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Chapter 1

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SOC 2070
Linda Hunter

Deviance, Conformity, and Social Control Chapter 1 (1-34) – Determining Deviance Who Is Deviant? - Nuts, sluts, and perverts - Shift from unusual to mundane illustrates “deviance is not marginal, it is central to what we do” - People who commit crimes, those who perpetuate injustice (racists)  popular consensus o Anyone that is disliked - Exists at societal level rather than individual (where pet peeves lie) How Can we Recognize Deviance When We see It? - Dictionary definition ▯ involves violating the norms that have been accepted in society, serious, makes one abnormal and unnatural - Academic realm o Deviance specialists analyze criminal and/or non-criminal forms of deviance  Disagreement over the definition o Those who focus exclusively on criminal forms of deviance are criminologists - Shift from historical objective definitions to subjective definitions (contemporary approach) - Objective views claim the presence of certain characteristics defines deviance: behaviours or people w/ those characteristics are deviant, and those lacking such characteristics are normal - Subjective views claim there is no shared, observable characteristic that can clearly tell us who is deviant, and normal; someone must tell us who is deviant - Distinction b/w subjective and objective  dualism/dichotomy – two oppositional and mutually exclusive categories The Objective/Subjective Dichotomy Objectivism: Deviance as an Act - Something inherent in a person, behaviour, or characteristic that is deviant - All deviants have something in common that enable us to recognize them - Characteristics of shared feature– statistical rarity, harm, negative societal reaction, normative violation Statistical Rarity - Not used in academic research but popular usage - If a behaviour or characteristic is not typical, it is deviant - Popular credibility but has limitations o Definition of “rare” difficult to determine o Some behaviours not statistically rare but perceived as unacceptable and subject to control efforts  Teenage alcohol consumption and sexual activity o Many rare behaviours that are not considered deviant  Left handed people Harm - If an action causes harm then it is deviant - Physical harm – assault, drunk driving, secondhand smoke, acts on the self - Emotional harm to others and self - Directed at society o Social harm – interfere w/ smooth running of society as a whole o Criminals threaten safety of population at large and the social order as a whole o All crimes in Canada considered to harm society - Threat to the way we understand the world and our place in it o Religious belief systems – joan of arc - Perceptions of harm galvanize social action, such as laws and bylaws - Idea of physical harm has changed o Historically doctors said masturbation caused hairy palms, acne, and insanity  Many behavioural controls put into place o Physical harm of marijuana use campaigns until illegalization  Said to cause violent crimes, murder, idiocy, insanity, and death - Whether or not a society or belief system is being harmed is subjective o Muslim women who do not cover their heads o Feminism changing society – thought change was a harm by negatively impacting social order - Need to go beyond harm to define deviance Societal Reaction - If the responses of society’s masses are primarily negative then the person or act being responded is deviant o Enables us to determine who or what is deviant - Gaps in defining deviance this way - Legislative action regarding one issue (same-sex marriage) is to be based on a representation of societal reaction, while legislative action on another issue (decriminalization of marijuana) is to be independent of societal reaction and oppose public opinion - The law and determinations of who/what is deviant in Canadian society, are based upon processes that go beyond societal reaction - Societal reactions are not uniform, different groups of people react in diff ways to the same behaviour/issue Normative Violation - Objectivists ▯ absolutist conception o A behaviour or characteristic was perceived as being inherently and universally deviant o Certain immutable norms and values that should be held in all cultures at all times o What is wrong in one place should be wrong everywhere - Modern objectivists – norms perceived as being culturally specific rather than universal o Learn what behaviours will be rewarded and punished in own culture o Violate these norms then considered deviant - Violating some norms result in prison while violating other norms have diff consequences o Being obese, alcoholic, social assistance recipient, plagiarism don’t enter you in criminal justice system for their normative violations - Various types of norms, ranging from folkways to mores to laws - Norms  informal, everyday behaviours, such as rules of etiquette, choice of clothing, and behaviour in classroom o These kinds of informal norms are called folkways and if you violate them you are considered odd - Mores  standards often seen as foundation of morality in a culture, such as prohibitions against incest or homosexuality o Violate them and though of as immoral or evil - Some considered central to smooth running of society and are enshrined in legal system o Integrates mores - Integration of norms into objectivist definitions presumes level of consensus o Assumed that citizens agree on the norms o Question extent to which expectation must be shared in order to be considered a norm  Used as standard - Normative consensus difficult to determine  multiplicity of individuals, groups and sets of expectations - Deviance equated w/ criminality - Law creation is a political activity o Norms embodied in law don’t necessarily reflect opinion of citizens - Consensual view of law – law perceived as arising out of social consensus and equally applied to all - Conflict view (social power perspective) – law as a tool used by the ruling class to serve its own interests o More applied to members of powerless classes ins society o Howard Becker – police more likely to enter lower-class youth into the justice system and let middle class go w/ warning - Interactions view – non-consensual view of criminal law o Society’s powerful define the law at the behest of interest groups, who appeal to those w/ power in order to rectify a perceived social ill o Criminal law seen as emerging out of the interests of certain groups - Complex view of criminal law  the nation’s law must attempt to strike some sort of a balance b/w the interests of the powerful, the opinion of the majority, and the views of special interest groups - Situational applicability of broad social norms o Self-defense, capital punishment, military action in wartime, euthanasia  taking human life may be acceptable o Taking another life not called murder in these circumstances - Some norms have higher levels of consensus - High-consensus deviance and low consensus deviance o Distinguishes b/w forms of deviance that have differential levels of support in broader society o Norms in criminal law characterized by more consensus than society’s non- legislative norms - Limitations of normative violation definition of deviance caused shift to subjective side Subjectivism: Deviance as a Label - Say we cannot recognize deviance when we see it; we have to be taught, thru processes of socialization, that a person, behaviour, or characteristic is deviant - No single trait shared by all deviant people thru out history and across cultures - Early subjectivism focused on labeling o Negative reaction as its foundation o Deviance lies in reaction rather than the act - Objective use of negative reaction focuses on societal reaction - Early subjective use of negative reaction is abstract o Can never know how a particular act will be responded to o Processes that contribute to reaction and the nature of the reaction itself that must be analyzed - Dominant moral codes of society serve as the foundation for determining who or what is deviant o Lists of right/wrong o Moral codes shaped by the interests and the actions of groups that hold some level of power - Complex nature of power relations o Use and legitimization of power interacts w/ negotiations about moral boundaries —less powerful groups in society are able to participate - Social construction of deviance and normality/conformity in constant state of flux Subjectivity and the Social Construction of Deviance - Nothing inherent in a behaviour or characteristic that makes it deviant - Deviant only if the dominant moral codes of a specific society at a certain time in history say the behaviour is deviant o “Relativist
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