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Chapter 3

SOC 2070 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Intensify, Barometer, Jeremy Bentham

Course Code
SOC 2070
Norman Dubeski

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Week 3
Chapter 3: Constructing Deviance – page #49-73:
Deviance and Social Control:
Sociologists define social control as efforts to every construct and ensure conformity to as a
Every time people do something to induce someone to engage in behaviour they believe is
right, they are engaged in social control; every time they discourage someone from doing
something they consider wrong, likewise, they are engaging in social control
Social control is both formal and informal, both internal as well as external
To the constructionist who studies deviance, social control is central perhaps the central
Now and throughout human history, all societies everywhere have set and enforced norms
rules about what their members should and should not do
All societies set rules; some members of all societies violate some of those rules; and all
societies attempt to enforce these rules by punishing or otherwise controlling those violators
But “deviance” is not simply the violation of norms and rules; it is the dynamic between their
violation and their enforcement what context they are violated in, who violates them, who is
offended by their violation, and how serve their violation is thought to be
A “norm” is simply a rule that calls for proper behaviour, a kind of blueprint for action
implied in a norm is the expectation that violators are punished or sanctioned when they
violate it
Some norms apply in specific contexts, settings, or situations still other norms apply across
the board, that is, to everyone in a given society
There is no person in any society who is exempt from that norm, and there exists practically
no situation or context when such behaviour is allowed
Regardless of whether a given norm applies to all situations or only some, to certain people
or all of them, the fact is, everyone, everywhere is subject to certain norms
Being human means being subject to the norms of the groups to which one belongs and the
society in which one lives but some people are “more equal” than others, and the normative
violations of some of us may be ignored or underplayed, while others will be more severely
Those who are favoured are able to get away with a great many more sins than those who
are disadvantages
Some minimal level of punishment for wrongdoing is necessary to ensure a minimal level of
social order
At some point, 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, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”,
Thomas Hobbes.
Most norms attempt to discourage behaviour that neither directly harms anyone nor threatens
society with chaos and disintegration
Most norms are intended to make a statement about what is considered by some, many, or
most members of a society to be right, good, and proper
They embody certain principles of moral correctness separate and independent of what
they do for society’s physical survival
Clearly, protecting society from actions that are so harmful as to threaten our and society’s
survival is not the sole purpose for the norms or the punishment of their violators there is
implicit norms and their enforcement a version of moral correctness, an ethos, a way of life
that is an end in itself
We are expected to do certain things because they are right, because that’s the way things
are done
Internal social control operates through the process of socialization, by learning and adopting
the norms of society or a particular group or collectivity within society
The family is, of course, the earliest agent of socialization, one of whose primary functions is
attempting to internalize into children the norms of society in which they live if the family
fails to do so, children are more likely to engage in behaviour regarded by society as deviant

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Week 3
Later on, schools, peers, and the mass media represent influential agents of socialization
much of their socialization also represents efforts at internal social control
When the norms of society are accepted as valid, they can be said to be internalized when
internalization is successful, persons feel guilty if they were to engage in the behaviour
society or their collectivity considers wrong; if they refuse to do so, it is in part as a
consequence of the fact that the relevant norm was successfully internalized
Socialization is only one weapon in society’s arsenal of social control when conventional
socialization operates effectively, it acts as an internal form of social control
But in one way or another, society is usually only partly successful in instilling its version of
the norms into us
There are always some people for the most important norms, the minority who don’t
accept the legitimacy of the norms
The fact is, most of us are incompletely and to some degree partly unsuccessfully socialized
as a consequence, another form of social control is necessary; society moves to exercise
external social control
A great deal of social control is coercive and repressive; it relies on punishment and force
many of us wish to violate society’s norms, to move “outside the lines”, but when we do so,
certain agents of social control may detect our 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, usually we are not rewarded
for things we are expected to do, we are not simply punished
External social control is made up of the system of rewards and punishments are referred to
as sanctions a positive sanction is a reward and a negative sanction is a punishment
Social control is the very foundation stone of the sociologist’s definition of deviance
deviance is that which calls forth efforts at social control
Formal and Informal Social Control:
“Informal” social control takes place in interpersonal interaction between and among people
who are acting on their own, in an unofficial capacity
Since most people seek the approval of others whom they care about, they tend to adjust
their behaviour to avoid the disapproval of significant others by discontinuing the offensive
behaviour or at least hiding it from public view
However, in large, complex societies, especially with a substantial volume of contact between
and among strangers, informal social control is usually no longer sufficient to bring about
conformity to the norms
In such 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” is made up of efforts to bring about conformity to the law by agents of
the criminal justice system: the police, the courts, and jails and prisons
In principle, agents of formal social control act not as individuals with their own personal
feelings about whether behaviour is wrong or right, but as occupants of specific statuses in a
specific bureaucratic organization, that is, the criminal justice system
The sanctions they apply to wrongdoers flow from their offices or positions, not from their
personal relationship with the rule-violator
It is the job or function o such agents to act, when transgressions occur, to bring about the
conformity to the formal code, that is, the law
Somewhere in between informal social control, which is based on personal and interpersonal
reactions between and among interacting parties, the formal social control of the criminal
justice system the police, the courts, and the correctional institutions we find “semiformal”
social control 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
Persons deemed difficult or problematic by members of a community come under “the
purview of professional controllers” these “professional controllers” do not have the power
to arrest or incarceration but they can make recommendations to agents of the criminal
justice system that may have bearing on arrest and incarceration

