Deviance

Topics: Sociology, Criminology, Émile Durkheim Pages: 8 (1710 words) Published: September 23, 2014

The Objective/Subjective Dichotomy

Objectivism: Deviance as an Act
The assumption that there is something inherent in a person, behavior or characteristic that is necessarily deviant

Statistical Rarity
If a behavior or characteristic is not typical, it is deviant.

Harm
If an action causes harm, then it is deviant.

Folkways: If you violate these norms you may be considered odd, rude or a troublemaker Mores: Those standards that are often seen as the foundation of morality in a culture

Consensual view: The law is perceived as arising out of social consensus and is then equally applied to all Conflict view: Perceive the law as a tool used by the ruling class to serve its own interests. They believe that the law is more likely to be applied to members of the powerless classes in society. Interactionist view: Presents a nonconsensual view of criminal law. Society’s powerful define the law at the behest of interest groups, who appeal to those with power to rectify a perceived social ill.

Subjectivism: Deviance as a Label
Subjectivists say that we cannot recognize deviance when we see it; we have to be taught, through processes of socialization, that a person or behavior is deviant

Subjectivity and the “Social Construction” of Deviance
Social constructionism: Refers to the perspective proposing that social characteristics are creations or artifacts of a particular society at a specific time in history, just as objects Radical constructionists postulate a distinct theoretical perspective claiming that the world is characterized by endless relativism Sociologists who are soft or contextual constructionists emphasize the processes by which certain social phenomena come to be perceived and reacted to in particular ways in a given society at a specific time

Levels of Social Construction: Sociocultural, institutional, interactional, individual

Transcending the Objective/Subjective Dichotomy
On the objective side of the dualism, deviance specialists claim that there is a shared characteristic that all deviants have in common On the subjective side of the dualism, deviance specialists claim that there is no shared feature among deviance

Social typing process: Description, evaluation, prescription Theorizing Deviance
The scientific study of criminality is recognized as beginning with the work of Cesare Lombroso – who explained criminality on the basis of evolution - Suggested that criminals were atavists – evolutionary throwbacks whose biology prevented them from conforming to society’s rules Why people become deviant – Positivist theories

Social typing process – the process through which deviance and normality are socially constructed – Interpretive and critical theories

Why do People Become Deviant?
Using Positivist Theories
Interested in explaining why people act in particular ways
Positivist-sociologists seek cause-and-effect relationships in the form of statistical relationships Pursuit of planning for a better society
Positivist explanations of deviance also try to prevent other people from becoming deviant

Functionalist Theories: The Social Structure Creates Deviance In this perspective, society is seen as comprising various structures (e.g. the family) each of which fulfills necessary functions for social order Manifest functions: intended and recognized

Latent functions: unintentional and unrecognized
One of the core concerns in the functionalist perspective – the maintenance of the social order

Anomie Theory: The Problem of Too Much Social Change
Emile Durkheim addresses the notion of deviance in two ways: 1. A certain level of deviance is actually functional for society – serves a useful purpose – but only up to a certain point 2. Dysfunctional – deviance occurs when society changes too quickly and anomie emerges Functions of Deviance:

Deviance enhances social order and increases social solidarity because seeing someone break the rules leads us to...
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