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University of British Columbia
SOCI 100
Debra Pentecost

Deviance 01-07-2013 Chapter 7 from textbook What is deviance?  Deviance – recognized violation of cultural norms (guides virtually all human activities) o Ex. Crime – violation of a society’s formally enacted criminal law  Negative instances of rule breaking  Element of difference that causes us to think of another person as an “outside”  Not all deviance involves action or even choice  All of us are subject to social control – attempts by society to regulate people’s thoughts and behavior  Criminal justice system – formal response by police, courts, and prison officials to alleged violence of the law – for cases of serious deviance The Biological Context  Lombroso – suggested the criminality was related to physical facial features  Sheldon – suggested that body structure mght predict criminality  Genetics research: no link between certain genetic traits and criminality thus far  Critical review: biological theories offer a very limited explanation of crime; offers no insight into how some kinds of behaviors come to be defined as deviant Personality Factors  Focus on individual abnormality  Argument: personality is shaped by social experience  therefore, deviance is a result of “unsuccessful socialization”  Reckless & Dinitz: Containment Theory  Critical review: Personality has some connection to deviance but most serious crimes are committed by people whose psychological profiles are normal. The Social Foundations of Deviance  Deviance varies according to cultural norms. o Only becomes deviant in relation to particular norms  People become deviant as others define them that way. o Behavior is considered deviant depending on how others perceive, define and respond to it.  Both norms and the way people define situations involve social power. o Norms and how we apply them reflect social inequality The Functions of Deviance: Structural-Functionalist Analysis  Deviance is a necessary element of social organization Durkheim’s Basic Insight  Deviance affirms cultural values and norms. o Shows which attitudes and behaviors people prefer. o There can be no good without evil and no justice without crime. o Needed to define and sustain morality  Responding to deviance clarifies moral boundaries. o Draws a boundary between right and wrong  Responding to deviance brings people together. o Reaffirm the moral ties that bind people together  Deviance encourages social change. o Deviance suggests alternatives to the status quo and may encourage change Merton’s Strain Theory  Argument: excessive deviance arises from particular social arrangements (some deviance is necessary for society to function)  Extent and kind of deviance depends on whether a society provides the means to achieve cultural goals  Strain: between cultural emphasis on wealth and the lack of opportunities to get rich gives rise to deviance  Responses to the inability to succeed: o Deviance innovation – using unconventional means to achieve a culturally approved goal o Ritualism – obsessively stick to the rules in order to feel respectable o Retreatism – rejecting both cultural goals and means so that one “drops out”  Deviance: lies in their unconventional lifestyles and their willingness to live that way o Rebellion – reject both cultural definition of success and the conventional means of achieving it but also form a counterculture and advocating alternatives to the existing order Deviant Subcultures  Cloward and Ohlin: extension of Merton’s Theory  Argument: Crime results not from limited legitimate opportunity but also from readily accessible illegitimate opportunity. Deviance or conformity depends on the relative opportunity structure that frames a person’s life.  Where the structure of opportunity factors criminal activity, Cloward and Ohlin predict the development of criminal subcultures.  But when people aren’t able to find any opportunities: o Conflict subcultures – violence is ignited by frustration and a desire for respect o Retreatist subcultures – deviants drop out and abuse alcohol and other drugs  Cohen: criminality is most frequent amongst lower class youth because they have the least opportunity to achieve conventional success  Miller: Deviant subcultures are characterized by… o Tr
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