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SOCA01H3 (480)
Chapter 7


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Ivanka Knezevic

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SOCA01 SOCIOLOGY 1 CHAPTER 7 – DEVIANCE INTRODUCTION  Questions of disvalued action o Why do some people engage in it? o Why do others react to it in particular ways?  Three central objectives of this chapter o Meaning and use of deviance and social control o Major problems faced by researchers who empirically investigate deviance and social control o Major theoretical questions that occupy the time and attention of sociologists who study deviance WHAT IS DEVIANCE? BY ILLUSTRATION  Typical first response: list types of people or behaviours o Criminals o Child molesters o Drug addicts  These lists do not explain why these people are considered to be deviant IN STATISTCAL TERMS  Deviance is identified by rarity -> being relatively unusual  However, this definition forgets about the distinction between negative and positive deviance. o “Obscures distinctions between people who exceed and people who fall short of certain expectations” AS HARMFUL  Equated to an action that produces destructive outcomes  However, there are some deviants who do not cause harm o The mentally ill are seen as deviant but they may not necessarily cause harm o Unethical corporate executives and politicians can cause harm, but might not be seen as deviant DEVIANCE AS A SOCIOLOGICAL CONCEPT  Sociologists are interested in deviance as a product of social interaction and group structure o Study of deviance is the study of people, behaviours, and conditions subject to ‘social control’ o Social Control: The myriad ways in which members of social groups express their disapproval of people and behaviour  Name calling, ridicule, ostracism, incarceration, and even killing  The ways of acting and ways of being that, within particular social contexts and in particular historical social contexts, elicit moral condemnation SOCA01 SOCIOLOGY 1  Of particular interest is why the LGBT people are treated and regarded the way they are  Distinction between ordinary deviance and extreme deviance o Ordinary Deviance: Something most of us engage in  Occasional little white lie, sporadic abuse of alcohol o Extreme Deviance: Only a small amount of us commit  Believing one has been kidnapped by aliens, white supremists  Erich Goode and D. Angus Vail: Extreme deviance is behaviour that is so far beyond the norm hat it invites an extremely strong negative reaction from almost all sector of the community  Distinction between objective and subjective character of deviance o Objective: Particular ways of thinking, acting, and being o Subjective: The moral status accorded such thoughts, actions and characteristics  The deviant character of a something is not implied through the act, thought, physical feature, or belief, but rather conferred onto them by society  For a sociologist to deem something deviant is for the particular behaviour to hold potential for being called deviant (unusual or rare), but also to be labelled as deviant by powerful others o Not necessarily everything that has the potential to be labelled deviant is actually labelled as such by society  Corporations that engage in practices which harms workers can fight the deviant label by making donations to promote a positive image RESEARCHING DEVIANCE  Researchers of deviance uses the same methods as researchers for other topics: experiments, surveys, content analyses, and field analyses  However, there are some difficulties that arise SECRECY  Often, people wish to keep their deviant behaviour secret to protect themselves from social reactions  Researchers attempt to gain the confidence of the subjects by posing as one who shares their deviant status o Ethical dilemma: Deception is never excusable  Confidence can also be gained by obtaining the participants’ informed consent and respecting the group’s need for secrecy by maintaining confidentiality DISCOVERY OF REPORTABLE BEHAVIOUR  If the researcher is informed of illegal or harmful circumstances, does the researcher have an obligation to report that to authorities?  Cross-pressures experienced by researchers o Researcher has professional obligation to respect the confidentiality of information that research subjects divulge SOCA01 SOCIOLOGY 1 o One has a social and moral obligation to protect the safety of the public and the research subjects SAFETY  Researchers should take no action that could result in harm to those who participate in the research o Physical, emotional, mental, and economic harm  Looking into the lives of the most vulnerable members of society THE SOCIOLOGY OF DEVIANT BEHAVIOUR  Deviance: Ways of thinking, acting, and being that are subject to social control o Kinds of conditions and kinds of people that are viewed by most of the members of society as wrong, immoral, disreputable, bizarre, or unusual  Deviance has to distinct yet related dimensions o Objective: Refers to the behaviour or condition itself o Subjective: The placement of that condition by the members of society in their system of moral stratification  Questions o The causes and forms of deviant behaviour o Content and character of moral definitions o Issues that arise over deviant labels  Why do some deviant minorities refuse to act the way the masses do, but their moral status is never called into question?  