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Chapter 1

Deviant Behavior Chapter One.docx

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Legal Studies
LS 202
Sharon Roberts

Chapter One: Introduction  Deviance is behavior, beliefs or characteristics (or behavior, beliefs or characteristics that are imputed to a particular person) that many people in a society find or would find offensive and which excite, upon discovery, disapproval, punishment, condemnation or hostility  Deviance is likely to generate negative reaction in others  Deviance is the process by which the actors, believers and posessors character is tainted, stigmatized and inferiorized  Sociology of deviance looks at informal and interpersonal reactions to behavior, beliefs and traits  Ex. Prostitution, KKK, bribing a government official, using heroine, robbing a bank  The study of deviance is about making rules, breaking rules and reactions to breaking rules  Deviance is a process, not specific forms of behavior  Deviance describes what is likely to happen when people break rules that are held in society or among social circles within a society  Denying the reality of deviance is entirely mistaken for 3 reasons: 1. We can find widespread agreement that certain acts and beliefs wrong 2. What’s regarded and reacted to as wrong is not simply about firm society-wide consensus, but also about how certain social circles or people feel and what they do in specific situations and contexts 3. Some disagreement prevails even about widely accepted norms, but is about “struggle over whose rules will prevail”  For deviance to exist or take place: 1. Rule or norm must exist 2. Someone must violate or be thought to violate that norm 3. An audience must be present, someone who judges the normative violation to be wrong 4. There must be a measurable likelihood of a negative reaction by that audience-criticism, condemnation, censure, stigma, disapproval and so on  There are two sides to deviance: one is the vertical or hierarchal side, the side that says that people with more power (or the majority of society) get to say what’s deviant  The other side, horizontal, “grassroots” or mosaic side, says deviance can be anything that any collectivity says it is, no matter how little power they have  Societal deviance; composed of those actions and conditions that are widely recognized, in advance and in general to be deviant. There is high consensus on the identification of certain categories of deviance  Ex. Rape, robbery, corporate theft  Certain acts, beliefs and traits are deviant society-wide because they are condemned, both in practice and principle, by the majority or most powerful  Situational deviance; does not exist as a general or society-wide quality, but in actual, concrete social gatherings, circles or settings  Ex. Homosexuality is accepted in San Francisco, but is illegal nation wide  Social scientists say that a dominant belief or institution is hegemonic  This is known as high-consensus deviance; there is a widespread agreement as to their deviant behavior  Acts, beliefs and conditions that are situationally, but not societally, deviant may be regarded as low-consensus deviance (public opinion is divided about their deviant status)  Adler uses the ABC’s of deviance-attitudes, behavior and conditions  Attitude refers to unpopular, unconventional beliefs that may or may not manifest themselves in overt actions  Behavior is made up of any overt actions (includes the failure to act) that is likely to attract condemnation, hostility or punishment  Conditions includes physical characteristics or traits that likewise, make some a target of an audience’s disapproval, avoidance, derision, or other types of negative
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