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Chapter 3

Chapter 3 Textbook Notes.docx

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Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC 2070
Professor
Norman Dubeski

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Chapter 3: “Constructionist Perspectives of Deviance” Constructionist Approaches to Deviance: An Introduction Constructionism focuses on the creation of social categories, the imputation of deviance to those categories, why certain rules exist, how they work, what their consequences are and what the dynamics of enforcement are Constructionists focus on how members in society think and talk about and react to behaviour, beliefs, and conditions they regard as unacceptable How deviance is defined, conceptualized, and represented and how those definitions conceptualizations and representations are enacted The social constructionist approach permits inquiry into false accusations; it is secondary that the caused person didn’t do it The constructionist is very comfortable about asking why things such as the witch- craze arose and why mainly women were accused and punished for a nonexistent crime For positivists, the fact that crime was non-existent is crucial because you can’t offer an explanation for the enactment of a behaviour that somebody didn’t do For the sociologists looking only at the cuses of behaviour, the witches didn’t engage in deviance because they didn’t do anything to attract the condemnation To the constructionist, the enterprise for persecution and condemnation is independent of the enactment of the behaviour of which deviants are accused Social constructionists: The distinction between voluntary behaviour, beliefs, and involuntary conditions are irrelevant - what counts if how people who are seen as violating the law are thought of and treated in a particular society The fact that hat person in such categories are treated in a certain fashion is the main issue/focus The study of causes and the study of social construction of deviance are complementary They are the reasons why some people violate society’s rules and why some societies experience more deviance than others - these reasons can be discovered and explained Such norms are created and enforced as a result of systematic, identifiable sociological processes Positivism and social constructionism are a social product and every bit in need of an explanation as deviant behaviour itself Deviance and Social Control Sociologists define social control as: Efforts to ensure conformity to a norm Every time people do something to induce someone to engage in behaviour they believe is right, they are engaging in social control Social control includes: “all of the processes by which people define and respond to deviant behaviour” Social control is formal and informal, governmental and interpersonal, and internal as well as external To constructionists, social control is central as well as the central concept Rules and norms are universal A norm is a rule that calls for proper behaviour, a kind of blueprint for action which implies the expectations that violators are punished or sanctioned when they violate it Some norms apply in specific contexts, settings, or situations, others apply to the behaviour of members of certain groups or collectivities but not others Some minimal level of punishment for wrongdoing is necessary to ensure a minimal level of social order The lack of norms in a given society would result in a state of collapse into a “war of all against all” in which life would be, “poor, solitary, nasty, brutish, and short” (Thomas Hobbes) The central question for the functionalist sociologists is given the natural human tendency to be selfish - how is social order possible? If there were no rules and we were permitted to obtain anything by an conceivable effective means (rape, murder, robbery, or assault) then how is it possible for societies to survive and even prosper? Answer of the functionalists: social control through both learning and acceptable norms and punshing unacceptable and rewarding acceptable behaviour, operates to ensure a society’s survival “Thou shall not murder” Most norms attempt to discourage behaviour that neither directly harms anyone nor threatens the society with chaos and disintegration - they are intended to make a statement about what is considered to be right, good and proper by some or many or most of the society Norms embody certain principles of moral correctness - separate and independent of what they do for society’s physical survival There are several distinctly different varieties of social control: Internal social control which operates through the process of socialization, but learning and adopting the norms of society or a particular group or collectivity within the society All people are socialized by identifiable agents - family which is the earliest agent of socialization. Schools, peers, and the mass media represent influential agents of socialization When the norms of the society are accepted as valid, they can be said to be internalized - the person feels guilty if they were to engage in the behaviour the society or their collectivity considers wrong. When they refuse to do so, it is in part as a consequence of the fact that the relevant form was successfully internalized External social control - when we violate social norms to move “outside the lines” certain agents of social control may detect out behaviour and use some sort of punishment, coercion, or external social control to attempt to bring us back into line Though rewards also make up a form of external social control, we are not rewarded for things we are expected to, we are simply not punished External social control is made up of the system of rewards and punishments that persons, parties, and agents use to induce others to conform to a norm - sanctions (rewards and punishments) Social control is the very foundation stone of the sociologists definition of deviance - Deviance is that which calls forth efforts at social control Formal and Informal Social Control Sociological distinction between formal and informal social control Informal social control takes place under interpersonal interaction between and among people who are acting on their own, in an unofficial capacity Reactions like a frown, or a smile, criticism or praise, and shunning to being warm toward someone are ways we have of exercising informal social control Such reactions show us that someones behaviour either upsets of annoys us In societies, it becomes easy to ignore the disapproval of others if you do not care enough about them to be concerned about how they feel about you Formal social control becomes necessary and is med up of efforts to bring about conformity to the law of agents of the criminal justice system (the police, the courts, and jails and prisons) Agents of formal social control act not on individuals with their own personal feelings about whether behaviour is wrong or right, but as occupants of specific statuses in a specific bureaucratic organizations (the criminal justice system) The sanctions they apply to