Theory and Ethnomethodology
ideas drawn from Goode, 1994-2008
and Pfohl, Images of Deviance and Social Control, 1985. See the disclaimer)
Theoretical Perspective rooted in
- The Definition of the Situation.
- Verstehen (insiders view, Goode,
"On Behalf of Labeling Theory").
- Action is based on meaning, Meaning
is created through interaction, Meaning is continually modified and interpreted.
- Focus on the situational dynamics
out of which meaning emerges.
- The How rather than the Why.
- Negotiated reality.
- Not the act or the actor per se,
but what surrounds and follows.
- Social history of labels: In a
fluid and pluralistic society, who and what is considered deviant is constantly
- Construction and application of
labels: Moral Entrepreneurs, Official Agents of Control, and Organizational
- Consequences of Labeling.
George Herbert Mead (1934): "The
self as a social product."
Frank Tannenbaum (1938): differential
perspectives and "Tagging."
Edwin Lemert (1951): Primary and
- Secondary deviance as a dynamic,
interactional product; a response to societal reaction.
- Societal reaction initiates sociological/psychological
processes which sustain deviance, make it more central in the life of the
- Impact on self-concept.
- Begins moral "career."
- Leads to the formation of sub-culture
and learning processes.
- Power to resist the impact of
the label is differentially stratified throughout society. Impacts some groups
more than others.
- Lemert: "Paranoia and the
Dynamics of Exclusion"
- Many so labeled are the product
of strained interaction.
- Individual often properly realizes
- Distorted communication.
- Lack of feedback.
- Requires strong response==>
strain==> intensifies others perception==> further exclusion.......
- Audiences: Reiss--
the role of witnesses in police arrest decision making.
- Contingencies: Extra-behavioral
The Saints and the Roughnecks-- Social Class.
and Briar: Demeanor -only 2 of 45 deferential youths arrested vs. 14 of
- Derek Phillips:
Help seeking behavior and social distance.
- Visibility and Stigma (Master
- Problem of contagion
- Stickiness of labels
- Strained interaction
- "Being on"
- Impression management
- Sub-culture Formation: "Corporate
life" and Deviant Groups (Stanford Lyman distinquished
these goals; alienative and conformative, in his "The Asian in the West,"
1970, see Pfohl, 1985, page 316 for additional information)
- Alienative-instrumental (Queer
Nation, WITCH Women's International Terrorist Conspiracy
- Alienative-expressive (Moonies,
People's Temple--Jim Jones))
- Conformative-Expressive (AA,
- Sense of
Interpretation (past records, etc. ==>present reality)
- Would you hire
this guy? (schwartz and Skolnick in 1962, and Buikhuisen
and Dijksterhuis in 1971, see Liska, page 126-7)
Forms the foundation for understanding
how deviant labels are constructed as a "practical accomplishment"
in everyday interactions.
- Methods people use to accomplish
a reasonable account of what is happening in a social interaction, how we
make sense out of people and their actions. How we create a structure for
- By categorizing certain people
in certain situations as deviant, we assume (create) the reality of the norms
and they reflexively produce the deviant reality of the emerging situation.
common sense constructs through which we organize our perceptions
of others and the world.
Cicourel, "Good and Bad Boys"
- Good Boys- Act does not equal
a cue, good boy in bad situation, "normal" misbehavior.
- Bad Boy- Act is a cue, reveals
underlying problem, bad situation (home, school) produces bad boys, "serious"
problem that needs handling.
Rosenhahn: Being Sane in Insane
Phillips: Help Seeking Behavior
Sudnow: Normal Crimes
- Typification used by PD to
organize a variety of offenses of a given class into homogeneous categories
in order to efficiently process cases (plea bargain)
- PD's as overworked, understaffed,
part of a "Court Room Work Group."
- Premise: If arrested, then must
be guilty of something, therefore needs to be punished. Plea Bargain satisfies
- Rule of Economy: Once categorized,
we resist other interpretations of behavior.
- Rule of Consistency: Once categorized
we will organize past and future behavior in line with the new category (retrospective
- Peyrot (1995) and making the MMPI fit (see Liska, 1999,
Focus on Organizations
and Professional Interests
- Medical Examiners and Coroners
- Politics and vested interest
- Statistics as key to understanding
organization of social control rather than the "objective reality"
of deviant behavior.
- Statistics produced by organizations
become a topic of study in their own right.
Other organizational studies:
- Wilson: Police departments-
Large and bureaucratic vs. Small and informal.
- Index Crimes vs. White Collar
- Shoplifting/employee fraud
- Mental Disorder: Male vs. Female
- Breast feeding: Leleche vs DFS
- Decriminalize Victimless Crimes:
Avoid label, can't deal with them anyway, leads to police corruption, waste
of resources (money and time spent on more problematic offenses).
- Diversion: Not in order to punish,
but again; to avoid official label. Success of diversion is questionable,
but so is success of incarceration, and the costs of diversion programs is
- Organizational reform and restructuring.
Owner: Robert O. Keel firstname.lastname@example.org
Credits for this Page of Notes
Monday, March 10, 2008 1:26 PM