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Sociology (1,755)
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Chapter 1

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Sociology 2259
Kim Luton

Chapter 1- Determining Deviance - Who is deviant? - nuts, sluts, and perverts - criminals - important to focus on how people and concepts are deviant to society and its sociocul- tural processes, not just you personally - what/ who determines what is normal? - objective views of deviance claim that the presence of certain characteristics defines deviance - subjective views of deviance claim that there is no shared, observable characteristic that can clearly tell us who or what is deviant in Canadian society - distinction between objective and subjective is typically described as a dualism or di- chotomy, wherein objective and subjective represent 2 oppositional and mutually exclu- sive categories - however, recent shifts in definitions of deviance often go beyond this notion of objec- tive and subjective as mutually exclusive categories and instead combine aspects of both --> Objective/ Subjective Dichotomy - many contemporary ways of looking at deviance are blends of both objective and sub- jective approaches The Objective/ Subjective Dichotomy - objective side of dichotomy, and typically older view of deviance, is that there is some- thing inherently deviant in a person, behaviour, or characteristic - all deviants have something in common that enables us to recognize them when we see them - precise nature of that shared trait is a matter of debate - traits most frequently postulated include statistical rarity, harm, negative societal reaction, and normative violation - sometimes criticized by other deviance specialists, particularly those working from a subjective approach Statistical Rarity - one definition of deviance associated with the objective side of the objective/subjective dualism is based on statistical rarity - not a definition commonly utilized in academic research, popular usage in everyday talk - states that if a behaviour or characteristic is not typical, it is deviant - difficulty in determining the criterion for rarity illustrates one of the limitations of this definition of deviance - second limitation is that some behaviours are not statistically rare, but are still per- ceived as being unacceptable in the larger society and are subjected to control efforts - thirdly, we must also consider that there are many rare behaviours or characteristics that are not considered deviant in Canadian society--> ie. left-handed people, sports prodigies, physically active people - since there is this contradiction and limitation, some deviance specialists propose it is more than the statistical number of people who engage in a specific behaviour that de- termines its deviancy, whereas some believe the harm an action or behaviour causes there also causes it to be deviant Harm - 2nd definition of deviance associated with the objective side of the objective/subjective dichotomy is based on the concept of harm - if the action causes harm, then it is deviant - most obvious type is physical harm, either done to others or oneself - emotional harm can also be done to others and oneself - certain behaviours constitute social harm because although not directed at a specific person, they interfere with the smooth running of society as a whole - finally, harm may be directed at something far more abstract and ethereal than a per- son or society; harm may occur in the form of a threat to the way we understand the world and our place in it - historically religious belief systems have frequently provided us with a means of ab- stract understanding on a large scale - when something is perceived to threaten the fundamental assumptions upon which so- ciety is built, it may be considered deviant - seems self-explanatory that physical harm would be easy to define, but highly influ- enced by societys views ie--> at one time smoking wasnt considered bad for you, and masturbation was considered a massive health risk- also common has been exaggerated claims about the dangers of marijuana use, lead- ing to its criminalization in 1923 - when it comes to the idea of interfering with the current social order, or threatening a belief system or world view, the limitations of defining deviance by virtue of harm be- come more evident - first, whether or not society or a belief system is being harmed can be subjective - if something changes society, is it harmful? ie. feminism - many limitations on using harm to define deviance, therefore rarely used in academic literature - it is recognized tho that harm, or perceived threat or danger is one of the characteris- tics of deviance - Lianos (with Douglass, 2000) proposed that being merely viewed as harmful is what is most significant to the study of deviance Societal Reaction - if the general pop responds negatively rather than positively, then the person or act be- ing responded to is deviant - inconsistencies in public beliefs and laws reveal that law, and more broadly, deter
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