wrongdoers flow from their offices or positions, to from their personal relationship with the rule violator - this is when transgressions occur, to bring about conformity to the formal code -- the law Both formal and informal social control may operate in the same way - a drug dealer may be arrested by the police as well as be shunned by their neighbours In between formal and informal social control we find semiformal social control - which is based on personal and interpersonal reactions between and among interacting parties, and the formal social control of the criminal justice system (police, courts, and the correctional institutions) Here we have a huge territory of noncriminal, non-penal bureaucratic social control, administered by the government which attempts to deal with the troublesome behaviour of persons under their authority (occurs when a persons behaviour becomes extremely troublesome to others), to step in to handle or control that person to punish or bring them into line with the rules A person(s) deemed difficult or problematic by members of a community come under “the purview of professional controllers” -- such controllers only make recommendations to agents of the criminal justice system that may have bearing on arrest and incarceration (they id not have the power to arrest or incarcerate) Such agents include: social workers, psychiatrists, truant officers, and representatives, functionaries and officers of mental hospitals, civil courts, the Internal Revenue Service and other office tax agencies, social welfare offices, unemployment offices, departments of motor vehicles, and the educational system With sociologists of deviances’ theory that social control is centralized and repressive, they do not feel it is necessary to focus on informal and interpersonal reactions to behaviours and beliefs with the hopes of keeping people in line with rules and norms of the society With informal social control, interpersonal relations are messy, untidy, and less likely to conform to a pattern However, most of the time informal social control is exercised Deviance is sanctioned, the actor is punished or condemned interpersonally by the individuals, not formally by representatives of a bureaucratic organization Informal social control is the “nut and bolts” or the labelling process Informal social control is the foundation of social life Perspectives that Focus on Defining Deviance The constructionist approaches, which deals with behaviour rather than beliefs and conditions, include Labelling or interactionist theory (looks at beliefs and conditions in addition to behaviour) Focuses on rule making, and especially reactions to rule breaking Shifts attentions away from the circumstances that produces the deviant act to “the important role of social definitions and negative sanctions” as well as “what happens to people after they have been singled out, identified, and defined as deviants” Conflict theory Deals with questions of making the rules, especially in criminal law Focuses its attention on the role of powerful groups and classes in the formation and enforcement of the criminal law The powerful are able to ensure that laws favourable to their own interests, and possibly detrimental to the interests of other, less powerful groups and classes, are passed and enforced Feminist theory (looks at beliefs and conditions in addition to behaviour) A variety of conflict theory focusing specifically on the role of sex and gender in deviance and crime Why does patriarchy exist? How do men express and maintain their dominance by defining and enforcing certain actions as deviant and criminal? Controlology (or the new sociology of social control) Michael Foucault This perspective argues that social control is not only the central issue for the sociologist of deviance, but for the sociologists generally A contemporary system Fr. the control of deviance that appears to be humane and scientific, but is more more thoroughgoing systematic, efficient, and repressive than older, more barbarous forms of control that entailed torture and public execution Labelling or Interactionist Theory 1960s Labelling theory grew out of a more general perspective in sociology called symbolic interactionism which is based on 3 premises which form the core of symbolic interactionism and for labelling theory: Meaning: People act on the basis of the meaning that things have for them Interaction: This meaning grows out of interaction with others, especially intimate others Interpretation: Meaning in continually modified by interpretation Interactionist argue that people are active and creative in how they see and act on things in the world All behaviour including deviance, is an interactional product; its properties and impact cannot be known until we understand how it is defined, conceptualized, interpreted, apprehended, and evaluated - what it means to participants and relevant observers alike Labelling theory is an application of symbolic interacts to deviant phenomena Frank Tannenbaum argued that in a slum area, nearly all boys engage in a wide range of mischievous, sometimes illegal behaviour (getting into a lot of fights, skipping school, stealing apples, to throwing rocks at windows) These action are seen as deviant and as criminals by the authorities even though they themselves see nothing wrong with their behaviour and actions In effort to curtail this behaviour, the police apprehend and punish some of these boys and those who continue with such behaviour will be sent to reform school Punishment often has the ironic effect of escalating the seriousness f the deeds that these boys commit - arrest and incarceration often results in the community regarding a boy as incorrigible (unable to be corrected) thus, a budding criminal in the flesh By making the young individual interact with other older, more experienced troublemakers they begin to see themselves as a true delinquent escalating their deviant career increasing their chance that they will go onto a life of crime Edwin Lemert distinguished between primary and secondary deviation Argued that primary deviation is polygenetic - caused by a wide range of factors like someone drinking heavily for a variety of reasons (death of someone close, a business failure, belonging to a group whose members cal for heavy drinking, etc.,) Lemert asserted the original cause or causes of a particular form of deviance is to especially important but what counts is the social reaction to the behaviour from others Secondary deviation occurs when the individual who enacts deviant behaviour deals with the problems created by social reactions to their primary deviations The secondary deviant is a person whose life and identity are organized around the facts of deviance - when someone is stigmatized, condemned, or isolated for engaging in deviant behaviour, it becomes necessary to deal with and manage this social reaction in certain ways They become to see themselves in a certain way, defines themselves in different terms, adopts different roles and associated with different individuals - being
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