SOC100H5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 9: Differential Association, Ritualism In The Church Of England

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15 Feb 2011
Chapter Nine: Deviance
What is Deviance?
Defn: recognized violation of cultural norms
Crime: violation of societys formally enacted criminal law
Most familiar examples of nonconformity are negative instances of rule breaking
What deviant actions/attitudes (-/+) have in common is some element of difference
that caused us to to think of another person as an outsider
Social Control
Defn: attempts by society to regulate peoples thoughts and behaviour
Informal process
Criminal justice system: formal response by police, courts, and prison officials to
alleged violations of the law
How society defines deviance, who is branded as deviant, and what people decide to
do about deviance all have to do with the way society is organized
The Biological Context
A century ago, most people understood human behaviour to be result of biological
Early interest in criminality focused on biological causes
Used physical characteristics to identify criminals
Concluded that genetic factors and environmental factors were strong predictors of
adult crime and violence
Personality Factors
Psychological explanations of deviance focus on abnormality in individual
Think that personality is shaped primarily by social experience
Deviance therefore is a result of unsuccessful socialization
The Social Foundations of Deviance
While we view deviance as the free choice or personal failing of individuals, all
behaviour is shaped by society
1.Deviance varies according to cultural norms
No thought/action is inherently deviant; it becomes deviant only in relation to
particular norms
Values and behavioural standards are different
What is deviant or even criminal is not uniform throughout different places
2.People become deviant as others define them that way
Everyone violates cultural norms at some point
Depends on how others perceive, define and respond to it
3.Both norms and the way in which people define rule breaking involve social
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Karl Marx- law is the means by which powerful people protect their interests
Norms and their application reflect social inequality
The Functions of Deviance: Structural- Functional Analysis
Deviance is necessary for social organization
Durkheims Basic Insight
Said there is nothing abnormal about deviance
1.Deviance affirms cultural values and norms
Any definition of virtue rests on opposing idea of vice; there can be no good without
evil and no justice without crime
2.Responding to Deviance clarified moral boundaries
by defining some individuals as deviant, people draw a boundary between right and
3.responding to serious deviance brings people together
people react with shared outrage
reaffirm moral ties
ex. Montreals Ecole Polytechnique
4.Deviance encourages social change
Deviant people push a societys moral boundaries, suggesting alternatives to the
status quo and encourage change
An illustration: The puritans of Massachusetts Bay
Deviance may be found in every society, but the kind of deviance people generate
depends on the moral issues they seek to clarify
Mertons Strain Theory
Robert Merton- argues that deviance depends on the extent to which society
provides the means (jobs/school) to achieve cultural goals (making money)
Strain generated by our cultures emphasis on wealth and lack of opportunities to
get rich encourage some people to engage in stealing, drug dealing or other forms of
Called ^ innovation: using unconventional means to achieve culturally approved
Innovation involves accepting cultural goal (making money) but rejecting
conventional means of obtaining it (hard work) in favour of unconventional means
Ritualism: inability to reach cultural goal
Many people believe they cant achieve cultural goal of becoming rich so they stick to
conventional rules in order to feel respectable
Retreatism: rejection of both cultural goals and means to person just drops out
oex. Drug addicts, alcoholics, street people
rebellion: reject both cultural definition of success and conventional means of
achieving it but they go one by forming counterculture that supports alternatives to
the existing social order
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Deviant Subculture
Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin
Proposed that crime results not just from limited legitimate opportunity but also
from readily accessible illegitimate opportunity
Illegal opportunities foster development of criminal subcultures that offer
knowledge, skills, and other resources needed to succeed in unconventional ways
Conflict subcultures: where violence is ignited by frustration and desire for respect
Retreatist subcultures: deviants drop out and perhaps abuse alcohol or other drugs
Albert Cohen- minor crime most common with lower class youths because they have
the least opportunity to achieve conventional success
Elijah Anderson- poor urban neighbourhoods, most people manage to conform to
conventional values
Labeling Deviance: Symbolic Interaction Analysis
Explains how people define deviance in everyday situations
Definitions of deviance and conformity are flexible
Labeling theory
Defn: idea that deviance and conformity result not so much from what people as
from how others respond to those actions
People may define the same behavior in a number of ways
Primary and Secondary Deviance
Edwin Lemert
Primary deviance: some norm violations provoke slight reaction from others have
little effect on persons self-concept; passing episodes
Secondary deviance: response to primary deviance; person repeatedly violates norms
and begins to take on deviant identity
Defn: powerfully negative label that greatly changes persons self-concept and social
Operates as master status
Person is discredited in minds of others and becomes socially isolated
Harold Garfinkel- degradation ceremony: entire community formally stigmatizes an
individual (ex. Criminal trial)
Retrospective and Projective Labelling
Retrospective labeling: interpreting someones past in light of present deviance
Projective labeling: a deviant identity is used to predict future action
Labeling Difference as Deviant
Behaviour that irritates or threatens us in labeled not just as different but as
deviance or mental illness
Neither mental or physical illness is grounds for being labeled deviant
The Medicalization of Deviance
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