4th-8th, 1994-2008 chapters 2 and 3. See the disclaimer)
Essentialism: phenomena have distinct
and consistent essences. True, real, objective and universal.
are social vs. natural.
- Change, variation based on perspective
and interests of the observer.
- Definitions do not equal absolute
reality. Categories have meaning only within the context of the criteria of
the classification scheme that has been socially constructed.
- Moderate Constructionism--there
are limits. Categories have elements of arbitrariness and are fuzzy, but they
are based on something "objective." i.e. define "alcoholic"
Approaches to Deviance
units of analysis for examining phenomena
1. Macro-Level - (big,
- Macro-Level theorists
look at society through broad lenses, to see the "big picture".
- Macro-Level theorists look at
how large-scale structural conditions, i.e. economic and political institutions,
structure the patterns and significance of daily life for people in a
given social system.
Marx is a macro-level theorist because he studied the larger
structural units, economic systems, to understand how economic structures
influence behavior and belief in other social structures, and across different
types of societies.
- See also: Durkheim-Anomie.
2. Micro-Level - (small,
face-to- face interactions)
- Micro-Level theorists focuses
on individual processes such as face-to-face encounters people have.
- All "types of person" theories
are Micro-Level theories. See: Labeling
Definitions of Deviance
Problematic, yet "taken-for-granted"
pure essentialism. Certain behaviors, identities, and modes of thought are
"naturally" deviant; everywhere, and across time. Deviance is conceptualized
as an objectively real characteristic found in "things," and can
be located and studied through a positivist approach.
but not sufficient. The idea here is that those
behaviors, identities, and modes of
thought which rarely occur
are deviant (based on the statistical conception of the "normal curve").
but not sufficient. Are all harmful behaviors and thoughts deviant? Are there
forms of deviance that aren't harmful?
but not sufficient. Are there criminal acts that wouldn't be defined as deviant?
Are there forms of deviance that are criminal?
- Positive Deviance?
This is an extrapolation of the statistical definition, and shares elements
of the "harm" criteria. If we use the idea that deviance entails
a negative reaction, and consequences for the deviant, then is positive deviance
a useful concept?
Useful, Sociological Definitions
Normative: essentialism, but relativity
- Deviance equals norm violation.
Norms do vary.
- Assumes--objective reality of
norms, they exist "out there" and have a force over us (socialization
- Assumes--Consensus within a given
- Assumes--smooth operation and
uniform application of norms
- Problems: exceptions and contingencies
Reactive: constructionism and relativity
- Deviance equals a judgment, application
of a sanction, entails consequences.
- Defining norm violation as a social
- Not the act per se, not simple
norm violation, but specific individuals engaged in specific acts seen by
specific others--and condemnation.
- Problems--secret deviance, i.e.
is there some consensus?==>Discredited vs. Discreditable, predictability
to social responses==>. Also, need to take the Victim
"Soft" (modified) Reactive
- Norms as inference; their existence
is gleaned from social response.
- Societal versus Situational
- Process: Negotiated Reality
So, We need to focus
- Deviant to whom?
- Dominant Moral Codes
- How many consider it deviant?
- Intensity of response
- Actor: who is it, status
- Audience: Actor, Victim,
Peers, Subculture, Official Agents of Social Control, Wider Society, Other
Societies, Historical Societies.
- Situation: Temporal and Spatial
Who and what we define as deviance
is not simply based on some intrinsic characteristic of an act or an actor. It
is, in part, always influences by the social context.
- "A contingency is a seemingly
incidental or accidental feature of an event or a phenomenon that nonetheless
exerts a significant impact; it is anything that logically shouldn't
influence the labeling process, but actually does. i.e. the distance one lives
from a mental hospital." (Goode, 1997, page 111)
- The issues of relativity (above)
all exert influence (and variation) on who is considered deviant for doing
(or being) whatever it may be that they do (or are)
- Ancillary or Auxiliary Characteristics:
power and status, age, sex, race, appearance, and socioeconomic status. The
relative degree of prestige and power associated with these characteristics
influence who and what we define as deviant.
"In sum, by deviance I mean
one thing and one thing only: behavior or characteristics that some people
in a society find offensive or reprehensible and that generates--or would
generate if discovered--in these people disapproval, punishment, condemnation
of, or hostility toward, the actor or possessor....What we have to know is,
deviant to whom?" (Goode, 1994, page 29)
Deviance is a label attached
to people and acts
Deviance entails a type
of social relationship
Deviance is a non-evaluative
Nuts, Sluts and Preverts
("The Poverty of
the Sociology of Deviance: Nuts, Sluts, and Preverts," Liazos, 1972, in
Pontell, 1996; and discussed by Goode, 1994, chapter 2)
- Acts vs process
- Biased Sample?
- Theory and Politics (atheoretical
- Question of "True Deviance?"
- Too reprehensible ( and those
who study are too.)
- Same, but different
- Crime==>defined through a political
process at the level of the
state (political authority for a given social system)
- Split in sociology
- Eastern==> Crime and it's
- Radical==> Creation
- Western==> "Soft Deviance"
Deviance and Social
- Same, but different
- Objectivist versus constructionist
- Difference between objective
and subjective concerns
- Time and changing perceptions
- Claims making activity==>Politics
Politics and Deviance
- Definitions of what is deviant
are not ready made, they are fought over.
- Categories, groups, or strata
fight through social movement organizations to institutionalize their
own views of right and wrong into the criminal and civil law, the media,
the school, the political process and religion.
- If a group is successful,
it informs members of the society that their interpretation is valid and legitimate.
Thus, actors who deviate should be stigmatized or criminalized.
- Anti-abortion or "right-to-life"
- Women Against Pornography
- Members of the Creationist movement
- Animal Rights groups
Society and Social definitions
are eternally changing, dynamic affairs. Origins of ideas, definitions, meanings
must be critically examined.
- Grassroots movements versus Interest
- Generalized concerns and ambivalence==>grounds
for conflict, and negotiation.
- Legal Status of Marijuana:
Up and Downs- Role of Moral Entrepreneurs, Current Grass Roots Movement-
- Teenage Sex: Historically-
"The thing to do!" Now==> The Social Problem. Love vs Promiscuity.
- Abortion: Political struggle
to define Deviance. Openness to Definitional Change: Morality, Medicine,
Power and Social Roles.
- Ambiguity of issue: necessary
evil ==> Battleground of ideological warfare.
- Can be anything, anywhere, anyone.
- More likely some than others
- Not just Nuts and Sluts, but does
- Permeates all aspects of Social
- Some predictability
- Change is a reality.
- Reality is structured out of
our definitions and interpretations.
- Definitions of Deviance come
from a variety of Sources.
- The study of deviance entails
developing an understanding of the processes of change and developing an awareness
of how definitions of reality are negotiated in everyday life situations.
Owner: Robert O. Keel email@example.com
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