7.1 Deviance and Control

Deviance is a violation of norms. Whether or not something is deviant depends on contextual definitions, the situation, and people s response to the behavior. Society seeks to limit deviance through the use of sanctions that help maintain a system of social control.

7.2 Theoretical Perspectives on Deviance

The three major sociological paradigms offer different explanations for the motivation behind deviance and crime. Functionalists point out that deviance is a social necessity since it reinforces norms by reminding people of the consequences of violating them. Violating norms can open society s eyes to injustice in the system. Conflict theorists argue that crime stems from a system of inequality that keeps those with power at the top and those without power at the bottom. Symbolic interactionists focus attention on the socially constructed nature of the labels related to deviance. Crime and deviance are learned from the environment and enforced or discouraged by those around us.

7.3 Crime and the Law

Crime is established by legal codes and upheld by the criminal justice system. In the United States, there are three branches of the justice system: police, courts, and corrections. Although crime rates increased throughout most of the twentieth century, they are now dropping.

Section 7.1  Deviance and Control

  • deviance: a violation of contextual, cultural, or social norms
  • social control: the regulation and enforcement of norms
  • social order: an arrangement of practices and behaviors on which society's members base their daily lives
  • sanctions: the means of enforcing rules
  • positive sanctions: rewards given for conforming to norms
  • negative sanctions: punishments for violating norms
  • informal sanctions: sanctions that occur in face-to-face interactions
  • formal sanctions: sanctions that are officially recognized and enforced

Section 7.2  Theoretical Perspectives on Deviance

  • strain theory: a theory that addresses the relationship between having socially acceptable goals and having socially acceptable means to reach those goals
  • social disorganization theory: a theory that asserts crime occurs in communities with weak social ties and the absence of social control
  • cultural deviance theory: a theory that suggests conformity to the prevailing cultural norms of lower-class society causes crime
  • conflict theory: a theory that examines social and economic factors as the causes of criminal deviance
  • power elite: a small group of wealthy and influential people at the top of society who hold the power and resources
  • labeling theory: the ascribing of a deviant behavior to another person by members of society
  • primary deviance: a violation of norms that does not result in any long-term effects on the individual's self-image or interactions with others
  • secondary deviance: deviance that occurs when a person's self-concept and behavior begin to change after his or her actions are labeled as deviant by members of society
  • master status: a label that describes the chief characteristic of an individual
  • differential association theory: a theory that states individuals learn deviant behavior from those close to them who provide models of and opportunities for deviance
  • control theory: a theory that states social control is directly affected by the strength of social bonds and that deviance results from a feeling of disconnection from society

Section 7.3  Crime and the Law

  • crime: a behavior that violates official law and is punishable through formal sanctions
  • legal codes: codes that maintain formal social control through laws
  • violent crimes: crimes based on the use of force or the threat of force
  • nonviolent crimes: crimes that involve the destruction or theft of property, but do not use force or the threat of force
  • street crime: crime committed by average people against other people or organizations, usually in public spaces
  • corporate crime: crime committed by white-collar workers in a business environment
  • victimless crime: activities against the law, but that do not result in injury to any individual other than the person who engages in them
  • hate crimes: attacks based on a person's race, religion, or other characteristics
  • self-report study: a collection of data acquired using voluntary response methods, such as questionnaires or telephone interviews
  • criminal justice system: an organization that exists to enforce a legal code
  • police: a civil force in charge of regulating laws and public order at a federal, state, or community level
  • court: a system that has the authority to make decisions based on law
  • corrections system: the system tasked with supervising individuals who have been arrested for, convicted of, or sentenced for criminal offenses

Section 7.1 Deviance and Control

Social Control

Section 7.2 Theoretical Perspectives on Deviance

 Émile Durkheim: The Essential Nature of Deviance
 Robert Merton: Strain Theory
 Social Disorganization Theory
 Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay: Cultural Deviance Theory
Conflict Theory
 Karl Marx: An Unequal System
 C. Wright Mills: The Power Elite
 Crime and Social Class
Symbolic Interactionism
 Labeling Theory
 Edwin Sutherland: Differential Association
 Travis Hirschi: Control Theory

Section 7.3 Crime and the Law

Types of Crimes
Crime Statistics
Public Perception of Crime
The U.S. Criminal Justice System

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