1: Find a current article about a crime that has been committed within the past three weeks. Look for language within the article that lends itself to a sociological explanation of the deviant behavior using one or more of the theories of deviance. You should not Google “crime” or “deviance” to find a current events article related to crime and deviance; rather, check reputable online news sources or an actual article about a crime or deviant behavior. There are always major deviant acts each week that make the national and local news.Articles should be a minimum of 500 words, recent (within three weeks), relevant (related to crime, deviance, and social control), and from a reputable * news source (many colleges provide free access to national news sources).* (STAY IN THE GREEN BOX)STEP 2: Write a thorough summary of the article.STEP 3: Using your sociological imagination, write an analysis of the article that connects the main idea/s of the article to specific key terms and theories from our chapter on Deviance, Crime and Social Control.STEP 4: Include the link to your article, check for any writing errors, and submit your article with your response paper.Deviance & Crime
Chapter 7
• Sociologists attempt to account for time, place, and groups
• Deviance is behavior that is recognized as violating expected
rules and norms.
Defining Deviance
Four main characteristics of deviant behavior:
1. It occurs in a social context and is not just individual
2. It is culturally relative.
3. The social rules are created or constructed; not just morally
decided upon or enforced.
4. The audience decides what is defined as deviant.
Defining Deviance
Formal Deviance- Breaks laws or official rules
Informal Deviance – Violates customary norms
Think of examples:
1. Two things (behaviors or beliefs) that are criminal but not deviant
2. Two things (behaviors or beliefs) that are deviant but not criminal
3. Two things (behaviors or beliefs) that are both deviant and
Sanctions – punishment for breaking norms, rules, and laws.
◦ Sanctions can be either formal or informal.
◦ Informal sanctions such as verbal reprimands
◦ Formal sanctions such as being sent to prison
◦ These are administered by formal agents (police, courts, etc.)
❑Context is necessary to understand deviance
❑Deviance in one circumstance may not be deviant in another
❑Behavior may be deviant for only certain people
❑Deviance varies over time
▪Social Movements:
▪Networks of groups that organize to support or resist changes in
Deviance within a social context
Deviance is not sick, pathological, or irrational
Deviance is created and defined within a social context
Deviance is influenced by society
Functionalist Perspective
Functionalists focus on how the behavior and the
audience’s reactions contribute to the stability of society.
Even dysfunctional behaviors reinforce stability.
◦The behavior creates social cohesion
Social Conditions and Suicide
A social fact
Varies inversely with the degree of social integration
Durkheim’s sociological study of suicide highlights
oThe significance of social interdependence
oHow social structures attach individuals to society
oHow different social conditions produce different social
Merton’s Structural Strain Theory
Deviance is a result of certain social structural strains that pressure individuals to
become deviant
Status Goals
◦ Wealth and education
◦ Society limits access to these goals
Anomie occurs because of the disjunctive between the culturally valued goals
and the legitimate means through which to attain those goals
Culturally, the goal is emphasized more than the means
Individuals seek illegitimate means to achieve goals
Modes of Adaptation
Mode of
Cultural Goals Cultural
Social Control
Social control theory examines the culture’s value systems
and people’s attachment—or lack thereof—to those values.
◦ Most people probably feel some impulse toward deviance
at times, but that the attachment to social norms prevents
them from actually participating in deviant behavior.
Social Control
Elements of Bonds:
1. Attachment refers to the extent to which a person feels attached to groups.
2. Commitment: People accumulate social and material investments. When
contemplating violating social norms, – the person must also consider the risk
of jeopardizing those investments.
3. Involvement
◦ Hirschi : “A person may be simply too busy doing conventional things to find
the time to engage in deviant behavior.”
4. Belief: Allegiance to the dominant value system.
A General Theory of Crime
Self-control is “the individual level cause of crime”
Self-control has six elements:
1. Seeking immediate gratification
2. A preference for simple tasks, easy tasks
3. Partiality towards thrill seeking, risky, and exciting behaviors
4. Preference for the physical rather than mental tasks
5. Insensitivity towards others and self-centered orientation
6. Low tolerance for frustration
A General Theory of Crime
▪Self-control is a life-long trait – it is relatively stable.