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Week 3
Some sociologists of deviance equate “social control” with formal and semiformal social
control they ignore the private, informal, interpersonal reactions to behaviour and beliefs by
individuals as a meaning of keeping people in line with the rules and norms of society
Most of the time that social control is exercised, it is informal most of the time that deviant
behaviour is sanctioned, the actor is punished or condemned interpersonally, but individuals,
not formally by representatives of bureaucratic organization
Formal social control tends to be much less common and more fitfully applied the vast
majority of rule-breaking behaviour is ignored by the apparatus of formal and semiformal
social control
Informal social control is the foundation of social life
Perspectives That Focus On Defining Deviance:
The constructionist approaches include labeling or interactionist theory, conflict theory,
feminist theory, and controlology or the “new” sociology of social control
As with all new perspectives, constructionists deal mainly with behaviour rather than beliefs
and conditions
But unlike the essentialist, causal, and positivistic perspectives, constructionists especially
labeling and feminist approaches look at beliefs and conditions in addition to behaviour
Labeling or interactionist theory or school focuses on rule-making and, especially, reactions
to rule breaking
Conflict theory deals with the question of making the rules, especially the criminal law
conflict theory 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
favorable to their own interests and detrimental to the interests of others, less powerful
groups and classes, are passed and enforced
Feminist theory is a variety of conflict theory focusing specifically on the role of sex and
gender in deviance and crime
Controlology or the “new” sociology of social control is a perspective that grew out of the work
of Michel Foucault it argues that social control is not only the central issue for the
sociologist of deviance, but for the sociologist generally
Contemporary society has devised a system for the control of troublesome behaviour that
appears to be humane and scientific, but it is far more thoroughgoing, systematic, efficient,
and repressive than older, seemingly more barbarous forms of control that entailed torture
and public execution
Labeling or Interactionist Theory:
Labeling theory grew out of a more general perspective in sociology called symbolic
interactionism this approach is based on “3 simple premises”
1. People act on the basis of the meaning that things have for them
2. This meaning grows out of interaction with others, especially intimate others
3. Meaning is continually modified by interpretation
All behaviour, deviance included, is an interactional product; its properties and impact cannot
be known until we understand how it is defined, conceptualized, interpreted, apprehended,
and evaluated in short, what it means to participants and relevant observers alike
Labeling theory is not a separate theory but an application of symbolic interactionism to
deviant phenomena
Primary deviation is simply the enactment of deviant behaviour itself any form of it; Lemert
argued that primary deviation is polygenetic caused by a wide range of factors the original
cause or causes of a particular form of deviance is not especially important; 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 his or her primary deviations “the secondary
deviant, as opposed to his actions, is a person whose life and identity are organized around
the facts of deviance”
When someone is singled out, stigmatized, condemned, or isolated for engaging in deviant
behaviour, it becomes necessary to deal with and manage this social reaction in certain ways
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