Chapter 7 Textbook Notes
ProfessorMalcolm Mac Kinnon
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Chapter 7 Text Book Notes
-For last 3 decades Canadian constantly place crime among the top 3 of the social issues that concern
- Crime in general & violent crime in particular is on the rise.
- Majority of Canadian adults feel the courts are too lenient with offenders (young offenders
-Crime simply indicates a technical violation of criminal law.
-Sociologists consider how Social Definitions, Social Relationships & Social Conditions lead to crime
events & labeling by law.
“ SOCIAL DEFINITION ”
A)TYPES OF C&D (CRIME & DEVIANCE)
-Deviance – Breaking a norm (not breaking social average but a socially accepted norm/rule of
Deviant acts are punished formally & informally.
Informal Punishment – Mild – eyebrow raise, gossip, shaming or stigmatization (negatively
evaluated because of a marker of difference, distinguishing them from others EX: hair, looks,
Formal Punishment – results from breaking law(norms enforced by govt bodies EX: prisontime,
community service hours)
Types of deviant crimes classified in 3 dimensions (John Hagan)
1) Severity of social response – murder will result in severe social response such as life
imprisonment or even capital punishment, whereas wearing a nose ring brings mild social reaction
(disapproval of slight deviation from norms).
2) Perceived harmfulness – “PERCEIVED” not actual. Sexual assaults-seen as very harmful &
tattoos are regarded as harmless. EX: COCACOLA contained cocaine, now cocaine is illegal a
change in people’s perception of harmfulness.
3) Degree of public disagreement – disagreement between people. People argue about whether
marijuana should be illegal considering the fact that it also aids cancer patients with their pain &
nausea. EX: definition of murder varies across cultures & societies (killing newborns in Inuit
communities-not a crime – helps save scarce resources. A workers death at work due to safety reasons,
highly debatable, “Accidental” should the company be held responsible?)
Four types of C&D s – (John Hagan)
1) Social Diversions – minor acts of deviancy EX: Fads & Fashions (blue hair, piercings) evoke
most mild social reactions such as amusement or disdain. Usually harmless
2) Social Deviations – more serious acts, subjected to institutional sanctions (more people agree
these are deviant acts & somewhat harmful) EX: Japanese school banning long hair that was punished
by a humiliating public haircut.
3) Conflict Crimes – deviant crimes defined as illegal by state, but in a wider society the issue is
controversial EX: tax on beard in Russia under Tsar Peter – since it symbolized russia’s past instead
of future.(classified as a crime only in Russia; harmed Russia because it represented Russia’s past)
4) Consensus Crimes – “bad” crimes, very little controversy or debate about them. Great majority
of people support punishment for these crimes. EX: a peasant sporting the haircut of a warrior (brings
social order of Japan in question, breaking the caste system rules)
THEY ALL SHOW THAT PEOPLE’S CONCEPTION OF C&D VARIES OVER TIME &
BETWEEN SOCIETIES (EX: HAIR STYLE CAN BE A MATTER OF LIFE & DEATH.)
B ) POWER & SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF C&D
Social Constructionism – school of sociological thought that emphasizes various social problems
including crime as not inherent in certain actions themselves, instead some people are in a position to
create norms/laws that stigmatize other people.
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