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Date Created: 10/11/15
Chapter 6 Deviance and Crime As a culture39s norms and laws shift so too does its de nition of deviance I Deviance Deviance is a socially de ned construct and refers to any action belief or human characteristic that members of a society or a social group consider a violation of group norms for which the violator is likely to be censured or punished From a sociological perspective no act belief or human characteristic is inherently deviant because deviance is always socially de ned Thus if powerful groups want a form of behavior de ned as deviant it is likely to be de ned as such Powerful groups can also de ect deviant labels by resisting Deviance is always in uenced by power relationships Shifting De nitions of Deviance De nitions of deviant behavior change over time from one geographic location to another one culture to another and from one group to another As a culture39s norms and laws shift so too often does its de nition of deviance Global Flows and Deviance deviance can be seen as a global ow both people and de nitions of deviance ow easily from society to society Global trends toward normalizing that which was de ned at one time and in some places as deviant are clear and pronounced Figure 61 This is particularly the case with changes in the acceptability of various forms of sexuality Deviance and Consumption de nitions of what is deviant consumer behavior are frequently in dispute i The connection between deviance and consumption revolves rst around the use of goods and services that are illegal or considered deviant It involves committing deviant or illegal acts in order to be able to afford to consume and purchase items ii Poverty drives some to commit illegal deviant acts in order to be able consume items deemed necessary for survival iii De ning Deviant Consumption i De nitions of what is deviant consumer behavior are frequently in dispute Much of the debate about de nitions of what is deviant consumer behavior revolves around the fact that the deviant de nitions supported by laws are not consistently enforced Violators are rarely arrested and if they are their punishments are minor at the least There is some variance those that consume the quotwrongquot drugs are more likely to be considered deviant than those that consume the quotrightquot drug alcohol ii quotDangerous Consumersquot a Dangerous consumers refer to a population of individuals who rst do not consume enough This population includes the unemployed the poor dropouts those seek to simplify their lives and those who save rather than spend their money b This population poses a threat to consumer success their insuf cient consumption pose a threat to the success of consumer society and to an economy that had come to depend on high levels of consumption c More broadly consuming the wrong product is also identi ed as dangerous consumption secondhand merchandise receiving charity Similarly the use of public or welfare services can be viewed as a deviant form of consumption because it constitutes a drain on government monies and on the national economy d After the Great Recession 2008 those who came to be de ned as deviant or dangerous were those who consumed too much and who went too deeply into debt Those who consume too much and accumulated large amounts of debt were deemed deviant ll Theories of Deviance a StructuralFunctional Theories Structural functional theories beginning with Durkheim suggest that because deviance and crime are common in all societies they are quotnormalquot and serve positive functions for society and social structures Without periodic violations of standards of conduct those standards would become less clear to all concerned less strongly held and less powerful Deviance and crime are quotfunctionalquot because it de nes and clari es collective beliefs reaf rms norms and values and creates social solidarity among conforming people Deviance reaf rms cultural boundaries and is an identifying marker allowing us to identify those who are quotnormalquot from those deemed quotabnormalquot Strain i Strain theory Strain is said to occur when the culturally prescribed goals of a society are unattainable through legitimate means ie when the culture values one thing but the structure of society is such that not everyone can realize that value in a socially acceptable way When all people can39t achieve those culturally prescribed goals through culturally legitimate means strain occurs Strain theories are concerned with structures that provide the institutionalized means to cultural goals Second it deals with structural relationships between those goals and institutionalized means ii Many of the socially desired goals revolve around material items and successes The legitimate means to achieve the goals revolve around educational economic and occupational structures iii Adaptations to Strain a Robert Merton suggests that strain leads to the ways people relate to the institutionalized means needed to achieve cultural goals This meansends assessment revolves around economic success Some adaptations are highly functional conformity allows the social system to continue to exist without disturbance innovation is functional because innovations are often adaptations to social change rebellion is functional because sometimes radical change is necessary Ritualists and Retreatists can be seen as dysfunctional for society the unchanging behavior of Ritualists contributes noting to an everchanging society and Retreatists are uninvolved in the larger society b Merton identi ed 5 ways people adapt to strain a Conformists accept both cultural goals and the traditional means of achieving those goals b Innovators accept the cultural goals but reject the conventional means of achieving them c Ritualists realize they will not be able to achieve cultural goals but continue to engage in the conventional means to achieve them d Retreatists reject both cultural goals and the traditional means to achieve them e Rebels reject both cultural goals and the traditional means to achieve them but they substitute nontraditional goals and means to achieve those goals v Recent Developments in Strain Theory i Robert Agnew focus on what happens to those who experience strain Anger and frustration lead people to commit more deviant and even criminal acts He focused on the strain associated with the failure to achieve positively valued goals such as economic success added 2 other types of strain a The loss of something such as the termination of a romantic relationship b Experiencing an adverse situation such as living with an abusive parent or spouse ii Stephen Messner and Richard Rosenfeld macroscopic approach to strain where the concern is with the relationship among largescale structures On the one side are cultural and social structural pressures to succeed on the other are social institutions