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Conformity and Deviance What is deviance? Theories of deviance.

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Presentation on theme: "Conformity and Deviance What is deviance? Theories of deviance."— Presentation transcript:


2 Conformity and Deviance What is deviance? Theories of deviance

3 What is deviance? “nonconformity to a given set of norms that are accepted by a significant number of people in a community or society” (p. 133)

4 What is deviance? Everyone violates norms. So who is deviant? “significant” is the key word; deviants are significantly in violation of norms

5 What is deviance? If deviance too widespread, some might be “normalized” Groups that significantly violate norms of the wider society: deviant subcultures

6 Theories of deviance Biological Psychological Sociological

7 Biological theories Attempts to link physical traits with behavior go back to 19 th century (Lombroso) Mid-20 th century theories linking physique with crime also discredited Ongoing attempts to find sources of criminal (esp. “psychopathic”) behavior in brain structure, but no evidence of genetic basis for deviance

8 Psychological theories Psychopaths : withdrawn, emotionless, violent These traits not restricted to criminals Social response to the behavior just as important as the individual’s psychology; reciprocal effects

9 Social control Social control : social methods used to keep behavior within bounds Sanctions : positive or negative, formal or informal reactions to behavior used to reinforce social norms Ideally, people internalize norms through interaction with others (socialization) Laws are the basis for external social control by the State This tends to reinforce power of elites, according to “conflict” theorists But even subcultures have their own norms; e.g., the code of the street “a cultural adaptation to a profound lack of faith in the police and the judicial system…” (Anderson, 34) “The code of the street thus emerges where the influence of the police ends and where personal responsibility for one’s own safety is felt to begin.” (ibid)

10 Sociological theories Durkheim Merton Differential association Labeling Social control theory

11 Durkheim: why is crime “normal”? A certain level of deviance is functional Allows for innovation (adaptive function) Promotes boundary maintenance Helps us recognize what is normal (affirms norms;) Enhances social solidarity Therefore we can’t (or shouldn’t) completely eliminate deviance Too much deviance, widespread acceptance is “pathological”; anomie ( dysfunctional)

12 Durkheim and deviance society norms XXX Normal people Y deviant Norms affirmed; social solidarity enhanced.

13 Merton: structural strain theory Socially approved goals (values) Socially approved means (norms) Unequal access creates “structural strain” Individuals experiencing structural strain must choose a “mode of adaptation” to the resulting anomie.

14 Merton: structural strain theory – modes of adaptation Accept socially approved goals? Accept socially approved means? Conformity++ Innovation+- Ritualism-+ Retreatism-- Rebellion-/+

15 Sutherland: differential association Criminal (deviant) behavior is learned in primary groups where norms differ from those of wider society Similar to Becker’s (1953) work on marijuana use, but Becker’s later (1963) study developed labeling theory (Giddens:140)

16 Differential association Dominant culture social norms Deviant subculture social norms X

17 Becker: labeling theory One learns how to smoke dope through a subculture Deviance is a process of interaction between deviants and nondeviants (Giddens, 140) Social structure gives some people the power to define others as deviant ; e.g., “potheads” The label is a stigma ; a mark of social disgrace that changes social interaction and self image

18 Lemert: labeling theory Primary deviation: an initial act that violates social norms Secondary deviation: the individual comes to accept the label, and acts accordingly

19 Labeling theory Powerful interests Label Primary deviation Label accepted Secondary deviation

20 Control theory (new criminology) Evidence that many crimes are situational, based on opportunity; This results in “target hardening” in richer areas Poorer sections left with more crime Broken windows theory

21 Macro-to-micro: Saints and Roughnecks Class structure affects how deviance is handled Similar behavior results in different outcomes “saints” and “roughnecks” were labels Labeling theory most widely used in sociology

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