Crime, Deviance, and Social Control
Chapter 16
Troy Duster and Jeff Manza
What is deviance?
How is morality defined and regulated?
Who defines deviance?
How is social control imposed on society?
What is deviance?
Deviance and the Group
Establishing group boundaries
• Social group membership
• All cultures impose rules on young
• First lesson about futility of rebellion
Establishing Group Boundaries: Affirmation
• Infinite variety of markings, behaviors, and
attributes that signal who is in and who is out
• Symbolic boundaries
• That which people are not allowed to do if
group membership is to be retained
• May be explicit or implicit
Establishing Group Boundaries: Laws
• Hammurabi code (~1780 BCE)
– Retributive justice
• Beccaria (1764)
– How and why justice is meted out
Statistical versus Social Deviance
Stop and think!
Take a moment to think of ways in which you
have observed statistical and social
Why is the distinction between these two
concepts important?
Social Norms
• Reveal unstated, unwritten, and non-articulated
rules of everyday life
• Tell much about nature and character of society
– Rules of engagement
– Rules of personal space
How is morality defined and regulated?
The Problem of Moral Regulation
Moral behavior
• Types of behaviors considered good and right
Immoral behavior
• Types of behaviors considered bad and wrong
The Problem of Moral Regulation
Interested punishment
• Related to strong and direct interest in
maintaining wealth and their political domination
Disinterested punishment
• Related to control of morals and social
The Temperance Movement as Moral Crusade
Prohibition (1920 -1933)
• Prohibition of alcohol was crusade to reestablish upper
middle class traditional values
• Immigrants became public face of alcohol excess
• Most influential advocates were wives from upper-class
• WCTU provided instructional materials and legislative
Campaign against Opium
Opium, morphine, and heroin
• No U.S. regulation until 1914
• Webb v. U.S. (1916) ruled prescriptions must be
individually prescribed
What Do You Think?
Just when the pressure to end Prohibition peaked
in the early 1930s, laws would emerge to
demonize what had previously been normal opiate
Why did the authors of your text book consider this
one of the least appreciated ironies of American
Contemporary Moral Crusades
Attempt to regulate morality remains very
much a part of contemporary American society
• War on drugs
– Reagan (1985)
– Criminalization of drugs since 1980s became way of
policing poor neighborhoods and communities
• Crusades against homosexuality
– Stonewall Inn (1969)
– Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003) overturned
1985 ruling on antigay laws
Who defines deviance?
Deviance, Crime, and Power
Labeling theory of deviance
• Process by which behavior is defined is critical to
understanding what causes it
• Many kinds of behaviors are deviant solely because
they are so labeled
Becker (1963)
• Deviance is social construction that evolves over
• Understanding deviance involves looking at why and
how certain behaviors and people get labeled and at
behaviors of labeled people
Deviance, Crime, and Power
Sutherland (1949): White-collar crime
• Unethical business practices committed by
people in course of their work lives
• Often creates damage equal to other kinds of
crimes; should be treated same way
• Some controversy about treatment
Deviance, Crime, and Power
The Enron scandal
• Involved creating false profits, manipulating energy
prices in California, defrauding stockholders
U.S. banking and financial crisis
• Destabilized banking industry
• Made subprime loans that resulted in massive mortgage
Who Should Be Punished More Severely?
Countrywide Financial Corporation CEO
Angelo Mozilo
low-level drug offender
• Two critical points
– What kinds of deviant behavior get punished, and
how strong the punishment, is linked in part to who
the perpetrator is
– What counts as a punishable crime is in large part
shaped by overall distribution of power
Deviance, Crime, and Power
State deviance, terrorism, and war crimes
• State deviance
– Policy and actions carried out by government officials
in their official capacities
• Terrorism
– Use of violence to achieve some political objective
– “Theater of war”
– Legitimate strategies
– Guerilla warfare
Emergence of Terrorism in Contemporary World
• From battlefield
• To strategic ploys of generals to avoid
• To guerilla warfare
• To terrorism
Stop and Think!
Why is it terrorism when Al Qaeda kills Americans
but not terrorism when the U.S. government
engages in actions such as these?
How is social control maintained?
Institutions of Social Control
• Punishments that groups and societies establish to
enforce norms
Formal sanctions
• Used to enforce norms that are written into law, and are
usually carried out by group of people given specific task
and power to do so
Informal sanctions
• Conveyed in actions such as insults, dirty looks, insults
The ambiguities in the line between deviance and conformity
have created pressures to expand formal sanctions
Institutions of Social Control
Criminal justice system
• Criminal law, police forces, lawyers, court system,
jails, prisons, and parole office
• Hold accused people before trial, misdemeanor
offenders, and those with maximum sentence of less
than one year
• Contain convicted felons serving sentence of more
than one year
The Criminal Justice System
Offenders of criminal laws are punished
• To exact retribution for victims of criminal acts
• To deter offenders, and others from future
• To incapacitate or prevent offenders from
committing future crimes
• To rehabilitate or reform offenders
Mass Incarceration in America Today
• Latest moral crusade against
certain kinds of individual
• Politics (tough on crime)
• Conservative backlash to
social and cultural
movements of the 1960s
• Economic downturn in 1970s
• Urban riots in 1960s
Role of Racism
• Involves stereotypes based on perceived
characteristics rooted in skin color
• Has influenced racial stereotyping about
criminality throughout U.S. history
• Rising prison population reflects “new Jim Crow”
(Alexander 2010)
Consequences of Mass Incarceration
Sociologists ask why people commit crimes, why
societies choose to punish those actions, and what
are the larger consequences for the society as a
Do you know what some of these consequences
might be?
Check your text.
Deviance and the Sociological Imagination
People and groups with power have a
special capacity to define or impose
particular definitions of deviance and to
turn that definition into written laws and
forms of punishment
Can you use your sociological imagination to
look beneath the surface and examine the
hidden forms of inequality related to

7 Markets, Organizations, and Work