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SOC211H5 (29)
Chapter 1

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Reza Barmaki

CHAPTER1 NOTES: ISSUES IN THE STUDY OF DEVIANCE Why study deviance? • Vicarious experience: by living in our heads the apparently more exciting or interesting lives of others or by investigating them and discovering their own lives are preferable. The fascination with deviance according to psychiatrists is said to be a way of dealing with disowned parts of ourselves. It is a way of coping with the forbidden urges that we supress. Vicarious experience as a research motivation can distort our understanding of deviance. It leads us to study the rare specimens of deviance such as the homosexual necrophiliac cannibal serial killer Jeffery Dahmer. The result is a concentration on violent sexual and crazy deviance and a lack of attention to the more frequent but banal forms of deviance such as cheating. • Reform: To know about causes and cures of crime. Reform as a research motivation has its own dangers. First our search for reform policies sometimes outturns our tested knowledge. For example, the study of deviance contains many tales of experts whose misguided advice and policies caused great harm. Secondly, people who want to reform deviants are afraid to consider the deviant perspective seriously. Third, reform impulse ignores the fact that many kinds of deviance are not as harmful as they are made out to be. • Self -protection and sophistication: To protect ourselves from harm. • Understanding of oneself and others: The identification of deviant lifestyles and images. For example tattoos, body language and clothing are used to symbolize their otherness. • Intellectual curiosity Perspective on deviance People do not always agree on the behaviours of deviance. The different views are shared amongst students, public opinion and academic views. Defining Deviance • Adefinition is neither right nor wrong , it is merely more or less useful.A useful definition is one that is objective, basic, non-circular and distinctive. • The main problem with objective approaches to deviance is that the actual assignment of deviant labels by society is never purely objective. • Harmfulness: It is often supposed that deviance is distinctively harmful. The harms that people associate with deviance are usually physical(body harm), functional(harm to the working of the system and ontologic
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