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Deviance. What is it?. Behavior that departs from societal or group norms Ranges from criminal behavior to wearing heavy make-up Deviance is a matter of social definition and can vary from group to group and society to society. 2 types. Negative deviance

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What is it
What is it?

  • Behavior that departs from societal or group norms

  • Ranges from criminal behavior to wearing heavy make-up

  • Deviance is a matter of social definition and can vary from group to group and society to society

2 types
2 types

  • Negative deviance

    • Involves behavior that fails to meet accepted norms

  • Positive deviance

    • Involves over conformity to norms leading to imbalance and extremes of perfectionism

      • anorexia

Who is a deviant
Who is a deviant?

  • Someone who has violated one or more of society’s most highly valued norms

Social control
Social Control

  • All societies have ways to promote order, stability, and predictability in social life

  • Def: ways to promote conformity to norms

  • If it were absent, there would be chaos

  • 2 types:

    • Internal

    • external

Internal social control
Internal Social Control

  • Lies within the individual

  • Developed during the socialization process

  • When you know its wrong to steal, you have internalized this social norm

External social control
External Social Control

  • Socialization does not ensure that all people will conform to social norms

  • External social control is based on social sanctions

    • Rewards and punishments

  • Negative sanctions

    • Intended to stop socially unacceptable behavior

    • Criticism, fines and imprisonment

  • Positive sanctions

    • Encourage conformity

    • Allowances, promotions and smiles of approval

Functionalism and deviance
Functionalism and Deviance

  • Functionalists believe that some deviance can contribute to the smooth operation of society

  • Deviance has both positive and negative consequences for society

Negative effects
Negative Effects

  • Erodes trust

  • A society with widespread suspicion and distrust cannot function smoothly

  • If not punished or corrected, deviance can also cause nonconforming behavior in others

  • Stimulates more deviance in others

  • Expensive both in human resources and monetary resources

Positive effects
Positive Effects

  • Clarifies norms by exercising social control to defend its values

  • Temporary safety valve

  • Increases unity within a society or group

  • Strengthens their commitment to that value

  • Promotes needed social change

Strain theory
Strain Theory

  • Deviance is more likely to occur when a gap exists between cultural goals and the ability to achieve these goals by legitimate means

  • Anomie social condition in which norms are weak, conflicting or absent

  • Conformity- when people accept the goal and the means to achieve it

4 responses to strain considered deviant
4 responses to Strain considered deviant

  • Innovation

    • Accepts the goal of success but uses illegal means to achieve it

  • Ritualism

    • Rejects the goal (success) but continues to use the legitimate means

  • Retreatism

    • Deviant response in which both the legitimate means and approved goals are rejected

  • Rebellion

    • People reject both success and the approved means for achieving it

Control theory
Control Theory

  • Conformity to social norms depends on the presence of strong bonds between individuals and society

  • If the bonds are weak (anomie) deviance occurs

  • Social bonds control the behavior of people

4 basic elements of social bonds
4 basic elements of social bonds

  • Attachment

    • The stronger your attachment to groups or individuals, the more likely you are to conform

  • Commitment

    • The greater your commitment to social goals, the more likely you are to conform

  • Involvement

    • Participation in approved social activities increase the probability of conformity

  • Belief

    • Belief in the norms and values promotes conformity

Symbolic interactionism
Symbolic Interactionism

  • Deviance is transmitted through socialization in the same way that non-deviant behavior is learned

Differential association theory
Differential Association Theory

  • Emphasizes the role of primary groups in transmitting deviance

  • i.e., the more people one is exposed to who break the law, the more apt they are to be criminals

3 characteristics
3 characteristics

  • The ratio of deviant to non-deviant individuals

  • Whether the deviant behavior is practiced by significant others

  • The age of exposure

Labeling theory
Labeling Theory

  • Theory that society creates deviance by identifying particular members as deviant

    **Deviant behavior is always a matter of social definition

  • Exists when some members of a group or society label others as deviants

    ** girls receive more stigma to teen pregnancy than boys

    ** lower-class youths are “expected” to be criminals while middle class youths are not

Degrees of deviance
Degrees of Deviance?