Reflects functionalist perspectives STRAIN THEORY  Robert Merton  Understand why many types of non-conformity acts are much more pervasive among members of the lower social classes  The reason is in the lack of fit between the cultural goals people are encouraged to seek and the means available to pursue these goals creates a social strain to which deviant behaviour is an adjustment  There is little recognition of class barriers, and therefore everyone is encouraged to pursue the goal of material success. (America)  Stealing would be considered as using illegitimate means to achieve the trappings of success.  Becoming societal dropouts would be withdrawing from the competition to acquiring material goods.  Mostly affects the lower class  Critique o Assumption of accuracy of official statistics o Failure to account for much middle and upper middle class crime and deviance  Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin: Three Types of Delinquency Adaptations o Criminal Pattern: Characterized by instrumental delinquency activities, particularly delinquency for gain, in which those involved seek to generate illegal profits SOCA01 SOCIOLOGY 1 o Conflict Pattern: Characterized by the presence of ‘fighting gangs’ who battle over turf ad neighbourhood boundaries o Retreatist Pattern: Organized around the acquisition and use of hard drugs  Robert Agnew o First source of strain: Inability to achieve the things we want in life o Second source of strain: Inability to avoid or escape some negative condition o Strain can also come from loss of something important  Why some behave in ways that invite social sanction, but no others o External parts of social life that affect the individual CULTURAL SUPPORT THEORY  Cultural Support Theory: Focuses on the way pattern of cultural beliefs create and sustain deviant conduct  People behave in ways that reflect the cultural values to which they have been exposed and then internalize  Conventional values support conventional behaviours and deviant values support deviant behaviour  Edward Sutherland o People become deviant because they have been exposed to learning experiences that make deviance more likely o Deviance is a result of exposure to influential learning experiences o Accepting or valuing deviant behaviour is what makes such action possible  We live in a society that condemns and supports deviant behaviour o Does that mean it is possible to believe in and break social rules? (Stealing)  We have learned to define some deviant behaviours as acceptable in certain situations  Critique o Use of culture to explain deviance is tautological (circular reasoning)  Discusses corporate crime and digital piracy as being “respectable crimes” and crimes which rises from the culture of competition CONTROL THEORY  Most types of deviant behaviour do not require a sophisticated form of explanation  Question: Why don’t more of us engage in ‘forbidden’ behaviour? o Deviant behaviour occurs whenever it is allowed to occur o Deviance can be found when social controls are weak or broken  Emile Durkheim o Study of suicide o Suicide occurs in times of economic boom and during depression o There is social control/regulation that forces people to take others into account and discourages behaviours that are excessively individualistic, therefore, suicide is more likely when people are disconnected from social regulation and left to their own resources  Travis Hirsch o Use social control logic to explain the conduct of youthful offenders SOCA01 SOCIOLOGY 1 o If the youth’s bonds to conventional others (friends, families, etc.) are strong then they will have to take those people into consideration when they act. If their bonds are weak, then they are free to do as they please  Travis Hirschi and Michael Gottfredson o General theory of crime and deviance o Crimes of all types tends to be committed by people who are impulsive, short-sighted, non- verbal risk-takers o Low self-control -> Inadequate child-rearing that fails to discourage delinquent outcomes  Critique o Rendering motivation irrelevant to the study of crime and deviance o Inadequately explaining why people with strong bods also engage in prohibited acts TRANSACTIONAL CHARACTER OF DEVIANCE  Does not view deviance as an individual outcome, but rather collective, interactional, or joint  David Luckenbill o Murder can usually be understood as situated transaction o Six Common Stages of Murder 1. Transaction starts when the eventual victim does something that the eventual offender could define as an insult of as an offence to ‘face’. 2. Offender defines what the victim has said or done as threatening or offensive 3. Offender makes a countermove intended to respond and save face 4. Victim responds in an aggressive manner 5. A brief violent exchange occurs 6. The battle is over and the offender may flee or stay at the scene  Does not imply an absence of guilt or excuse for killing o Shows that deviance can involve complex and significant interactional dimensions  Randall
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