Chapter 7: Deviance, Crime and Social Control Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Chapter 7: Deviance, Crime and Social Control Deck (38):

Social Control

refers to the techniques and strategies for preventing deviant human behavior in any society. Social control occurs on all levels of society. In the family, we are socialized to obey our parents simply because they are our parents.


Peer groups

Introduce us to informal norms, such as dress codes, that govern the behavior of their members.



...or penalties and rewards for conduct concerning a social norm.
-If we fail to live up to the norm, we may face punishment through informal sanctions such as fear and ridicule or formal sanctions such as
-jail sentences


Functionalists on Social Control

they that people must respect social norms if any group or society is to survive. In their view, societies literally could not function if massive numbers of people defied standards of appropriate conduct


Conflict Theorists on Social Control

they say that the successful functioning of a society will consistently benefit the powerful and work to the disadvantage of other groups.
-They point out that in the United States, widespread resistance to social norms was necessary to win our independence from Great Britain,
-- to overturn the institution of slavery, to allow women to vote, to secure civil rights, and to force an end to the war in Vietnam.


Conformity and Obedience

Techniques for social control operate on both the group level and the societal level.


The Milgram Experiment

-Milgram used the term conformity and obedience. Thus, a recruit entering military service will typically conform to the habits and language of other recruits and obey the orders of superior officers.
-Students will conform to the drinking behavior of their peers and obey the requests of campus security officers.



to mean going along with peers—individuals of our own status who have no special right to direct our behavior. In contrast.



Is compliance with higher authorities in a hierarchical structure.


Reflecting on the Milgram Experiment

The results of this unusual experiment stunned and dismayed Milgram and other social scientists.
-A sample of psychiatrists had predicted that virtually all subjects would refuse to shock innocent victims.
-In their view, only a “pathological fringe” of less than 2 percent would continue administering shocks up to the maximum level. Yet almost two-thirds of participants fell into the category of “obedient subjects.”


Informal and Formal Social Control

The sanctions that are used to encourage conformity and obedience—and to discourage violation of social norms—are carried out through both informal and formal social control.


Informal social control

casually to enforce norms.
-Examples include smiles, laughter, a raised eyebrow, and ridicule
-In the United States and many other cultures, adults often view spanking, slapping, or kicking children as a proper and necessary means of informal social control.


Formal social control

Is carried out by authorized agents, such as police officers, judges, school administrators, employers, military officers, and managers of movie theaters. It can serve as a last resort when socialization and informal sanctions do not bring about desired behavior.


death penalty

has served as a significant form of social control. The threat of execution was meant as much to discourage others from committing capital crimes as it was to punish those who did.



Sociologists see the creation of laws as a social process.
-Because governments make laws in response to a perceived need for formal social control
-sociologists have sought to explain how and why such a perception arises. In their view, law is not merely a static body of rules handed down from generation to generation. Rather, it reflects continually changing standards of what is right and wrong, of how violations are to be determined, and of what sanctions are to be applied


Control theory

Suggests that our connection to members of society leads us to systematically conform to society’s norms. According to sociologist Travis Hirschi and other control theorists, our bonds to family members, friends, and peers induce us to follow the mores and folkways of our society. We give little conscious thought to whether we will be sanctioned if we fail to conform. Socialization develops our self-control so well that we don’t need further pressure to obey social norms.



is behavior that violates the standards of conduct or expectations of a group or society. In the United States, alcoholics, compulsive gamblers, and people with mental illness would all be classified as deviants.
-Being late for class is categorized as a deviant act; the same is true of wearing jeans to a formal wedding. On the basis of the sociological definition, we are all deviant from time to time.


Deviance and Social Stigma

Because of physical or behavioral characteristics, some people are unwillingly cast in negative social roles.
-Once assigned a deviant role, they have trouble presenting a positive image to others and may even experience lowered self-esteem. Whole groups of people—for instance, “short people” or “redheads”—may be labeled in this way. -The interactionist Erving Goffman coined the term stigma to describe the labels society uses to devalue members of certain social groups


Deviance and Technology

Technological innovations such as pagers and voicemail can redefine social interactions and the standards of behavior related to them.
-When the Internet was first made available toPage 161 the general public, no norms or regulations governed its use.
- Because online communication offers a high degree of anonymity, uncivil behavior—speaking harshly of others or monopolizing chat room space—quickly became common.
-Online bulletin boards designed to carry items of community interest became littered with commercial advertisements.
- Such deviant acts are beginning to provoke calls for the establishment of formal rules for online behavior.


Functionalist Perspective on Deviance

According to functionalists, deviance is a common part of human existence, with positive as well as negative consequences for social stability. Deviance helps to define the limits of proper behavior.


