia; harmed Russia because it represented Russia’s past)
4)Consensus Crimes – “bad” crimes, very little controversy or debate about them. Great majority
of people support punishment for these crimes. EX: a peasant sporting the haircut of a warrior (brings
social order of Japan in question, breaking the caste system rules)
THEY ALL SHOW THAT PEOPLE’S CONCEPTION OF C&D VARIES OVER TIME &
BETWEEN SOCIETIES (EX: HAIR STYLE CAN BE A MATTER OF LIFE & DEATH.)
B) POWER & SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF C&D
Social Constructionism – school of sociological thought that emphasizes various social problems
including crime as not inherent in certain actions themselves, instead some people are in a position to
create norms/laws that stigmatize other people.
Power – (a position in a social relationship to carry out one’s own will despite resistance). Is a crucial
element in the social construction of C&D & so powerful groups are able to create norms & laws to
best suit their interests, & the powerless social groups are unable to do so. & so the powerless struggle
against stigmatization & if their power increases they may succeed.
Importance of power in social construction of C&D (C&D) by considering :
1)Crimes against women – women are generally less powerful than men & the law has been biased
against them. For the longest time crimes against women have been ignored, in Canada & most
other parts of the world; true even in case of rape, which is NOW considered sexual assault. Rape
involving strangers were sometimes punished, but date rapes or rapes by friends or acquaintances
were rarely prosecuted. Now the system has changed, they have more rights, and so the social
definition of crimes against women has changed with a shift in distribution of power (giving
women more power than they had and equal power in some circumstances.
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