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What are the strengths of positivist theory?

Search for causation, which facilitates identification of the most effective means of achieving fixed ends.


What do subjective views of deviance claim?

We cannot know deviance when we see it, and instead must be told that a behaviour or characteristic is deviant.


Interpretive Theories

Theories that draw attention to people's intersubjective understandings of the world around them, other people, and themselves.


Critical Theories

Theories that focus on the power relations that underlie the creation of social rules, and that have an interest in emancipation and social justice.


Symbolic Interactionism

The theoretical perspective that describes society as composed of social interaction, which occurs via communication through symbols; the foundation for all interpretive theories.


Role Taking

In symbolic interactionist theory, the process by which we vicariously place ourselves in the roles of others in order to see the world from their points of view, which then influences our own attitudes and actions.


Looking-Glass Self

According to symbolic interactionist theory, the process by which our assumptions about what other people think of us influences what we think about ourselves and how we look or act.


Significant Others

In symbolic interactionist theory, people who are personally important to us.


Generalized Other

In symbolic interactionist theory, our perception of the viewpoints if generic "people" in society.


Labelling Theory

Interpretive theories that describe the process by which individuals are labelled as deviant, which then has implications for how other treat them and their own subsequent behaviours and identities.



Abstaining from self-indulgent aspects of life.



In Tannenbaum's labelling theory, the deviant label that we initially attach to an individual's behaviour.


Dramatization of Evil

In Tannenbaum's labelling theory, the judgment that it is no longer a particular behaviour that is deviant, but rather it is the person her or himself that is deviant.


Give an example of how tagging can lead to a dramatization of evil.

If someone does something evil (tagging), they can become considered as an evil person (dramatization of evil).


Primary Deviance

In Lemert's labelling theory, the occasional rule breaking everyone engages in, which is seldom noticed and rarely caught.


Secondary Deviance

A lifestyle and identity based on chronic rule breaking.


Master Status

A core characteristic by which others identify a person.



The process of exclusion that follows a deviant master status.



The interpretive school of thought that suggests social life is similar to performing in the theatre, wherein individuals have front-stage selves and back-stage selves.


Front-Stage Selves

In the dramaturgical approach, the social roles people play when when in front of a variety of audiences.


Back-Stage Selves

In the dramaturgical approach, individuals' identities and behaviours when they are no longer in front of any audience, but rather are alone or with those who are closest to them.


Spoiled Identity

In the dramaturgical approach, the stigmatization faced when an individual assumes a deviant role on the front stage.


Identity/Impression Management

Techniques used by individuals to manage their stigmatization.


What are some techniques for identity or impression management?

Humour, educating, defiance, cowering, passing.


Disintegrative Shaming

The process by which deviantized persons are rejected by the community.


Reintegrative Shaming

Individuals are temporarily stigmatized for their deviant acts, but then accepted back into the community.


Tertiary Deviance

Following a person's transition to secondary deviance, his or her efforts to resist a deviant label and instead redefine normal in a way that includes the deviantized behaviour or characteristic.


Deviant Career

An interpretive theory of deviance that claims deviance emerges, progresses through stages, and changes over time, similar to the developmental stages of a career.


Career Contingencies

In the theory of the deviant career, significant turning points that influence the directions that people take at various points in the deviant career.


What is the primary criticism of interpret theories?

Fail to address the social structure and its role in the processes surrounding deviance and normality.