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Chapter 16

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Marcela Cristi

Chapter 16 Crime and Social Deviance A sociological understanding of deviance and crime  All societies have norms (rules) that govern acceptable behavior  Norms make social life possible by making behavior predictable. Why? o Because social norms provide the basic guidelines for social interaction— how we play our roles and how we interact with others  This allows for social order, a groups usual and customary social arrangements  Deviance threatens the social order, so human groups develop systems of social control  I.e., formal and informal means of enforcing norms  Deviance: any behaviour that violates social norms regardless of their seriousness  Deviance is a relative term that is socially defined o deviance can be difficult to define o degrees of seriousness (violation of folkways, mores, etc.)  Becker (1966): it is not the act itself but the reactions to the act that make something socially deviant  acts considered acceptable in one culture may be considered socially deviant in another  Crime: any social behaviour designated by the law as criminal, and subject to penal sanction  fines, jail terms, etc.  Definitions of crime change over time  For example, o adultery o homosexuality o labour laws  Crime varies according to the degree of seriousness of the offence  All crime is deviant, but not all deviance is criminal  What a particular society view as criminal behaviour or social deviance depends on: o whose behaviour it is o who is affected by it o in what context it occurs  Example: o violence instockey o Killing (1 degree murder, manslaughter, etc.)  Deviance cannot be defined in absolute terms, but we can determine if an act is deviant based on: o the perceived harmfulness of an act o the degree of agreement o the power of those doing the definition o intensity of societal response Theoretical Explanations of Deviance: Demonology  Early Theories:  The first school of criminology was the school of Demonology  Based on religious beliefs that equated crime with sin  People commit their crimes under influences of demons  Therefore, people aren't responsible for behavior or crimes, because they can't control their behavior o Trephaning Classical School of Criminology  Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794)  Classical School: based on the Social Contract Theory  the idea that individuals give up some freedom and, in return, the state protects their lives  punishment necessary, but it should fit the crime o horrific torture/sanctions violate the rights of the individual  Cesare Beccaria’s theory/ideas  Humans are rational beings, capable of making own decision. They break the law because they benefit from doing so  Crime is a possible choice for some individuals  Societies need a Criminal Code (clearly specifying penalties for each offence), and a Court system independent of the government o due-process of law and safeguards to all accused o Canada’s current criminal justice system based on the ideas of the classical school Biological & Psychological Theories  Biological explanations: look for answers within the individual  Genetic predispositions; inheritance  Psychological explanations: also look for answers within the individual  Personal/Psychological disorders  Neither of these hold up to scrutiny The Positive School of Criminology  Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909)  Italian criminologist, physician, and founder of the Italian School of Positivist Criminology  stated that criminality was inherited  "born criminals" could be identified by physical defects, which confirmed a criminal as savage, or atavistic The Positive School of Criminal Behavior  “Atavistic” behaviour  a reversion to a primitive or subhuman type of man characterized by physical features reminiscent of apes, lower primates, and early man and to some extent preserved, in modern "savages“  Criminals depicted as biological "throwbacks" who will inevitably be contrary to the rules and expectations of modern civilized society Contemporary Biological Theories  Genetic predispositions  Sex o males commit far more violent crimes, property crimes and other types of crime than females o violent crime is corrrelated with being male  “XYY” theory  Biochemical factors, brain dysfunctions  Intelligence, body type Psychological Theories  Explain crime & social deviance in terms of individual personality  personality disorders  Unconscious mechanisms o undercontrol (predisposed to violence) o overcontrol (overly passive, avoid violence) Sociological Theories  Sociological explanations focus on social influences in deviance--factors outside the individual  Crime and social deviance are relative and thus have little to do with the individual  Look for social influences that “recruit” some people to break norms  Factors of interest: socialization, subcultural membership, social class Symbolic Interactionist Perspective: Differential Association Theory  Edwin Sutherland  deviance is learned  our choice of membership influences our actions and helps to shape the self  learning to deviate or to conform to society’s norms is influenced most by the people with whom we associate  Friends & neighbourhoods  Subcultures o all subcultures impart attitudes about social deviance that are learned by their members  People become criminals when they expect more favourable than unfavourable consequences of breaking the law Symbolic Interactionist Perspective: Labeling Theory  Labelling theory focuses on the significance of labels given to people  negative labels stigmatize & isolate the individual from the conventional world  Stigma: attributes that discredit people  labels tend to become part of the self-concept  stress the role played by social control agencies (police, lawyers, the courts) in the “construction” of deviance  Some examples of labels?  Negative Labels o Whore o slob  Positive Labels o genius o brilliant o entrepreneur  Labels affect how other perceive an individual and how they perceive themselves Rejection labels:  Techniques of neutralization (Gresham Sykes and David Matza)  denial of responsibility  denial of injury  denial of a victim  condemnation of the condemners  appeal to higher loyalties Types of Deviance: (Edwin Lemert)  Primary- casual acts of deviance that have no part or little effect on self- concept  Secondary- gradually a deviant identity becomes part of self-concept as people start to self-label  Tertiary- “normalization” of behaviour considered deviant by society & re- labelling it as non-deviant  Most of us resist being labelled deviant  Others revel in a deviant identity o Example: motorcycle gangs  Social class & labels: The Power of Labels  William Chambliss’ study: The “Saints” & the “Roughnecks” o different social class backgrounds o different treatment/perceptions by the police were the result of social class differences Functionalist Perspective  Its roots are traced back to Emile Durkheim  law represents the consensus of the people  deviance is normal & “functional” to society  Three essential functions o clarifies moral values, boundaries, and norms o promotes social unity o encourages social change  Functionalism and Social
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