NS chapter 19 Deviance and crime
Thomas Haythe (Harvard Graduate)- owner of 8 largest law firm in Canada got drunk + groped
female lawyers and employees charged with sexual harassment suit dismissed
Harold Samuel Fine tried to advertise condoms through mail prosecuted
25 years ago these laws didnt exist + these 2 ppl wouldnt be arrested
The Haythe and Fine cases are sociologically interesting because they illustrate how definitions and
perceptions of deviance change over time and how disagreements often arise over those definitions.
Sociologists who study deviance remind us that rules change and that people often disagree with the
Breaking rules does not always get one labeled as deviant and sometimes people are labeled deviant
without breaking any rules.
Some sociologists are interested primarily in where rules about deviance come from, how and why these
rules change and the consequences of labeling people or behaviors as deviant.
Others focus on why some people become rule-breakers.
Studying how deviance is defined and how people react to it tells us about how a society is organized;
how power, privilege and resources are distributed; and how social order is achieved.
Deviance and crime are at the heart of the struggles every society goes through to organize its social life.
Deviance and Crime as Outcomes of Social Control
Nonconformity becomes deviance when it produces a negative social reaction and when there are
concerted public efforts to change the behavior or punish the person. This is called social control.
Social Control refers to the various means members of society use to encourage conformity to norms
ad to punish violations of norms.
Informal social control occurs through interactions among individuals and includes expressions of
disapproval, avoidance, and the many other ways that we try to communicate and enforce what we feel
are standards of appropriate behavior in our everyday lives.
Self-control is one type of informal social control and the most effective at preventing rule violations.
(The internal voice asking What would others think? represents self control).
Formal social control is that practiced by the state through official organizations and agents, primarily
within the criminal justice system.
Formal social control relies largely on the external control of people after they have been defined as
Between informal, interpersonal control and the more punitive controls of the criminal justice system
lies a network of social controls based in different organizations, agencies and institutions, such as
social welfare organizations, psychiatric agencies, and public health clinics and so on.
The softer forms of control seek to regulate behavior through reason, persuasion and scientific
authority but can also be repressive and forceful.
Organizations and agents of social control are also actively involved in influencing which people and
what type of behaviors are classified as deviant and how different types of deviance are dealt with.
Deviance can have positive consequences for some social groups.
Since deviance and crime occur in all societies, Durkheim reasoned, they must serve some positive
One benefit a group can gain from rule breaking by its members is increased social solidarity or
Serious violations of a groups rules bring people together in collective expressions of outrage and loss,
reminding them of their common values. The killing of 14 female engineering students at the University of Montreal in 1989 was a tragedy felt
throughout Canada. Both the immediate response and the continuing commemoration of the killings
have brought together Canadians of all sorts in a common condemnation of violence against women.
According to Durkheim, another potential benefit of deviance is the clarification of a groups moral
boundaries. (E.g. the No Means No campaign sent a message to both women and men that sex
without consent is rape.)
It allows those who follow the rules to feel virtuous and reinforces their conformity by reminding them
of the costs of rule breaking.
Durkheim also stated that societies need deviance to keep them flexible and to allow them to adapt to a
Dr. Henry Morgentaler regularly performed abortions in Quebec abortion clinics, not hospitals and
performed them on demand- without the approval of a therapeutic abortion committee as required by
law. He was prosecuted for doing so but there was no legal defense available to him so the government
gave up prosecuting him.
This effectively permitted abortion on demand at specialized clinics.
Gary Marx identifies a number of ways in which efforts to define and punish deviance actually produce
For example, high-speed chases by police have resulted in serious injuries and deaths of bystanders,
often leading to manslaughter charges against people who otherwise would have faced less serious
Deviance is created through social control and is not simply a characteristic of behavior. The same act
can be treated as merely an indiscretion in some societies and as a capital crime in others.
Crime is a special case of deviance. It is defined by social norms that are formalized in criminal law.
Virtually all Canadians would say that the intentional killing of one person by another should be treated
as a serious crime.
Euthanasia, death penalty, killing by soldiers during times of war, or fatal shootings by police are all
instances of intentional killing. Should be treated as serious crimes?
The Social Construction of Deviance and its Consequences
Social construction of deviance the processes through which deviances are created.
Moral Crusade is an organized campaign to discredit an activity or group of people so that it becomes
viewed as deviant and deserving of stigma.
Moral crusaders push for the creation of deviance definitions by making claims that certain behaviors
or conditions violate fundamental moral standards and therefore require formal recognition as wrong.
Example: Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is a campaign to educate the public about the costs
of drunk driving, to stigmatize those who drink and drive, and to increase criminal penalties for drunk
The success of a moral crusade depends on the extent to which claims makers can enlist the support of
groups with substantial political and economic power, especially the states official rule makers (e.g.
legislatures) and rule enforcers (e.g. courts)
A common sense response is that claims makers recognize the harm in the behaviors or conditions they
seek to define as deviant and take it upon themselves to educate the rest of society.
Status Conflict and the Social Construction of Deviance
Marxist theorists-conflicts between different classes, and the desire of the capitalist class to control the
working class results in some behaviors (such as burglary) being targeted for control more than other
behaviors (such as corporate crime).
Foucault- Fundamental but often disguised conflicts in modern society emerge over knowledge and the
ways it is produced and legitimated through the media, technology and scientific expertise. Knowledge and the languages that express it are intimately linked to power, especially the power to
construct definitions of right and wrong, good and evil.
Status-conflict perspective- a perspective that argues that definitions of deviance emerge from
struggles between different interest groups that compete for status, influence and moral authority.
The law is an important target of these struggles because of its power to define and punish deviance.
Winning groups can advance their interests over losing groups, gaining greater access to power,
resources and authority.
By controlling definitions of deviance, winning groups accomplish at least two goals.
First they legitimate their moral standards and hence their claims to moral authority over losing groups.
Second, they can determine the types of social controls applied to deviance and affect the demand for
different prothssions and occupations and for different social control bureaucracies.
Beginning of 20 century-psychoactive drugs (opium, heroin and cocaine) were widely available in
Canada- Users were rarely stigmatized since many were middle-class women and men.
Within 2 decades, use of many psychoactive drugs was criminalized and subject to severe penalties.
The dramatic change was the result of a campaign by various interest groups and politicians.
The true motivations behind the campaign included cultural and economic antagonism toward Asian
immigrants, some of whom brought a new form of drug use to Canada.
These immigrants were willing to work for lower wages than working-class whites; they were strongly
resented by white workers.
In addition, certain occupational groups supported the campaign, partly out of a desire to strengthen the
power base of government bureaucrats.
Organized interest groups also engage in similar kinds of campaigns in order to challenge