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Chapter 1

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University of Guelph
SOC 2070
Norman Dubeski

CHAPTER 1 Chapter 1: Social Deviance Deviance: Behaviours, beliefs or characteristics that many people in a society find or would find offensive and which excite, upon discovery, disapproval, condemnation, hostility or punishment.  The process by which the actor’s, the believer’s and the possessor’s character is tainted, stigmatized, and inferiorized. Denying the reality of deviance is entirely mistaken for three reasons:  We can find widespread agreement that certain acts and beliefs are wrong  What is regarded and reacted to as wrong is not simply about firm society-wide consensus, but also about how certain social circles of people feel and what they do in specific situations and contexts  Some disagreement prevails even about widely accepted norms There are 4 necessary ingredients for deviance to take place  A rule or norm must exist  Someone must violate that norm  An audience must be presont, someone who judges the normative violation to be wrong  There must be a measurable likelihood of a negative reaction by that audience (criticism, disapproval, censure, stigma) When we say that in American Society, generally, prostitutes, political radicals, and atheists tend to be looked down upon and regarded as deviants, this does not mean that we necessarily agree with the judgement. It means that as sociologists, we recognize that certain negative consequences are likely to result from announcing this to a cross section of society  The terms deviant and deviance are absolutely non-pejorative: the are descriptive terms that apply to what others think and how they react.  Deviance is an analytic category: it applies in all spheres and areas of human life: it is a trans-historical and cross-cultural concept Societal and Situational Deviance  Societal Deviance: composed of those actions and conditions that are widely recognized, in advance and in general, to be deviant (hierarchical) o High degree of consensus o Hierarchical/Vertical: The people with the most power get to say what is deviant and what is normal. Certain acts, beliefs and traits are deviant society wide because they are condemned by the majority, the post powerful members of society  This raises the question of the dominance of one category or society over another. Some groups are more powerful, influential and numerous than others  Social scientists say that a dominant belief or institution is hegemonic: it holds swat over beliefs held or institutions supported by less powerful social groupings  Situational Deviance: does not exist as a general, society-wide quality, but in actual, concrete social gatherings, circles or settings. o A given act, belief or trait can be a normative violation in one group/society, and conformist in another. o Mosaic/Horizontal: society/societies are mosaics of separate and independent collectivities of people who do not influence each other.  This is compatible with the situational definition of deviance  Low consensus deviance: what fetches condemnation in one social circle produces indifference or even praise in another ABC’s of Deviance  Attitudes: unpopular, unconventional beliefs that may or may not manifest themselves into actions o Holding unconventional, unorthodox, or unpopular beliefs may be regarded as cognitive deviance  Behaviour: any overt action (including the failure to act) that is likely to attract condemnation, hostility or punishment. o Actions speak louder than words. A dishonest character is revealed or manifested mainly by dishonest behaviour, a weak will and an inability to resist temptation.  Conditions: physical characteristics or traits that likewise, make someone the target of an audience’s disapproval. o Possessing unconventional, unacceptable physical traits is deviant. If the disabled receive negative social reactions from the abled, they are deviant o Achieved Status: some statuses are achieved, like graduating college o Ascribed Status: statuses which are not achieved, but are thrust upon an infant at birth. Being born into a certain family is an ascribed status Tribal Stigma: a form of deviance that automatically discredits someone because they belong to a racial, national or religious category of humanity. Relativity: The sociology of deviance is relativistic. Deviance changes based on who the audience is, what time period it is and where you are. Essentialism: sees deviance as a specific, concr
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