Deviance and Social Control

Deviance and Social Control
What is Deviance?
• Refers to a violation of norms
• According to Howard S. Becker, it isn’t the act
itself, but how society reacts to it, that makes an
action deviant
• It is a relative concept
– Different groups have different norms
• What is deviant to some, is not to others
• Varies from 1 time period to another
• Crime is a violation of rules that have been
written into law
• Sociologists use the term deviance nonjudgmental to
refer to any act to which people respond negatively
– All people are deviant bc everyone violates rules from
time to time
• Erving Goffman used the term stigma to refer to
attributes that discredit one’s claim to a “normal”
– Physical deformities, skin color
– Defines a person’s master status, superseding all other
statuses the person occupies
Social Order
• A groups customary social arrangements
• Norms allow social order bc they lay out the
basic guidelines for how we play our roles and
how we interact with others
Deviance as a threat
• Deviance is often seen as threatening bc it
violates a group’s customary social
arrangements and undermines the predictability
that is the foundation of social life
• Human groups develop a system of social
control, formal and informal means of enforcing
the norms
Society and deviance
• Society’s disapproval of deviance takes the form
of negative sanctions and ranges from frowns
and gossip to imprisonment and capital
Sociological explanation of deviance
• Explain deviance by looking outside the
• Social influences
▫ Socialization
▫ Subculture group memberships
▫ Social class
 Education
 Occupation
 Income and wealth
Examples of deviance
2 types of Deviance
• Criminal deviance- involve violating a criminal
• Noncriminal deviance- homophobia, use of
pornography, mental disorders
• More likely to be committed against
acquaintance, friends, or relatives than strangers
▫ Both a source of pleasure and frustration in a
person’s life
• Usually carried out under uncontrollable rage
• Occurs most frequently during weekend
evenings (Saturday night)
• Handguns is the most commonly used weapon
• Involves the use of force to get a person to do
something sexual against his/her will
• 110,000 rapes are reported per year but the
number is much higher than that
• Majority of these cases involve people in close
▫ Often times people don’t believe that what they
are doing is forced
Culture of Rape
• 3 prevailing attitudes towards women:
1. Women have been treated as property of men
Some states a man cant be prosecuted for raping
his wife
What about women who are prostitutes?
2. Women have been viewed as objects of
masculinity contests
To be accepted a man is pressured to have sex with
as many women as possible
3. The myth that deep down women want to be
The “no means yes” myth, “she asked for it” etc.
Binge Drinking
• Having at least 5 drinks in a row for men and 4
drinks in a row for women
• At least 50 college students throughout the United
States drink themselves to death every year
▫ 40% of college students intend to binge drink or get
drunk every time they drink
• Binge-drinking students are more likely to miss class,
fall behind in schoolwork, have poor grades, engage
in unprotected sex, get injured, etc.
• More likely to be male, white, involved in athletics or
greek life
Corporate Crime
• Committed by company officials w/o the overt
use of force and their effect on the victims is not
readily traceable to the offender
• Can be perpetrated against employees and
▫ Disregard for safety in the workplace, consumer
fraud, price fixing, unsafe products, violation of
environmental regulations
• More rationally executed, more profitable and
less detectable by police
• 3 characteristics separate corporate crime from
street crime
1. The Criminal’s Noncriminal SelfImage
• See themselves as respectable people
• Rationalize their actions
▫ Example: violators of price fixing: insist they are
helping the nation’s economy by “stabilizing
• See themselves as the victims- unlucky to get
caught for something that everyone does
▫ “Everyone cheats on their income taxes”
• Denial of criminal intent
▫ “I made a mistake”
2. The Victim’s unwitting
• Many victims unwittingly cooperate with the
corporate criminal
▫ Example: a home improvement scam- the victims
don’t bother to check the work history of the
company and don’t read the contracts they sign
3. Society’s Relative Indifference
• Little effort is made to catch corporate criminals
• If caught they seldom go to jail or receive a light
Mental Problems
• About 22% of US adults suffer from mental
problems serious enough to require help or
hospitalization every year
• Psychosis- loss of touch with reality
• Neurosis- persistent fear, anxiety or worry
• Social class is a key factor in mental illness as
well as gender, ethnicity and culture
▫ Women experience more depression
▫ Men tend to have more antisocial personalities
Suicide Bombings
• Evidence seems to suggest the opposite of the
popular belief that suicide bombers are
psychotic, irrational, poor and uneducated
• Come from relatively well off middle class
• Believe they are martyrs for their cause
• Altruistic suicide- people are so strongly tied to
their group that they effectively lose their selves
and stand ready to do their group’s bidding