  • 2 types

    • Primary deviance

      • Person engages only in isolated acts of deviance

    • Secondary deviance

      • Deviance as a lifestyle and a personal identity

        **Person’s who life and identity are organized around deviance

      • This status overshadows all other status’

Consequences of labeling
Consequences of Labeling

  • Can cause pain and suffering

  • Stigma- undesirable characteristic or label used by others

Conflict theory and deviance
Conflict Theory and Deviance

  • Deviance in an industrial society is behavior that those in control see as threatening to their interests

  • Supporters of this theory believe that minorities receive unequal treatment in the American criminal justice system

Why are minorities whites treated differently
Why are minorities & whites treated differently?

  • Minorities generally do not have the economic resources to buy good legal services

  • Crimes against whites tend to be punished more severely than crimes against minorities

  • Victim discounting reduces the seriousness of crimes directed at members of lower social classes

  • Therefore, if the victim is less valuable, the crime is less serious and the penalty less severe

White collar crime
White Collar Crime

  • Any crime committed by respectable and high status people in the course of their occupations

  • Economic crimes

    ** price fixing, insider trading, illegal rebates, embezzlement, bribery of a corporate customer, manufacture of hazardous products, toxic pollution and tax evasion

Costs of white collar crime
Costs of white collar crime

  • 18x higher than street crime

  • That being said, white collar criminals are treated more leniently than other criminals

  • Convicted white collar criminals are less likely to be imprisoned


  • Acts in violation of statue law

  • ** 2,800 acts are classified as federal crimes and many more violate state and local statutes

  • FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports is a major source of crime stats

    • This is voluntary

      **UCS tracks 9 types of crimes: murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson and hate crimes

How reliable are the stats
How reliable are the stats?

  • Major strength: reporting system of experienced police officers

  • Major limitations:

    • See page 226

  • Another source: NCVS (National Crime Victimization Survey

  • 2 advantages:

    • Helps make up for underreporting of crime

    • Surveys are more scientifically sound

Juvenile crime
Juvenile Crime

  • Juvenile delinquent behavior includes deviance that only the young can commit

    • i.e., failing to attend school, underage drinking and smoking

  • Reached its lowest level in 1999

  • why?

    • Decline in the demand for crack cocaine

    • Crack gangs that provided guns to juv. have reached truces

    • Repeat violent juv. Offenders have been given stiffer sentences

    • Police are cracking down on illegal guns on the street

Criminal justice system
Criminal Justice System

  • Made up of the institutions and processes responsible for enforcing criminal statues

    *includes police, courts and correctional system

  • Draws on4 approaches to control and punish lawbreakers:

    • Deterrence

    • Retribution

    • Incarceration

    • Rehabilitation


  • Uses the threat of punishment to discourage criminal actions

  • Does work if potential lawbreakers know 2 things

    • They are likely to get caught

    • Punishment will be severe

  • This is difficult in the US so punishment does not have the deterrent effect it could have

Death penalty
**Death Penalty??

  • 66% of all Americans favor the death penalty

  • ¾ of all white Americans favor the death penalty

  • 40% of black Americans favor the death penalty

  • 52% of hispanic Americans favor the death penalty


  • Type of punishment intended to make criminals pay compensation for their acts

    • Eye for an eye


  • Keeping criminals in prisons


  • Attempt to re-socialize criminals

  • 30-60% of those released from prisons are sent back in 2-5 years

  • Recidivism- repetition of or return to criminal behavior

Alternatives to prisons
Alternatives to prisons

  • Combination of prison and probation

    • Serve part of their sentence in prison and the rest on probation

  • Community based programs

    • Reintroduce criminals into society

    • *get out of prison for part of the day

  • Diversion strategy

    • Aimed at preventing or reducing the offender’s involvement in the criminal justice system

    • Community based treatment program rather than a prison or probationary program

Do they work
**Do they work?

  • They haven’t been evaluated enough to evaluate their effectiveness