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Chapter 5

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Sociology 1020
Kim Luton

Soc1021e-652 Alexandra Sdao Chapter 5: Deviance → The study of crime and deviance is not a single coherent field of study → Instead, it is a mixed endeavour that brings together assorted methodological, theoretical and political orientations to the study of crime The Relativism of Deviance → Getting agreement on a behaviour that is and always has been deviant is more difficult a task than it might first appear. → Historians point out that many acts we now see as reprehensible were previously accepted → Different social groups often embrace very unique rules about proper and improper behaviour, which can clash with dominant social standards → The notion that standards of right and wrong, deviant and normal, depend on context → Relativism: orientation that recognizes that what counts as deviance varies across cultures and through history and therefore does not judge whether such acts are right or wrong → Such relativism is typically a purely academic orientation- a way for sociologists to examine deviance in as disinterested a manner as possible → Does not mean “anything goes”-almost all academics are committed to a believe that some behaviours are simply wrong The relationship between Crime and Deviance → Deviance is a much broad category and refers to a pattern of norm violation → Norms are shared expectations of behaviour and prescribe what is culturally appropriate or desirable and are a core concept in the sociological deviance → Abnormal: violates a norm, implies a value judgement that the behaviour is wrong → Norms are akin to informal rules that are acquired through processes of socialization → Crimes are behaviours that have been officially recognized by the state as serious forms of anti-social behaviour → A considerable volume of crimes are also forms of deviance → Not all deviant behaviours are criminal → The loose relationship between crime and deviance accentuates that there can be an intense political dynamic to decisions about what types of behaviour become classified as crimes Studying Crime and Deviance → Almost every social scientific discipline contributes to our understanding of deviance Official Data → Criminologists often analyze data produced by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, which is the unit within Statistics Canada that collects and publishes national data on crime, courts and corrections → Its most prominent data is the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), which produces standardizes measures of officially recorded crimes in Canada → Analysis of official crime data has produced important insights into the nature of dynamics of crime in Canada → Data reveal that crime, with some notable exceptions, is generally a male undertaking. → Men and young men in particular are disproportionately involved in criminal behaviour → We also know that the vast majority of crime is not violent → Homicide and attempted murder only accounts for 0.05 percent of all violent crimes in Canada → Crime statistics are a measure of police activity → There are many reasons people do not report crime to the police, including a belief that the police cannot do anything to rectify the situation, a distrust of the police in certain Soc1021e-652 Alexandra Sdao cultural communities or a sense that calling the police might make things worse → The cumulative effect of such non-reporting is that the police never learn about a considerable volume of crime → Official crime statistics can severely underestimate the volume of certain types of crimes → Crime Funnel: the process by which the actual number of crimes is reduced through losses attributable to fear, bias, discretion and human error → Dark figure of crime: the unknown amount of crime that is not contained in official crime statistics or social science methodologies Victimization and self-report studies → Victimization surveys and self-report studies are also used to study criminal behaviour → They are particular helpful in shedding light on the dark figure of crime → Victimization Survey: a methodology which involves asking individuals to reveal the nature and amount of criminal behaviour they have personally experienced, typically over the past 12 months → These studies provide a greater sense of the types of crimes that are not reported to the police → Self-report studies: a methodology which involves asking individuals to reveal the amount of crime or deviance in which they have personally been involved → Advantage to approach: measures crimes that never make their way onto official statistics → Crimes of various stripes are very common; in the words of criminologist Thomas Gabor “everybody does it” → Like all survey research, victimization surveys and self-report studies only study a sample of the population Race and Crime Statistics [Side Box] → Historically, Canadian crime statistics routinely included information on occupation, education, and religion, along with place of birth, and a crude measure of ethnicity → Criminologists used this information to discuss group differences in criminal behaviour → Today, some groups fear that crime statistics based on race or ethnicity will be used to promote hatred and discrimination 1. Official crime rates are a function of police behaviour. Hence, differences in ethnic or racial crime rates might be a result of police paying over-attention to the behaviours of certain groups, more than such individuals being overly criminal 2. White-collar crimes are under reported compared to arrests for street-level drug sales. Individuals from the predominately white Canadian establishment commit more of the former and the recent immigrants more of the latter, thus creating a somewhat inaccurate picture of the relationship between ethnicity and crime 3. Lack of agreement on the traits that distinguish ethnic groups lead to difficulties in unambiguously classifying many individuals into distinct ethnic and racial groups. Ethnography → Helps develop an understanding of deviant groups → Ethnography ALSO KNOWN AS Participant Observation: a research strategy whereby a researcher becomes a member of a group in order to study it, and group members are aware that they are being observed → Aims to learn about the world of deviance from the vantage point of the people who are personally involved in such activities → Ethnographies provide a sense of the criminal as a human being, someone who is often motivated by ambitions and desires that are familiar to everyone → Limitations of ethnographic research include the fact that it tends to focus on individuals who are comparatively low to the social spectrum-street gangs, homeless people, and street-level drug dealers figure prominently in this literature → Ethnographic studies of elites are much rarer because of the additional difficulties in Soc1021e-652 Alexandra Sdao accessing such individuals or securing their permission → The fact that ethnographic research tends to focus on the actions of individual behaviour can be shaped by larger structural factors Deviance Manners → Manners/etiquette: social rules that govern interpersonal relations → Formal social control mechanisms: the official practices used by the state to ensure conformity and lawful behaviour, including police, courts and prison → Informal social control mechanisms: such reactions typically come from individual citizens or community groups, and can include subjecting an individual to ridicule, shaming, gossip, and occasionally excluding them from the group → Civilization process: as defined by Norbert Elias, the historical process whereby people acquire greater capacity to control their emotions. Entails a long-term change in the structure of feelings. → Sensibilities: