SOC101 - Chapter 8.docx

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SOC 101
Christopher Mele

10/31/13 Chapter 8: Deviance and Social Control What is Deviance? • Ageneral definition: “deviance” refers to any violation of norms • According to Howard S. Becker, sociologists are concerned not with the act itself, but the reactions to the act – those reactions are what make something deviant. • Hence certain acts that are viewed as conformist by those committing them, may be interpreted as deviant by those who witness them • Example: Carol Stack’s study of matriarchal families in the South in All our Kin • Deviance is relative; “what is deviant” varies from society to society and group to group. • Aspecific form of deviance, crime (the violation of rules that have been written into law), is also relative. • Although deviance is typically associated with behaviors, it can also include violations of ability (such as blindness) and appearance (such as obesity). • Sociologist Erving Goffman used the term “stigma” to refer to “blemishes” that discredit a person’s claim to a “normal” identity. What is the purpose of social control? • By making behavior predictable, norms make social life possible. Consequently, all human groups develop a system of social control with formal and informal means of enforcing norms. • One important means of social control are negative sanctions, which can range from frowns to capital punishment. • In general, the more seriously the group view a norm, the harsher the penalty for violating it. • An especially effective negative sanction within primary groups and small communities is shaming, which typically involves subjecting a “rule breaker” to public ridicule, humiliation, and/or condemnation. • Sociologist Harold Garfinkel used the term “degradation ceremony” to refer to formal attempts to brand someone as an outsider. This may involve bringing an “offending” individual up before a group, forcing that individual to account for his or her actions, and then taking steps to strip that individual of his or her identity as a group member. • Shaving the heads of French women accused as Nazi collaborators. • Court TV programs who denounce offenders or lenient judges. • Web sites that list identities and information regarding sex offenders Symbolic interactionists, functionalists, and conflict theorists each have their own sets of theories for understanding and analyzing deviance and social control: I. The Symbolic Interacionist Perspective on Deviance and Social Control • For the symbolic interactionist approach on deviance, the focus is on memberships in groups and how groups affect behaviors. o A. DifferentialAssociation Theory  Claims that people learn to either deviate from or conform to society’s norms through the different groups with whom they associate  What we learn influences us toward or away from deviance  Hence, deviance is learned  Families, friends, neighborhoods, and subcultures with which people associate teach us attitudes that, in turn, translate into conforming or deviating behaviors  Research indicates that delinquents are more likely to come from families who get into trouble with the law  According to one study of 25,000 delinquents locked up in high- security state institutions, 25% had a father who had been in prison, 25% a brother or sister, 9% had a mother, and 13% percent had some other relative.  Research demonstrates that delinquency tends to be clustered in certain neighborhoods with children from these neighborhoods more likely to become delinquent than children from other neighborhoods  Although groups influence behavior, symbolic interactionists also stress that they do not determine behavior. People are not destined to think and act as their groups dictate. o B. Control Theory  According to control theory, people generally avoid deviance because of an effective system of inner and outer controls.  Two control systems work against people’s inclinations to deviate.  People’s inner controls include their internalized morality—their conscience, religious principles, ideas of right and wrong, fears of punishment, feeling of integrity, and desires to be a good person.  People’s outer controls consist of other significant people in their lives, such as their family, friends, and police, who influence them not to deviate.  The stronger an individual’s bonds are with social structures, such as the family or school, the more effective their inner controls are.  These bonds are based on attachments (feeling affection and respect for people who conform to the dominant norms of society), commitments (having a stake in society that you don’t want to risk, such as family, employment, and reputation) involvements (investing time and energy into legitimate activities), and beliefs (believing deviant behaviors are morally wrong).  These components summarize one’s level of self-control with deviant behavior reflecting a lack of self-control. o C. Labeling Theory  People are assigned labels (names and reputations) that become part of their self-concept, which, in turn, channels them toward conforming or deviant behaviors  More people resist the negative labels other people try to pin on them.  Labels can be powerful…  Label can become a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, working to open doors of opportunity for individuals who are assigned positive labels and, conversely, closing doors of opportunity for individuals who are assigned negative labels  In a study of delinquent boys, Sykes and Matza were able to identify five “techniques of neutralization” that people use to resist negative labels and rationalize their deviant behavior.  Denial of responsibility (“I’m not responsible because..”)  Denial of injury (“Nobody really got hurt.”)  Denial of victim (“The person deserved what he or she got.”)  Condemnation of the condemners (“Who are these people to judge?”)  Appeal to higher loyalty (“I had to stick up for my family,” or “I had to help out my friends.”)  Although most people resist being labeled deviant, some group members revel in it.  Youth cultures and rebelliousness through music, clothes, and/or hairstyles.  Example from text: outlaw bikers, such bikers, who see the world as “hostile, weak and effeminate,” and pride themselves on looki
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