Durkheim’s Legacy

Émile Durkheim ([1895] 1964) focused his sociological investigations mainly on criminal acts, yet his conclusions have implications for all types of deviant behavior.
-In Durkheim’s view, the punishments established within a culture (including both formal and informal mechanisms of social control) help to define acceptable behavior and thus contribute to stability.


Merton’s Theory of Deviance

On the basis of this kind of analysis, sociologist Robert Merton (1968) adapted Durkheim’s notion of anomie to explain why people accept or reject the goals of a society, the socially approved means of fulfilling their aspirations, or both.
-Merton reasoned that people adapt in certain ways, either by conforming to or by deviating from such cultural expectations. His anomie theory of deviance posits five types of behavior or basic forms of adaptation


Interactionist Perspective on Deviance

The functionalist approach to deviance explains why rule violations continue to happen despite pressure to conform and obey. -However, functionalists do not indicate how a given person comes to commit a deviant act or why on some occasions crimes do or do not occur.
-The emphasis on everyday behavior that is the focus of the interactionist perspective offers such an explanation: cultural transmission theory.


cultural transmission

emphasizes that one learns criminal behavior by interacting with others.
-Such learning includes not only the techniques of lawbreaking (for example, how to break into a car quickly and quietly) but also the motives, drives, and rationalizations of the criminal.
- The cultural transmission approach can also be used to explain the behavior of those who habitually abuse alcohol or drugs.

-Sutherland maintained that through interactions with a primary group and significant others, people acquire definitions of proper and improper behavior.


Differential Association

to describe the process through which exposure to attitudes favorable to criminal acts leads to the violation of rules.


social disorganization theory

Increases in crime and deviance can be attributed to the absence or breakdown of communal relationships and social institutions, such as the family, school, church, and local government.


labeling theory on Deviants

labeling theory does not focus on why some individuals come to commit deviant acts. Instead, it attempts to explain why certain people (such as the Roughnecks) are viewed as deviants, delinquents, bad kids, losers, and criminals, whereas others whose behavior is similar (such as the Saints) are not seen in such harsh terms.

-Reflecting the contribution of interactionist theorists, labeling theory emphasizes how a person comes to be labeled as deviant or to accept that label.


societal-reaction approach

-Another name for the 'Labeling theory'
-reminding us that it is the response to an act, not the behavior itself, that determines deviance.


social constructionist perspective on deviance

deviance is the product of the culture we live in. Social constructionists focus specifically on the decision-making process that creates the deviant identity. They point out that “child abductors,” “deadbeat dads,” “spree killers,” and “date rapists” have always been with us, but at times have become the major social concern of policymakers because of intensive media coverage


Conflict POV on deviance

Conflict theorists point out that people with power protect their interests and define deviance to suit their needs

Crime, according to Quinney (1970),
-is a definition of conduct created by authorized agents of social control—such as legislators and law enforcement officers—in a politically organized society. He and other conflict theorists argue that lawmaking is often an attempt by the powerful to coerce others into their morality.
United States treats suspects differently based on their racial, ethnic, or social-class background. In many cases, officials in the system use their own discretion to make biased decisions about whether to press charges or drop them, whether to set bail and how much, whether to offer parole or deny it.


differential justice

differences in the way social control is exercised over different groups—puts African Americans and Latinos at a disadvantage in the justice system, both as juveniles and as adults.


Feminist Perspective

Feminist criminologists such as Freda Adler and Meda Chesney-Lind have suggested that many of the existing approaches to deviance and crime were developed with only men in mind.



is a violation of criminal law for which some governmental authority applies formal penalties. It represents a deviation from formal social norms administered by the state.


victimless crime

to describe the willing exchange among adults of widely desired but illegal goods and services, such as prostitution


organized crime

the work of a group that regulates relations among criminal enterprises involved in illegal activities, including prostitution, gambling, and the smuggling and sale of illegal drugs.


ethnic succession

Sociologist Daniel Bell (1953) used the term ethnic succession to describe the sequential passage of leadership from Irish Americans in the early part of the 20th century to Jewish Americans in the 1920s and then to Italian Americans in the early 1930s. Ethnic succession has become more complex, reflecting the diversity of the nation’s latest immigrants.


white-collar crime

Income tax evasion, stock manipulation, consumer fraud, bribery and extraction of kickbacks, embezzlement, and misrepresentation in advertising
illegal acts committed in the course of business activities, often by affluent, “respectable” people.


hate crime

when the offender is motivated to choose a victim based on race, religion, ethnic group, national origin, or sexual orientation, and when evidence shows that hatred prompted the offender to commit the crime. Hate crimes are sometimes referred to as bias crimes