broad structures of feelings → Over the centuries these sensibilities have become much more refined such that modern individuals are now much more easily and deeply offended by a host of phenomenon that people in earlier societies found unremarkable, including interpersonal violence, public sexuality and human waste → Manners contribute to social processes that help to distinguish groups from one another and are also part of the broader dynamics of group power Deviance and the human body → Contemporary society has a heightened fixation on the shape of the human body, which at times borders on obsession → The body has become a project-something to be worked on, moulded, and transformed to meet specific criteria → Different cultures hold different standards of normal or beautiful bodies → Our bodies say a great deal about us, often revealing our group membership and our relationship to wider society → A woman’s thin body is not just an aesthetical ideal, but also involves a moral valuation of a woman’s wroth, as her body size reveals her ability to exercise restraint, self control and discipline. → Stigma: a physical or social attribute that can devalue a person’s social identity → By reading assorted visual cues we try to determine, among other things, who might be bad, dangerous, mad or weak → Goffman suggested that there were three general categories of stigma: (1) stigma of character might involved interpreting someone as being dishonest, domineering or having weak will; (2) tribal stigma are related to a person’s being a member of certain kinds of tainted groups, which might include particular nationalities, races or religions and finally; (3) stigma of the body refers to a culturally specific deviations from idealized body types. Theories of Crime Pre-scientific Theories Religion → Religious explanations for deviance are outside of the predominantly secular framework of today’s scientific establishment → Nonetheless, religion still plays an important role in the larger societal dynamics of deviance Classical criminology Soc1021e-652 Alexandra Sdao → Classical criminology: aims to deter crime through the rational and calibrated use of the state’s formal system of punishment → Hedonistic calculus: the philosophical assumption that people behave in light of conscious considerations of the anticipated costs and benefits of their actions → Crime, was therefore assumed to be the product of criminals anticipating the financial or other personal rewards, while not believing there was much risk in such behaviour → Reformers believed that the level of punishment should be finely calibrated to match the seriousness of the crime, and that punishments should not be excessive → For the principles of classical criminology to work effectively, two additional factors must be in place: 1. Official punishments must be certain. The public must believe that if they commit a crime it will be almost inevitable that they will be caught and punished 2. The punishments must occur as quickly as possible after a crime is committed-often referred to as the principle of “swiftness” → The factors that contribute to people committing a wide range of crimes are often not rational, but are much more spontaneous and emotional → Classical criminology has been criticized for having an overly free vision of human nature that overlooks the other types of factors that might shape or limit a person’s “choice” about whether to engage in crimes, including individual personality, biology, psychology, or a host of social structural variables, all of which have been emphasized in subsequent theories Environmental criminology → Environmental criminology: involves efforts to reduce crime and deviance by changing the physical environment in ways that make such behaviour impossible or more difficult → Environmental criminology is also based on certain assumptions about criminals, in particular that they are largely lazy and as a result will tend to take advantage of only criminal opportunities that are readily available to them → Environmental criminologists seduce such opportunities. They do this in at least three different ways o Target hardening: this involves efforts to shape the physical environment such that the possibilities for deviance are severely reduced. I.E., use of more locks and higher fences o Enhanced visibility: environmental criminologists also try to deter criminals by making potentially attractive criminal targets more visible. Advocate cutting back shrubbery on property to remove a burglar’s potential hiding spot Soc1021e-652 Alexandra Sdao o More guardians: criminal behaviour is more likely to occur in unsupervised spaces. Hence environmental criminologists advocate increasing the number of people who monitor public or private locations → Part of the attraction of environmental criminology is that many of the procedures it advocates are both ingenious and involve a certain degree of common sense → Displacement: the process whereby criminals respond to anti-crime initiatives by conducting their criminal behaviour in another location Biological and psychological theories → Biological theories are concerned with looking for the roots of deviant behaviour, which they believe lie in individuals. → Researchers generally agree that biology plays a role in establishing some forms of mental illness → In most cases, both social and biological factors are important → Beisner and Iacono noted that predisposition to schizophrenia is biological but that environmental factors such as poverty and adverse working conditions play a role in triggering it → Part of the higher mental illness rates among the elderly is due to their loss of social status and their loneliness, not just biological aging Sociological criticisms of biological and psychological theories → Biological explanations of deviance are generally rejected by sociologists because they pay insufficient attention to the social factors that interact with their explanations → Thus, it may not be the higher levels of testosterone in males that lead to crime, but the fact that they are more rewarded and encouraged by others for their aggression and therefore learn to be more criminal → Also, because of their extroversion, they may be more noticed, thus inflating their deviance rates → Genes work in combination with other genes; hence there is never a single gene for anything → Societies can and do change what is and is not a crime, which seems to undermine the notion that something as broad and diverse as crime can have a genetic cause → Psychological theories are also criticized by sociologists for the difficulty of measuring some of their concepts and for underestimating the influence of social factors that precede psychological factors in deviance → Psychologists hold social variables such as race, sex, age, and social class constant, an d then look for differences in psychological variables, while sociologists focus directly on those social variables Functionalism → Sociological proposition: deviance is normal → Here, something is defined as normal if it is inevitable and if it serves positive social functions → Functionalist sociologists point out that deviance meets both of these criteria Soc1021e-652 Alexandra Sdao → Every known society has treated some behaviours as deviant → So long as these are not widespread and or serious enough to undermine the basic fabric of society, deviance can be beneficial in some ways → First, deviants can become scapegoats a society can unify itself → Deviants can also help unite conformists by serving as common enemies, especially when no external enemies exist → Deviance also helps to set the moral boundaries between groups, serving the social function of dividing “us” from “them” → Second, deviants can be used to ma
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