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Chapter 7

Deviance and Crime

Defining Deviance

 Behavior that is recognized as violating expected rules and norms.

 Behavior that departs significantly from social expectations.
Sociological Definition of Deviance

 Stresses social context, not individual behavior.

 Recognizes that not all behaviors are judged similarly by all groups.
 Recognizes that established rules and norms are socially created.
Sociological Perspectives of Deviance

Functionalism Deviance creates social cohesion.

Symbolic Interaction Deviance is learned behavior.

Conflict Theory Dominant classes control the definition of deviance.

Sociological Perspectives of Deviance

Functionalism Deviance results from structural strains in society.

Symbolic Interaction Deviance results from social labeling.

Conflict Theory Deviance results from inequality in society.

Sociological Perspectives of Deviance

Occurs when attachment to social bonds is


Those with the power to assign deviant labels

Symbolic Interaction
create deviance.

Conflict Theory Elite deviance goes largely unpunished.

Defining Deviance

 This photo of a woman being

executed by the Taliban
illustrates the extreme sanctions
that can be brought against
those defined as deviant by a
powerful group.
 This photo mobilized world
condemnation of the Taliban
regime for its treatment of
Smoking and Deviance

 Once considered “cool”, smokers

are now considered to be
deviants, scorned as polluters,
and often banished to outside

office buildings, as here .

Durkheim: Three Types of Suicide

1. Anomic - disintegrating forces in society make an individual feel lost and alone.
2. Altruistic - for the sake of a higher cause.
3. Egoistic - occurs when people feel totally detached from society.
The Navajo

 Strong ties among the Navajo

produce social integration,
resulting in the fact that the
Navajo have one of the lowest
suicide rates of any group in the
United States, and also lowest
among other Native American
tribal groups.
Merton’s Structural Strain Theory

 Culture establishes goals for people.

 Social structures provide, or fail to provide, the means for people to achieve those
 Imbalance between cultural goals and structurally available means can compel
individuals into deviant behavior.
Merton’s Structural Strain Theory

Cultural goals
means toward
goal available?

Conformity Yes Yes

Innovative deviance Yes No

Ritualistic deviance No Yes

Merton’s Structural Strain Theory

Cultural goals
means toward
goal available?

Retreatism No No

No (old goals) No (old means)

Yes (new goals) Yes (new means)
Social Control Agents

 From the point of view of conflict

theory, social control agents play a
significant role in defining deviant
Social Control Theory: Hirschi

 Travis Hirschi developed social control theory to explain the occurrence of deviance.
 According to social control theory, deviance occurs when a person’s (or group’s)
attachment to social bonds is weakened.
 Most of the time people internalize social norms because of their attachments to
 When that bond is broken, deviance occurs.
Symbolic Interaction Theories
Differential Association
 Deviant behavior is learned through interaction with others.

 People pass on deviant expectations through their social groups and networks .
Labeling Theory
Responses of others is most significant in deviance.
A person may become deviant because of a label, even if he/she did not engage in deviant
Deviant Communities

 Some deviance develops in

deviant communities, such as
the “skinheads” shown here
marching in a Ku Klux Klan rally
protesting the Martin Luther
King,Jr. holiday.
 Such right-wing extremist
groups have become more
common in recent years.
Social Stigmas
 A stigma is an attribute that is socially devalued and discredited.
 People with stigmas are defined in terms of their presumed deviance.
 In hiding their stigma, they isolate themselves from communities where they can
find support.
Substance Abuse
 Patterns of use vary by many factors such as age, gender, and race:
◦ People under age 25 are more likely to use marijuana and cocaine and binge
◦ Men are more likely than women to be problem drinkers and drug abusers.
◦ African Americans and Hispanics are less likely to drink than Whites and are far
less likely to be binge drinkers.
Use of Selected Substances by
High School Seniors
Crime and Deviance

 Crime is a type of deviant behavior, but not all deviant behavior would be called
 Deviance becomes crime when it is designated by the institutions of society as
violating such a law or laws.
 Criminology is the study of crime from a scientific perspective.
Sociological Theories of Crime

Functionalist Crime is learned through social interaction.

Symbolic Interaction Societies need a certain level of crime to clarify norms.

The lower the social class, the more the individual is

Conflict Theory
forced into criminality.
Sociological Theories of Crime

Crime results from social structural strains within


Labeling criminals tends to reinforce rather than deter

Symbolic Interaction

Conflict Theory Inequalities in society tends to produce criminal activity.

Sociological Theories of Crime

Crime may be functional to society, thus difficult to

Functionalist eradicate.

Institutions with the power to label produce rather than

Symbolic Interaction lessen crime.

Conflict Theory Reducing social inequalities will reduce crime.

Violent Crime in the United States
Classifications of Crimes

 Personal crimes - murder, aggravated assault, rape, robbery

 Property crimes - burglary, larceny, auto theft, arson
 Victimless crimes - gambling, illegal drug use, prostitution
 Hate crimes - assaults and other malicious acts motivated by bias
White-collar or Elite Crime
 Examples: embezzlement, insider trading, tax evasion
 In terms of dollars, white-collar crime is much more consequential for society than
street crimes
 Andrew S. “Fast Andy” Fastow, former chief financial officer of the Enron corporation,
is being taken to court by FBI agents.
 Martha Stewart the media/household tycoon, spent five months in prison for stock
Organized Crime

 Crime committed by organized groups, typically involving the provision of illegal

goods and services to others.
 Organized crime syndicates include any group that exercises control over large
illegal enterprises, such as the drug trade, illegal gambling, prostitution or weapons
Corporate Crime and Deviance

 Occurs in the context of a formal organization or bureaucracy and is sanctioned by

the norms and operating principles of the organization.
 Can occur within any of organization: corporate, educational, governmental, or
 Example: Sexual assault of youths by Catholic priests, and the attempted cover-ups
by assigning offending priests to parishes in different towns or states.
Race, Class, Sex and Crime

 Certain groups are more likely than others to commit crime given that crime is
linked to patterns of inequality in society.
 Sociologist Ramiro Martinez Jr. explored the connection between rates of violence in
Latino communities and the degree of inequality in 111 U.S. cities.
 His research shows a clear link between likelihood of lethal violence and
socioeconomic conditions for Latinos in these different cities.
Race and Crime

 Minorities constitute 25% of the population of the United States but are more than
33% of the people arrested for property crimes and almost 50% of the people
arrested for violent crimes.
 Sociological research has shown that police discretion is strongly influenced by class

and race judgments .

Victimization by Crime: A Class
Arrests by Race
Crime White Black American Indian Pacific

Murder 48.7 48.8 1.0 1.5

Forcible Rape 63.7 34.1 1.1 1.1

Robbery 44.2 53.9 0.6 1.2

Forgery 68.0 30.0 0.6 1.4

Rates for Selected Nations
State and Federal Prison
Population, 1980–2004
 A crime that violates international and domestic laws.
 Terrorism, whether domestic or international, is best understood not only as
individual insanity, but also as a politically, economically, and socially oriented form
of violence.

 Threats of terrorism, such as bioterrorism, have resulted in increased security and

countermeasures, particularly in urban areas