Sociology understanding and changing the social world
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Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World. Chapter 5 Deviance, Crime, and Social Control. Learning Objectives. Define deviance, crime, and social control Understand why Emile Durkheim said deviance is normal Understand what is meant by the relativity of deviance

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Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World

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Sociology understanding and changing the social world

Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World

Chapter 5Deviance, Crime, and Social Control

Learning objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Define deviance, crime, and social control

  • Understand why Emile Durkheim said deviance is normal

  • Understand what is meant by the relativity of deviance

  • Explain what biological and psychological explanations of deviance have in common

  • State the major arguments and assumptions of the various sociological explanations of deviance

Learning objectives1

Learning Objectives

  • Describe how gender and race affect public opinion about crime

  • Explain problems in the accurate measurement of crime

  • Describe the demographic backgrounds (race, gender, age, location) of conventional criminals

  • Be familiar with examples of white-collar crime and with the various harms of such crime

  • Explain the arguments over laws prohibiting victimless crime

Learning objectives2

Learning Objectives

  • Explain the get-tough approach to conventional crime and describe its disadvantages according to several scholars

  • Discuss the implications of sociological explanations of deviance and crime for strategies to reduce conventional crime

  • List several programs and policies that sociology suggests will reduce conventional crime

  • Explain the difficulties in reducing the volume of white-collar crime

Social control and the relativity of deviance

Social Control and the Relativity of Deviance

  • Deviance: Behavior that violates social norms and arouses negative social reactions

  • Crime: Behavior that violates these laws and is obviously an important type of deviance that concerns many Americans

  • Social control: Ways in which a society tries to prevent and sanction behavior that violates norms

    • Informal social control — Controls behavior that violates informal norms

    • Formal social control — Controls behavior that violates formal norms

  • Social control is never perfect — So many norms and people exist that there are always some people who violate some norms

Social control and the relativity of deviance1

Social Control and the Relativity of Deviance

  • According to Emile Durkheim, a founder of sociology, a society without deviance is impossible, because:

    • Collective conscience is never strong enough to prevent all rule-breaking

    • Deviance serves important functions for society

  • Emile Durkheim considered deviance a normal part of every healthy society, because:

    • Society “invents” deviance by defining certain behaviors as deviant and the people who commit them as deviants — Which makes deviance inevitable

Social control and the relativity of deviance2

Social Control and the Relativity of Deviance

  • Deviance may be normal, but:

    • Some people are more likely than others to commit it

    • Some locations within a given society have higher rates of deviance than other locations

  • Relativity of deviance — Whether a behavior is considered deviant depends on the circumstances in which the behavior occurs and not on the behavior itself

Explaining deviance

Explaining Deviance

  • Biological and psychological explanations of deviance share central proposition:

    • Deviants are biologically or psychologically different from nondeviants

    • Deviants have biological or psychological problems that predispose them to committing deviance

Explaining deviance1

Explaining Deviance

  • Sociological explanations suggest that deviants are normal people who have been influenced by the social environment to commit violate social norms

Explaining deviance2

Explaining Deviance

Explaining deviance3

Explaining Deviance

  • Durkheim’s views

    • Deviance has several functions:

      • It clarifies norms and increase conformity

      • It strengthens social bonds among the people reacting to the deviant

      • It can help to lead to positive social change

  • Social ecology

    • Certain social and physical characteristics of urban neighborhoods contribute to high crime rates

    • These characteristics include poverty, dilapidation, population density, and population turnover

Explaining deviance4

Explaining Deviance

  • Strain theory: Robert Merton’s view that deviance is caused by a failure to achieve the American goal of financial success through the conventional means of working

  • Deviant subcultures

    • Poverty and other community conditions give rise to certain subcultures through which adolescents acquire values that promote deviant behavior

Explaining deviance5

Explaining Deviance

  • Social control theory

    • Travis Hirschi wrote that delinquency results from weak bonds to conventional social institutions such as families and schools