that are supposed to reduce these pressures If the latter institutions are weak or exert weak controls people are more likely to engage in deviant behavior to achieve succeed iii Social Control Social control theory Travis Hirschi focuses on the reasons why people do not commit deviant acts People are less likely to commit deviant acts if they have a variety of social bonds and more likely to commit such acts if those bonds are weak or absent Social control involves the structures of society families schools workplaces and the people who act on behalf of those structures The social control mechanisms are social in nature Social control is a way for a group or society to enforce conformity to its demands and expectations Rule creators are typically elite members of society who have the power to create societal rules norms and laws Rule enforcers enforce the rules Suggests there are two important factors of social control the degree of social control exercised over people and the stakes that people do or do not have in conforming iv Sampson and Laub expanded on Hirschi39s control theory to focus more on the formal aspects of social control while preserving the discussion of informal constraints They are interested in the interpersonal bonds that serve to control what people do and prevent them from engaging in deviance and crime They also deal with the relationship between control and deviance over the full course of peoples lives because informal social control also plays an important role in adulthood and in uencing whether or not adults engage in deviant and criminal behavior v Broken Windows Wilson and Kelling in public places people tend to be disturbed by a variety of dangerous forms of urban disorder This disorder is perceived to stem from a variety of types of people beyond muggers and other criminals such as panhandlers prostitutes loiterers the publicly intoxicated and other disturbing people The perception is that authority doesn39t care about order including the disorder of graf ti and broken windows and thus crime is allowed to ourish The goal then becomes making an area more orderly through formal social control vi SelfControl Gottfredson and Hirschi focus on the selfcontrol instilled in individuals those with low self control are more likely to engage in deviant and criminal acts Selfcontrol is instilled by parenting and those with low selfcontrol rather than being able to resist temptation are unlikely to resist and unlikely to be able to foresee the negative consequences of action on temptation b Con ictCritical Theories Structuralfunctionalists trace the source of deviance to the larger structures of society and the strains they produce or the fact that they do not exercise adequate social control over people Con ict and critical theories although they also focus on structures and their effects on people explain why those in power do not experience the same harsh sanctions for deviant behavior as those with less power Focus is on the inequality that exists in the larger structures of society and the impact that inequality has on individuals This perspective suggests inequality causes those with little power to engage in deviant behavior From the con ictcritical perspective the type of crimes committed are based on power i Those with power are more likely to commit corporate crimes due to their positions in corporations ii Those in power create laws and rules that de ne behaviors as deviant doing so to maintain their social standing and the status quo Deviance and the Poor C Some con ict theorists especially those in uenced by Marxist theory suggest deviance is created by a capitalist economic system Today39s de nitions of deviance serve the interests of the capitalists and they adversely affect the proletariat De nitions of deviance are created to serve the interests of the capitalists and adversely affect the poor It is because of the laws created by societal elites that the actions of the havenots are singled out for sanction iv Deviance and the Elite Great efforts are made to legitimize elite crimes and acts of elite deviance and failing that to pay little or no attention to them Because the elite or those in power create laws and de nitions of deviance there is a suggestion that elites get away with deviant and criminal behavior because they can hide the deviantcriminal act while performing job responsibilities Elites can also create scapegoats to blame for their deviantcriminal behavior lnteractionist Theories Focus is placed on the ways processes by in which people quotdoquot deviance a deviant is simply someone to whom a deviant label has been successfully applied The label can be accepted to some degree or efforts can be made to resist reject or shed the label a Labeling Theory at least 2 things are needed for deviance to occur Symbols or the labels created by those in power to identify deviants These labels are negative and can tarnish the public image of those receiving that label b The interaction between a person or group and the social control agents doing the labeling and the person or groups receiving the label Those who do the labeling are known as social control agents Primary and Secondary Deviance a Primary deviance involves early random acts of deviance that rarely if ever lead to the successful application of a deviant label b Secondary deviance or deviant acts that persist become more common and eventually cause people to organize their lives and personal identities around their deviant status iii Key ideas in the labeling process a Social control the process by which a group or society enforces conformity to its demands and expectations often through the creation and application of rules and labels b Rule creators usually elite members who devise rules norms and laws Usually distinct from rule enforcers agents of social control c Moral Entrepreneurs Moral entrepreneurs refers to individuals and or groups who come to de ne lead campaigns to have certain behaviors de ned as deviant and made illegal thus subjected to law enforcement a Moral entrepreneurs can cause moral panics which refers to widespread disproportionate exaggerated reactions to a form of deviant behavior that has been proposed as a threat by moral entrepreneurs iv Stigma focus is on the symbolic nature of the stigma and the interaction with others especially those deemed quotnormalquot A stigma is a term coined by Erving Goffman used to refer to a characteristic that has been de ned or labeled as unusual unpleasant or deviant a Discredited stigma refers to differences readily visible or evident symbolic nature of stigma is visible b Discreditable stigma refers to differences not immediately recognizable or unknown to the public meaning that symbolic nature of stigma is not visible Passing deliberately hiding an identity or characteristic that could be discrediting
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