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Chapter 6: Deviance and Social Control:. Sickos, Perverts, Freaks, and People like Us. Soc 100. Dr. Santos. Introduction. Deviance- the violation of social norms Stigma- the disapproval attached to disobeying the expected norms

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Chapter 6 deviance and social control

Chapter 6: Deviance and Social Control:

Sickos, Perverts, Freaks, and People like Us

Soc 100

Dr. Santos


  • Deviance- the violation of social norms

  • Stigma- the disapproval attached to disobeying the expected norms

  • Crime- the forms of deviance in which formal penalties are imposed by the society

  • We are all deviant at some time or another and in some places

What is deviance
What is deviance?

  • Deviance is a violation of ever-changing social norms

    • Deviance is culturally dependent and historically located, exists always in juxtaposition with some “normality”

    • Deviance is socially constructed even though some of it might be characterized as an immoral absolute

    • Deviance is overlooked in some situations

Who what is defined as deviant
Who/what is defined as deviant?

  • Both acts and individuals (and even entire groups) can be defined as deviant: “Condemn the sin, love the sinner,” “aliens”, “misfits”. etc.

  • Low status persons (e.g. ethnic minorities, poor people) are more likely to be perceived as deviant, their good behavior “explained away”

  • Higher status persons (e.g. priests, doctors) are less likely to be defined as deviant, their bad behavior “explained away”

Structural functionalist viewpoint
Structural-functionalist viewpoint

  • Deviance serves vital functions for society

    • Sets examples of unacceptable behavior

    • Provides guidelines for (opposite) behavior that is necessary to maintain social order

    • Bonds people together through their common rejection of deviant behavior

    • Provides jobs for those who deal with deviants

    • Can signal problems in a society that need addressed (stimulate positive change)

    • Opens societies to new and creative paths of thinking

Misconceptions about deviance
Misconceptions about deviance

  • Some acts are inherently deviant

  • Those who deviate are socially identified and recognized

  • Deviants purposely and knowingly break the law

  • Deviance occurs because there is a dishonest, selfish element to human nature

Micro level explanations of deviance
Micro-level explanations of deviance

  • Social control theory - our bonds with society encourage us to conform; with fewer bonds, we are more likely to be deviant

  • Rational choice theory - the decision to be deviant depends upon a cost/benefit analysis of sanctions

  • Differential association theory - conformity or deviance is learned from those we spend time with

  • Labeling theory - behavior is not intrinsically deviant, but becomes deviant because it is labeled as such

    • Members of a society define (label) what is deviant and impose sanctions for that behavior

    • Individuals who engage in primary deviance are not labeled, but those who engage in secondary deviance are

Labeling theory con t
Labeling theory, con’t.

  • Being labeled can reinforce deviant behavior by:

    • Increasing alienation

    • Forcing increased interaction with deviant peers

    • Motivating juvenile delinquents to positively value and identify with the deviant status

  • Deviance becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy

  • Those with less power in society are more likely to be labeled as deviants

Meso and macro level explanations of deviance
Meso and macro-level explanations of deviance

  • Structural-functionalist theories

    • Anomie - the breakdown of the norms guiding behavior leads to social disorganization

    • Strain theory - those with fewer resources are less able to achieve societally shared goals and may resort to deviant behaviors to achieve their desired goals

Merton s ways of adapting to strain
Merton’s ways of adapting to strain

  • Conformity - embracing the society's definition of success and adhering to the established and approved means of achieving success

  • Innovation - use of illicit means to reach approved goals

  • Ritualism - strict adherence to culturally‑ prescribed rules, even though individuals give up on the goals they hoped to achieve

  • Retreatism - giving up on both the goals and the means

  • Rebellion - rejecting the socially approved ideas of "success" and the means of attaining that success, but replaces those with alternative definitions of success and alternative strategies for attaining the new goals

  • Conflict theory - deviance is a result of social inequality

    • Elites want to maintain control, so they define what is deviant to benefit themselves and deflect attention from their own behaviors

    • The greater the power differentials and inequalities, especially class, the greater the conflict in a society

    • Conflict is inevitable under the current capitalist power arrangement

  • Feminist theory - abuses suffered by women are rooted in the patriarchal, capitalist system

    • The causes include the gendered division of labor, the separation of spheres, and the socialization of children

    • Cultural attitudes toward crime against women differ based on the status of women in that society

    • Women are less often in a position to commit crimes and often commit crimes that are different from men’s

Crime and individuals macro level analysis
Crime and individuals: macro-level analysis

  • Laws reflect the current opinion of what is right or wrong

  • Consensus crimes - members of a society are in general agreement about the serious of the deviant act

  • Conflict crimes - one group passes a law over which there is disagreement or which disadvantages another group

Types of crime
Types of crime

  • Predatory or street crime

  • Victimless or public order crimes

  • Hate crimes

  • Organized crime

  • Occupational or white collar crime

  • State organized crimes

  • Global crimes

Types of white collar crimes
Types of white-collar crimes

  • Crimes against the company

  • Crimes against employees (e.g., the neglect of worker safety)

  • Crimes against customers

  • Crimes against the public

  • White-collar crimes are less publicized, but ultimately more costly and more deadly than violent predatory crimes

Ways of measuring crime
Ways of measuring crime

  • Uniform crime reports

  • Self-reported surveys

  • Victimization surveys

  • Triangulation is best!

World systems perspective
World systems perspective

  • The cause of deviance lies in the global economy, inequalities between countries, and competition between countries for resources and wealth

  • Capitalism has caused inequality to rise between core and periphery nations

  • Periphery nations may resort to unconventional means to meet their goals

Dealing with crime
Dealing with crime

  • Structural-functionalist- the justice system is important for maintaining order in society

  • Conflict- the criminal justice system presents crime as a threat from poor people and minorities and disproportionately arrests and sentences them

Prisons and jails
Prisons and jails

  • Total institution- completely controls the prisoners’ lives and regulates all of their activities

  • Degradation- mark the inmate as deviant

  • Mortification-break down the individual’s original self as the inmate experiences resocialization

  • Incarceration rates have increased

    • “Get tough on crime”

    • “War on drugs”

    • Preventative policies

The functions of prisons
The functions of prisons

  • Revenge or retribution

  • Removing dangerous individuals from society

  • Deterrence

  • Despite these, nearly 75% of male prisoners will re-offend (high recidivism)

Alternatives to prison
Alternatives to prison

  • Social capital - rebuild social networks, shared norms, values, and understanding that facilitate cooperation within or among groups and access to important resources

  • Shock probation - releasing a first time offender early in the hope that the shock of prison life would deter them

  • Day treatment or half-way houses

  • Restitution - The offender renders money or service to the victim or community under supervised parole to compensate the victim