Deviancy Defined

Topics: Sociology, Deviance, Social philosophy Pages: 2 (463 words) Published: July 30, 2010

“Men are born soft and supple; dead, they are stiff and hard. Plats are born tender and pliant; dead, they are brittle and dry. Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail.” TAO TE CHING

Moynihan measures the increased level of deviance through three major categories that he feels are responsible for the change in defining deviance. Altruistic (deinstitutionalization), opportunistic (alternative family structures), and normalizing (growing acceptance of crime) are Moynihan's examples of how American society has "increased beyond the levels the community can ‘afford to recognize'."

Andrew Karmen feels as though Moynihan's expression holds some truth, but that "Defining Deviance Down" ignores and overlooks many examples that do not fit into his theory. Karmen does not completely disagree with Moynihan's analysis, but adds another perspective that he feels is essential while addressing the topic of American behavior. Karmen measures the decreased level of deviance through numerous examples of behaviors that used to be disregarded, but are now reason for punishment.

Krauthammer seems to agree with Moynihan to the degree that defining deviancy down has taken place over the past 30 years or so. However Krauthammer, is also able to recognize that defining deviancy up has taken place. As is noted in the following excerpt from Krauthammer:

“ As part of the vast social project of moral leveling, it is not enough for the deviant to be normalized. The normal must be found to be deviant. Therefore, while for the criminals and the crazies deviancy has been defined down (the bar defining normality has been lowered), for the ordinary bourgeois deviancy has been defined up (the bar defining normality has been raised). Large areas of ordinary behavior hitherto considered benign have had their...
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