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Chapter 1

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SOC 2070
Norman Dubeski

Chapter 1: Introduction Introduction  Deviance is behaviour, beliefs, or characteristics that many people in society find or would find offensive and which excite, upon discovery, disapproval, punishment, condemnation or hostility  Deviance is behaviour, beliefs, or characteristics that are likely to generate a negative reaction in others  Deviance refers to the process by which the actor’s, the believers, and the possessor’s character is tainted, stigmatized, and inferiorized  The sociology of deviance looks at informal and interpersonal reactions to behaviour, beliefs, and traits  The study of deviance is about making rules, breaking rules and reactions to breaking rules  Deviance is a process  Deviance describes what is likely to happen when people break rules that are held in a society  Most of us find it difficult to locate the general property or characteristic that defines an act, a belief or a condition as deviance  Sumner 1994 defined deviance as the departure from a clearly defined standard  Some people think that in today’s world, agreement on what’s right and wrong has vaporized since “anything goes” deviance no longer exists  Denying the reality of deviance is entirely mistaken for three reasons 1. We can find widespread agreement that certain acts and beliefs are wrong 2. What’s regarded and reacted to as wrong is not simply about firm society wife consensus, but also about how certain social circles of people feel and what they do in specific situations and contexts 3. Some disagreement prevails even about widely accepted norms, but far from denying the relevance of deviance, it affirms it, since much of hat deviance is about is the “struggle over whose rules will prevail” Deviance in Everyday Life  Humans are evaluate creatures, societies every where have rules or norms governing what we may and may not do, how we should think, what we should believe, and even how we should look, and those norms are so detailed and complex, and so dependent on the views of different evaluators, that what everyone does, is looked on negatively by someone  The number of ways that we believe, or do, or could be judged negatively be others is almost infinite  There are 4 necessary ingredients for deviance to take place or exist: 1. A rule or norm must exist 2. Someone must violate that norm 3. An audience must be present, someone who judges the normative violation to be wrong 4. There must be measureable likelihood of a negative reaction by that audience – criticism, condemnation, censure, stigma, disapproval and so on  “Deviance” is a matter of degree  norms are everywhere and vary in seriousness, and different people have different norms  An act for example is not regarded as deviant everywhere and at all times  What defines deviance are the actual or potential reactions that actions, beliefs, and traits generate or are likely to generate in audiences o It is this negative reaction that defines or constitutes a given act, being, or trait as deviant o Without that reaction, actual or potential, we do not have a case of deviance on our hands  Human are evaluate creates: we create and enforce rules  in fact, the more numerous and detailed the rules, the more opportunities there are for normative violations  Hardly anyone abides by all rules, all the time  impossible because some of the rules contradict one another  Almost inevitably we deviate from someone’s rules simply by acting, believing, or being, since it is impossible to conform to all the rules that prevail So, What is Deviance?  Deviance exists when what one does is, or believes, is likely to generate in an audience a negative reaction  Deviance occurs on every society on earth  Although what is considered as deviance varies considerably – but not randomly – from society to society and from one social category to another, the condemnation and punishment of enactors, holders, and possessors of unacceptable behaviour, beliefs, and traits are universal, a panhuman phenomenon  Everyone one of us has his or her own views, and those views may agree or disagree with the audiences who reactions we are looking at  Deviance and deviant are absolutely nonpejorative meaning that thy are descriptive terms that apply to what others think and how they are likely to react, as sociology we must acknowledge the existence of those consequences  Deviance is an analytic category: it applies to all spheres and areas of human life; it is a transhistorical, cross-cultural concept Societal and Situational Deviance  There are two sides to judgments of deviance: 1. Vertical or hierarchical side  the side that says people with more power get to say what is deviant 2. Horizontal or “grassroots” or mosaic side  the side that collectively say it is, no matter how little power they have o In other words we must make a distinction between societal deviance (acts, beliefs, and traits that are considered bad or wrong in a society in generally) and situational deviance (acts, beliefs, and traits that are considered bad or wrong specifically within a particular group, social circle, setting or context)  Societal deviance: is composed of those actions conditions that are widely recognized, in advance and in general to be deviant. There is a high degree of consensus on the identification of certain categories of deviance (rape, robbery etc. are considered deviant because they are regarded as reprehensible to the majority of members of this society) o Hierarchical side of deviance certain acts, beliefs and traits are deviant society wide because they are condemned, both in practice and in principle, by the majority, or by the most powerful members of the society  Situational deviance: does not exist as a general or society wide quality, but in actual, concrete social gatherings, circles, or settings. A given individual may not have been regarded as a deviant situtationally – for his or her specific community – but may enact a category of behaviour or possess a condition that is so widely condemned that it is societally deviant. Our distinction also recognizes that certain acts, beliefs, and conditions may be situtationally but not societally deviant  Looking at deviance from a vertical perspective: o Even though different groups and societies hold different views of what is deviant, some of them are more powerful, influential and numerous than others o In addition we have to look at which categories or groups have the power to influence definitions of right and wrong this is called a dominant belief or institution and is known as hegemonic  it holds sway over beliefs held or institutions supported by less powerful social groupings in the society o The vertical conception of deviance is compatible with societal definition of deviance that is it defines the hegemonic view of what’s deviant as deviant o Acts, beliefs, and conditions that are socially deviant are those that are regarded as wrong nearly everywhere in society o Regarded as high consensus deviance: there is widespread agreement as to their deviant behaviour  Looking at deviance from the horizontal perspective: o Refers to the fact that a given, act, belief or trait can be a normative violation in one group, category, or society, but conformist in another o Is sees societies as a kind of mosaic or loose assemblage of separate and independent collectiveness of people who do not influence one another o Here audiences evaluate behaviour, beliefs, and traits only within their own category, independent of what’s going on in other categories o Horizontal approach is compatible with the situational definition of deviance  acts, beliefs, and conditions that are situtationally, not societally deviant may be regarded as low consensus deviance in that public opinion is divided about their deviant status The ABCs of Deviance  Deviant behaviour is about deviant attitudes or beliefs, and about deviant traits or characteristics – in short anything and everything that results in interpersonal or institutional rejection or punishment  Adler and Adler use the term the ABCs of deviance – Attitudes, behaviours and conditions o Attitude refers to unpopular, unconventional beliefs that may or may not manifest themselves in over
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