Sociology Chapter 2 Notes:
Deviance is a term used to refer to various kinds of behaviour that go against a social norm, rule
As a result finding evidence of deviance is difficult because people do it secretively.
Sociologists developed techniques for investigating deviant behaviour and their social
o Case Studies
o Institutional research
o Other methods
Sociologists also study how rules are created in society:
Deviance: banned or controlled behaviour likely to receive punishment or disapproval.
Deviant actors make their lives more dangerous and difficult by breaking rules.
Deviation is covert and secretive. Deviants are also uncooperative when they are detected.
Deviants rarely engage in collective efforts to interpret their own behaviour.
Time consuming to gain intimacy with deviants to observe acts
o This will be a partial sighting (particular gang)
o Cannot attempt to apply this sample to others and/or make it universal)
Individual subjects will also resist full surveillance.
Theories and theorist will define phenomena differently because of:
o Time changes
o Locational differences
o Divergence based on variety of choices
Sociology is constrained by structure of its own field
o Obstructed and eased.
o Groups aren’t easily accessible equally.
o Barriers to sociologists are greater, asking questions and exploring secrets, this requires
the sociologist to seek intimacy with strangers, something not considered normal.
Criminologist’s own experiences plays apart, usually what and where they study (workplace
Volatility of deviance makes research not guarantee proof.
o Gays are easy to study.
o Professional crime is difficult to study.
Barriers within social worlds may restrict research
o Gain access to a gang for research would alienate you from rival gangs as a result.
Methodological Studies Observational Macro
o Expressive deviance that requires an audience are called ‘ego screaming’.
o Possible to join fringes of deviant activity, witness exchanges and exploit opportunities.
o When deviance is public, access is eased.
o However, public gatherings not only consist of coercive but also standardized and
anonymous language and beliefs that does not portray individual interest.
o Analysis often requires observing individual feelings, beliefs, desires and thoughts.
o When deviance is hidden, it requires that access to a secret world be obtained through
o Snowballing: gain confidence of one informant and gain introduction to others in
o Limitations imposed by a social network. Introductions are not forthcoming or are
The Case Study
o Sociologists collaborate on a deviant’s life story to learn the part played by rule breaking
in the life of one person.
o Intimacy achieved with deviant because of visiting and interviewing.
o Depth and detail is achieved instead of being able to declare sociological laws.
o Research is a social relation and impossible to remain disengaged.
o Sociologist presence may be seen as collusion, interest, or complicity.
o Research that requires the active collaboration of the sociologist.
o Sociologist experiences have causes and effects in a particular social setting that can
lead to deviance.
o Pose intricate ethical problems and not very safe.
o Research those in a prison or mental hospital as they are more likely to accept being
o Problem is gaining access to institution itself.
o Transforms an enclosed community into a sociological subject (institutions become
focus of study).
o Second use for this is they are repositories for people who are of interest to sociologists,
particular ones threatening. These threatening subjects are well guarded and secretive
and would only be visible in prisons (murderers and rapists).
o Police and official agencies collect samples.
This cannot be generalized to the general public or untreated/uncaught
deviants. Institutions impose their own mark on inmates, they deform communication
and there are no external checks on what is said by the incarcerated.
There is a belief that there is a tendency to