▪Established in the early childhood years
▪The theorists propose that effective child rearing is the chief
contributor for self-control.
▪So, the “cause” of low self-control is ineffective child rearing.
Conflict Theory
▪Conflict theories focus on the differential distribution of power
▪Some groups have enough power to create laws and rules – and some groups
do not.
▪ Those who create laws and rules create them to protect and promote their
own interests.
▪Deviance represents behavior that conflicts with the standards of segments of
society with the power to shape public policy and opinion.
Conflict Theory
Criminal laws act as a form of control for the ruling class:
1. Laws prohibit certain conduct, – especially conduct that might threaten the ruling
2. Laws legitimize intervention by society’s sources of social control – (police, courts,
prisons, etc.)
Conflict theorists demonstrate that the upper class has the means available to
hide their criminal behavior.
◦ White collar crime – wealthy elite will always exploit the poor and working
◦ Examples: embezzlement, illegal political campaigns, and tax evasion
Symbolic Interaction Theories
▪This perspective emphasizes the meanings surrounding deviance, as
well as how people respond to those meanings.
▪W.I. Thomas originated this perspective and argued that deviance is
a normal response to the social conditions in which people find
Differential Association Theory
▪The underlying assumption is that criminal and deviant behaviors
are learned through the same process that other behaviors are
▪The core components of differential association are focused on what
is learned and how they are learned
Differential Association Theory
Criminal behavior is learned
Criminal behavior is learned during interpersonal communication and interactions with others
Intimate groups are most influential in learning criminal behaviors
Learning criminal behavior includes learning about techniques to commit crime
Drive is learned from the cultural definitions that are either favorable or unfavorable to crime
Excess of definitions favorable to crime over definitions unfavorable to crime
The frequency, duration, priority, and intensity of differential associations vary
Learning is the same for both criminal and normative behaviors
Although criminal behavior may express needs – it is not explained by that need
Labeling Theory
▪Focus on the process of society defining deviant acts and the role of negative
sanctions in influencing subsequent deviant acts.
▪They are interested in the reactions to deviance and the consequences of social
Therefore, there are two important components to labeling theory:
Reactivist conception (Primary) – the definition of deviance
Theory of secondary deviation (Secondary) – the consequences of social
control efforts.
Labeling Theory
▪Primary deviance: first act (less important)
▪Secondary deviance: Defense or adjustment to label
▪Labeling someone as “deviant” – becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Labeling Theory
▪Tertiary Deviants – reject the rejection
▪Stigma contest – Different groups have different definitions of
▪Society’s definition reflects the most influential group
Crime and Criminal Justice
Crime: deviant behavior that violates laws.
What is the difference between deviance and crime?
Deviance violates norms and rules – crime is a type of deviance that
breaks formal laws.
Criminology is the scientific study of crime and criminal behavior.
Crime and Criminal Justice
The Uniform Crime Reports are based on actual national incident reports made
by the police.
◦ Index crimes are crimes of murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery, and
aggravated assault, plus property crimes of burglary, larceny-theft, and motor
vehicle theft.
Data are classified as:
◦ Personal Crimes (murder, aggravated assault, rape, and robbery)
◦ Property Crimes (burglary, larceny, auto theft, and arson)
Victimless crimes include gambling, illegal drug use, and prostitution, in which
there is no complainant.
Hate crimes have increased in recent years, esp. against gays and lesbians.
Organized crime: crime committed by structured groups
Corporate crime: takes place in and is endorsed by a bureaucracy.
◦ Costs of corporate crime may be as high as $200 billion every year.
Does the criminal justice system treat all people equally/ within
the neutral principles of the law?
▪Bail is set higher for African Americans and Latinos than for Whites
▪Young Black and Latino men are sentenced more harshly than any other group,
and are less likely to be released on probation.
▪Minority defendants are found guilty more often than White defendants.
▪Blacks and Hispanics are likely to get longer sentences than Whites.
Terrorism as International Crime
Terrorism is a violent action to achieve political ends.
◦ Violates both international and domestic laws.
◦ Crosses national borders.
To understand it, a global perspective is required as it is globally linked to
other forms of international crime.

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