Deviance and Social Control

“The criminal commits the crime, society creates the criminal.” “...crime is normal because a society exempt from it is utterly impossible.”
Intro to Sociology University of San Francisco April 1, 2008

Concepts to cover...
relativity of deviance normative behavior Emile Durkheim, collective conscience, structural strain anomie and egoism

Robert Merton and anomie responses to anomie (conformity, innovation, ritualism, retreatism, rebellion) Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin differential opportunities to deviate Howard Becker deviance as learned behavior

societal reaction/labeling theory primary and secondary deviance Erving Goffman, stigma discreditable vs discredited identity functions of deviance

Relativity of Deviance

If norms vary across cultures and subcultures, and across time and place; Then what is considered deviant must also vary

Normative Behavior

Any behavior that adheres to a society’s implicit or explicit expectations for behavior Deviance is typically understood as behavior that “deviates” from normative behavior

Durkheim and Deviance
Collective conscience and structural strain Too little integration leads to egoism Too much integration leads to altruism Too little regulation leads to anomie Too much regulation leads to fatalism

Merton and Anomie
Anomie results when society does not provide legitimate means for achieving its goals; Individuals respond in one of four ways:
accept the goals and the means (conformity) accept the goals and reject the means (innovation) reject the goals and accept the means (ritualism) reject the goals and reject the means (retreatism) reject both goals and means and advocate for new ones (rebellion)

Cloward and Ohlin: Differential Opportunities
Merton’s Theory makes sense, except that the opportunities to deviate (e.g., innovate), vary depending on one’s statuses and roles Access to desirable resources varies Access to tools for acquiring resources varies Prison socializes criminals (e.g., gives them new tools for committing crimes)

Becker: Deviance as Learned Behavior
Deviance as socialization into an alternative set of norms first one must learn the deviant behavior (technique) second one learns to perceive the effects (for Becker, the “high”) third one learns to enjoy the effects Parents are concerned about their children’s peer groups because that is where kids learn to be deviant.

Labeling Theory
“deviance” is in the response of the audience Once labeled deviant (primary deviance)... a person may act in, or be perceived to be acting in, other deviant ways in an attempt to shed the deviant label (secondary deviance)

Goffman and Stigma
A deviant label is a stigma Stigmas create discredited identities; so people try to hide their stigmas, when possible, in order to keep their discreditable identity from becoming discredited

The Functions of Deviance

Deviance reminds people of society’s norms Deviance is how social change happens (e.g., women refusing to accept gender norms)

“The criminal commits the crime, society creates the criminal.”
Deviance is not a property inherent in certain forms of behavior; it is a property conferred upon these forms by the audiences which directly or indirectly witness them. The critical variable in the study of deviance, then, is the social audience rather than the individual actor, since it is the audience which eventually determines whether or not any episode or behavior or class of episodes is labeled deviant. (Kai T. Erikson, “Notes on the Sociology of Deviance,” in H. Becker (ed.), The Other Side: Perspectives on Deviance, 1964).

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