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Chapter 1

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC211H5
Professor
Nicole Myers
Semester
Winter

Description
Readings Ch.1 Issues in the Study of Deviance Vicarious Experience  We can enrich our lives with vicarious experience –that is by living (in our heads) the apparently more exciting or interesting lives of others –or by investigating them and discovering that our own lives are preferable.  Reform as a research motivation has its own dangers  First, our search for reform policies sometimes outruns our tested knowledge  The currently popular assumption that lack of self-esteem causes delinquent behavior can result in programs that produce proud delinquents rather than ex-delinquents  Second, the belief that understanding means excusing often interferes when reform is the motivation  Third, reform impulse also ignores the fact that many kinds of deviance are not as harmful as they are made out to be.  The historical record shows us that many things that were deviant a generation ago (such as women going to medical schools) are now seen as precursors of social change and signs of the growth and adaptation of society to new conditions. Academic Views of Deviance  In the 1930s sociology and social psychology were used as tools to deal with social problems such as unemployment, mental illness, family breakup, delinquency and crime. Many of these problems of troubled and troubling people were related to phases of industrial capitalism (such as the Great Depression) and oncoming (but not yet recognized) globalization Statistical Rarity  Deviance is often equated with typicality or deviation from a common centre. This conception is represented in the bell (or Gaussian) curve or normal distribution Harmfulness  Functional Harm: occurs when deviance has a negative effect on the way that a particular system works  Ontological Harm:  Harmfulness does not distinguish or define deviance Normative Violation  One way of looking at the normative definition of deviance is to look for the normative standard that governs the behavior. For each form of deviance, at least one standard is being violated.  The normative dominance of capitalist forms of enterprise over alternative forms has often meant that people who prefer to involve themselves in noncompetitive, nonprofit, environmentally conscious types of enterprise have, at least until recently, been subjected to deviance labels.  When people are designated as deviant, they have often been “getting away with it” (whatever it was) for a long time before the final change in their status from normal to deviant.  Behavior that violates rules is not deviant if the individual is not subject to these particular rules  A second problem with the normative violation definition is that being deviant does not mean one escapes from all demands concerning the behavior  The moderately conforming citizen probably has more freedom than do many deviants or criminals, who must deal not only with the forces of law and order but also with the often brutal social controls of the subculture or underworld.  A third problem with the use of normative standards to define deviance is that the most visible regulations are not always the most powerful codes of behavior operative in a particular situation.  The written rules, religious precepts, and even laws of the land do not always represent the effective “common values” of society Social Reaction  Deviance is sometimes defined in terms of the social response it evokes  We can look at the issue of response under 4 headings: negative response, tolerant response, denial and romanticization Negative Response  If a particular behavior typical elicits criticism or punishment, it is deviant in the eyes of those who respond this way  Deviants can be identified by the ridicule, scorn, exclusion, punishment, discrimination, fear, disgust, anger, hate, gossip, arrest, fines, confinement, or other negative reactions
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