    • These bonds include attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief

  • Power perspective

    • People with power pass laws and otherwise use the legal system to secure their position at the top of society and to keep the powerless on the bottom

Explaining deviance6

Explaining Deviance

  • Social status perspective

    • The poor and minorities are more likely because of their poverty and race to be arrested, convicted, and imprisoned

  • Feminist perspectives

    • Inequality against women and antiquated views about relations between the sexes underlie rape, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and other crimes against women

Explaining deviance7

Explaining Deviance

  • Differential association theory: Edwin Sutherland’s view that deviance stems from interacting with primary group members who commit deviance and have values conducive to deviance

  • Techniques of neutralization: Gresham Sykes and David Matza’s term for the rationalizations and justifications individuals arrive at before committing deviance

  • Labeling theory: The view that extralegal factors affect whether someone acquires a deviant label, and that being labeled deviant increases the chances of future deviance

Crime and criminals

Crime and Criminals

  • Does gender affect our fear of crime?

    • About 46 percent of women are afraid to walk alone at night, compared to only 17 percent of men

  • Does race affect our fear of crime?

    • African Americans are more afraid than whites of walking near their homes alone at night

  • Does race affect our views about the criminal justice system?

    • African Americans are much less likely than whites to favor the death penalty

      • They perceive that the death penalty and criminal justice system in general are racially discriminatory

Crime and criminals1

Crime and Criminals

  • Accurate measurement of crime is difficult to achieve:

    • Many crime victims do not report their victimization to their police

    • The UCR omits crime by corporations and thus diverts attention away from their harm

    • Police practices affect the UCR

    • If crime victims become more likely to report their crimes to the police the official crime rate will again change, even if the actual number of crimes has not changed

  • To overcome this problem the federal government began the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)

Crime and criminals2

Crime and Criminals

  • Conventional crime: Violent and property offenses, including homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft

  • White-collar crime: Crime committed in the course of one’s occupation

  • Victimless crime: Illegal behavior in which people participate voluntarily, including drug use, prostitution, and gambling

How to reduce crime

How to Reduce Crime

  • The get-tough approach to crime has not proven effective even though it has cost billions of dollars and led to other problems

  • Racialized politics are thought to have led to the surge in incarceration that has been the highlight of this approach

How to reduce crime1

How to Reduce Crime

  • Programs and policies that sociology suggests will reduce conventional crime:

    • Establish good-paying jobs for the poor in urban areas

    • Establish youth recreation programs and in other ways strengthen social interaction in urban neighborhoods

    • Improve living conditions in urban neighborhoods

    • Change male socialization practices

    • Establish early childhood intervention programs to help high-risk families raise their children

How to reduce crime2

How to Reduce Crime

  • Improve the nation’s schools by establishing small classes and taking other measures

  • Provide alternative corrections for nondangerous prisoners in order to reduce prison crowding and costs and to lessen the chances of repeat offending

  • For ex-offenders, provide better educational and vocational services and better services for drug and alcohol abuse

How to reduce crime3

How to Reduce Crime

  • Scholars attribute the high level of white-collar crime (corporate crime), to the following:

    • Greed arising from our society’s emphasis on economic success

    • The absence of strong regulations governing corporate conduct and a severe lack of funding for the federal and state regulatory agencies that police such conduct

    • Weak punishment of corporate criminals when their crimes are detected

How to reduce crime4

How to Reduce Crime

  • What can you do to fight the causes of crime and deviance?

    • Volunteer with an organization that helps tutor and mentor students at risk for antisocial behavior and delinquency

    • Volunteer with a local housing authority or community redevelopment agency

    • Create a program to educate young males about masculinity and violence in the media and to provide them with role models of strong, successful men who are engaged in their communities and families

    • Volunteer with an after-school recreation program

    • Work for a local organization that provides services for ex-offenders

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