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Deviance

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Eric Davis

on 12 July 2016

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Transcript of Deviance

Deviance
Deviance is...
...
behavior
(how people act),
ideas

(how people think), or
attributes

(how people appear) that some people in society—though not necessarily all people—find offensive, wrong, immoral, sinful, evil, strange, or disgusting.
Social Control
Social Control
: Techniques and strategies for preventing deviant human behavior in any society
Sanction
: Penalty or reward for conduct concerning a social norm
Society partly defined by people’s willingness to accept shared beliefs and practices
Society can limit individual freedom and advance interests of some at expense of others
Theoretical Perspectives:
Functionalism
Functions of deviance:
affirms cultural values and norms
reaction to deviance clarifies moral boundaries and promotes social unity
deviance encourages social change
Theoretical Perspectives:
Symbolic Interactionism
Differential association theory
: people learn deviant patterns of behavior from people with whom they associate on a regular basis: friends, family members, peers.
Deterrence theory
: concentrates on identify-ing the most effective punishment to prevent deviance. Assumes people are rational decision makers.
Social Order and Deviance
Durkheim’s Theory of Deviance
Nothing inherently deviant or criminal in any act
Society identifies criminals for the sake of social order
Anomie
State of normlessness that typically occurs during a period of profound social change and disorder
When social integration is weak, people freer to pursue deviant paths
Deviance and crime actually can have positive impact on society
Merton's Strain Theory

Strain theory
argues that people trying to attain culturally approved goals may pursue illegitimate means to reach said goal if they are unable to do so through conventional means

Cultural Goals
: anything that is desirable in society
(e.g. being rich, being a good parent, winning awards, etc.)

Conventional Means
: the socially appropriate path to achieving a cultural goal (e.g. if your goal is to get rich, then going to college and working hard is the conventional means).
Perspectives on Deviance
Absolutism
: Approach to defining deviance that rests on the assumption that all human behavior can be considered either inherently good or inherently bad

Attribute or behavior that defines person as “deviant” is considered pervasive and essential part of his or her character.

Oversimplified view can result in harsher treatment of those considered marred by deviant trait, compared to someone considered “respectable.”
Perspectives on Deviance
Relativism
: Approach to defining deviance that rests on the assumption that deviance is socially created by collective human judgments and ideas

The same act committed at different times, or under different circumstances can be considered deviant or not.

What is considered deviant changes based on the time and place, and across history and cultures.
Deviance
There are 3 steps for an act to be deviant:
1. some behavioral expectation is held
2. violation of the normative behavioral expectation
3. societal reaction to the deviance
Deviance: Behavior that violates standards of conduct or expectations of a group or society
Deviance depends on context
Individuals and groups with greatest status and power define what is deviant
Informal Social Control
: Social control carried out casually by ordinary people through such means as laughter, smiles, and ridicule
Formal Social Control
: Social control carried out by authorized agents, such as police officers, judges, school administrators, and employers
Strain Theory
Theoretical Perspectives:
Conflict Theory
Definition of and response to deviance is often a form of social control exerted by more powerful groups.

Who or what is labeled depends on power of groups and individuals

Labeling Theory
: States that deviance is the consequence of the application of rules and sanctions to an offender; a “deviant” is individual who has been successfully labeled as such

One benefit of having power = ability to resist label.
Criminalization of Deviance
The actions of poor individuals are more likely to be criminalized - that is officially defined as crimes.
When politicians say they are going to get “tough on crime,” they are typically referring to street crime
Burglary and robbery cost the United States $4-5 billion/year.

The total cost of white collar crimes like corporate fraud, bribery, embezzlement, insurance fraud, and securities fraud amounts to perhaps as much as $500 billion a year.
The "war" on drugs...What is legal? Illegal? Who benefits?
Behavior defined as a medical problem 
or illness that needs to be treated 
(i.e. hyperactivity or depression).
This approach focuses on individual problem rather than social problem.
Removes social scrutiny of societal level problems as we rely on experts to “treat” or “fix” the deviant individual
Medicalization of Deviance
Full transcript