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Sociology 2259 Midterm: Midterm Review

Course Code
SOC 2259
Lauren Barr
Study Guide

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Sociology of Deviance Midterm Review
Intro to Deviance
deviance is a continuum with deviant criminals on one end of the spectrum and ideals (far
beyond what anybody can reach) on the other end
deviance and crime are not synonymous
there are some crimes that are not considered deviant and a lot of deviance that is not
social justice focuses on equity which involves:
access (participatory democracy) - open and available to all —> agency (transformative
practice) - intention to effect change —> advocacy (systemic change) - skills to
effect change —> solidarity action (civil society) - collectively working for change
empathy is key to studying deviance
Reflective Journal for Major Assignment Ideas:
How society constructs criminals out of citizens with naturally deviant personalities
How going to jail perpetuates criminal activity outside of jail
Conformity and Decent
public shaming worked by publicizing the behaviours or characteristics that won’t be tolerated
in a given society and insults work the same way in the modern day
we “label” what is different as deviant
sexuality, gender, religion, intelligence, class, work ethic, ability, and family are things that
North American society values and in turn creates labels around
studying a group’s sanctions tells you a lot about their value system
human beings create culture and this ability makes us unique foremother animals
we learn culture through “symbols”
what is deviant varies from one individual, society, culture, social context, and historical period
to another
we label things as deviant to deter harmful actions, keep people in line, and so people know
what is okay and what isn’t (for the smooth running of society)
contractarianism follows the social contract is an unspoken agreement that keeps order
within the community, by abiding by the contract we get reciprocation, acceptance, access to
resources, and security, but we give up the freedom to do and think whatever we want
complex society structure = complex social control
in a social contract people give up sovereignty to a government/authority in order to receive or
maintain social order
it begins with examining human condition absent from structured order (the state of nature)
individual action is motivated by person choice and conscience
Hobbes believed that if humans didn’t have something controlling their nature then they would
do whatever they wanted (good or bad), human’s state of nature believes each person has a
right to everything in the world so there would be anarchy where life is solitary, poor, nasty,
brutish, and short without a controlling body, so we succumb to the social contract for a civil
John Locke thought the self is created through an ongoing “consciousness” or experience,
when we’re born our mind is a blank slate and we learn behaviour, knowledge is determined
only by experience derived from sense perception

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Rousseau believed morality isn’t a societal construct but rather innate (for example we
naturally avoid suffering or witness people suffering so we use companion and empathy), we
are connected and thereby responsible for one another
whatever our dominant belief system, the labels and sanctions (controls) will correspond
the more something violates our belief system the stronger the sanction will be
the label may change and the sanction may change but the actual deviant behaviour stays the
we need people to conform to the social contract but we need deviants for anything to change
those with more objective interests study the deviant act, person, or trait, follows positive
theorists and is defined by harm, statistical rarity, negative societal reaction, and normative
objective view believes that’s something innate int the deviant characteristics
those with more subjective interests study social construction and social typing and look at
interpretive and critical theories
Determining Deviance
dictionary states that anyone who violates accepted norms is deviant (opposite to “normal”
and “conformity”)
objective view
a specific characteristic that defines deviance
a common trait among all identified forms of deviance
prediction and prevention
subjective view
no common characteristic
what id deviant is taught to us
something is not deviant until is goes through the social typing process (label, reaction,
used to be the objective view that was the focus but has now shifted to subjective view
those with more objective interests study the deviant act, person, or trait, use positivist
theories, and look at harm, statistical rarity, negative societal reaction, and normative violation
those with more subjective interests study social construction and social typing and use
interpretive and critical theories
a theory is practical when it explains the worlds to us, explains the “how’s” and “why’s”
surrounding deviance, allows us to think through our observations, gives us dialogue
the type of information you’re trying to find will influence which method you use
the theory used should enhance or compliment your thesis
every academic person should have a basic understanding of both qualitative and qualitative
the sociology of deviance utilizes general sociological theories, specifically criminological
theories, and interdisciplinary theories
Deviance Specialists — study deviance (criminal and noncriminal)
Criminologists — focus exclusively on criminal forms of deviance
Consensus View — laws arise out of social consensus and equally applied to all

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Conflict View (Power Perspective) — law is a tool used by the ruling class to serve its’ own
interests, therefore applied more to members of the powerless classes
Interactionist View — society’s powerful define laws at the order of interest groups, who
appeal to those in power to rectify a perceived social ill
Objective vs. Subjective Dichotomy
older definitions of deviance suggested objective ways of defining it where as newer
definitions have shifted to looking at deviance as subjective
objective views claim that the presence of certain characteristics define deviance, people with
those characteristics are deviants, and people without them are normal
all “deviants” have something in common that allows us to recognize them
defining feature that is most often identified is the violation of norms
subjective views of deviance claim that there is no shared, observable characteristic that
clearly tells us who or what is deviant and who or what is normal, instead someone must tell
us who is deviant in Canadian society
we have to be taught through socialization how to identify a deviant person or behaviour
deviance lies in people’s perception of the behaviour rather than the behaviour itself
contemporary subjectivism focuses on the processes by which particular people, behaviours,
or characteristics are perceived in certain ways
HOWEVER the complexities of the work done on studying deviance shows that it transcends
objective vs. subjective and actually integrates both definitions when trying to define or
understand deviance
Objective Definitions of Deviance and Their Limitations
statistical rarity: if a behaviour or characteristic is not typical then it is deviant, however,
limitations include how we define “rare” (i.e. does it occur in less than 50% or 30% of
population), some behaviours aren’t statistically rare but are still thought of as unacceptable in
society and are subjected to control efforts (e.g. underaged drinking), and some statistically
rare behaviours are widely accepted in society (e.g. sport prodigies)
harmfulness: if an action causes harm (physical, emotional, social [i.e. interfering with the
smooth running of society], or threat to the way we understand the world [e.g. religious
beliefs]) then it’s deviant, however, limitations include the unclear and changing definition of
physical hard (e.g. that caused by marijuana use), whether are not society or a belief system
is being harmed is subjective
societal reaction: when society’s “masses” react in a negative rather than positive way then
the person or behaviour is considered deviant, however, limitations include the unclear criteria
for a mass negative reaction from society, that not all laws reflect public opinion/reaction, and
societal reaction aren’t uniform
normative violation: actions that go against the norms of the society you live in are
considered deviant, norms being standards or expectations of behaviour, folkways are more
informal norms, and mores are standards that are seen as the foundation of morality in a
culture, however, limitations include consensus around norms within a given society, that
lawmaking is a political activity so the norms embodied by laws may not reflect the majority’s
opinions, and the situational applicability of broad social norms (e.g. taking a human life from
murder vs. self defence)
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