Deviance, Crime, and Social Control

Read this chapter for a review of deviance, crime, and social control. As you read each section, consider the following topics:

  • Read this section for an introduction to deviance and social control. What do you think about the experiences of the two students discussed in the chapter? Do you agree with the school's ruling about the dress code? Why or why not?
  • Take note of the definition of deviance and how social control is enforced through types of sanctions (Table 1). Can you think of times when you have been affected by sanctions?
  • Take note of the various theoretical perspectives typically used in sociology to describe or explain deviant behavior. Focusing on labeling theory and secondary deviance, can you think of a time in your life when a label assigned to you may have affected your behavior?
  • Take note of the various theoretical perspectives explaining deviance in society. Take note of the examples accompanying each theoretical model.

Key Terms

conflict theory
a theory that examines social and economic factors as the causes of criminal deviance

control theory
a theory that states social control is directly affected by the strength of social bonds and that deviance results from a feeling of disconnection from society

corporate crime
crime committed by white-collar workers in a business environment

corrections system
the system tasked with supervising individuals who have been arrested for, convicted of, or sentenced for criminal offenses

a system that has the authority to make decisions based on law

a behavior that violates official law and is punishable through formal sanctions

criminal justice system
an organization that exists to enforce a legal code

cultural deviance theory
a theory that suggests conformity to the prevailing cultural norms of lower-class society causes crime

a violation of contextual, cultural, or social norms

differential association theory
a theory that states individuals learn deviant behavior from those close to them who provide models of and opportunities for deviance

formal sanctions
sanctions that are officially recognized and enforced

hate crimes
attacks based on a person's race, religion, or other characteristics

informal sanctions
sanctions that occur in face-to-face interactions

labeling theory
the ascribing of a deviant behavior to another person by members of society

legal codes
codes that maintain formal social control through laws

master status
a label that describes the chief characteristic of an individual

negative sanctions
punishments for violating norms

nonviolent crimes
crimes that involve the destruction or theft of property, but do not use force or the threat of force

a civil force in charge of regulating laws and public order at a federal, state, or community level

positive sanctions
rewards given for conforming to norms

power elite
a small group of wealthy and influential people at the top of society who hold the power and resources

primary deviance
a violation of norms that does not result in any long-term effects on the individual’s self-image or interactions with others

the means of enforcing rules

secondary deviance
deviance that occurs when a person's self-concept and behavior begin to change after his or her actions are labeled as deviant by members of society

self-report study
a collection of data acquired using voluntary response methods, such as questionnaires or telephone interviews

social control
the regulation and enforcement of norms

social disorganization theory
a theory that asserts crime occurs in communities with weak social ties and the absence of social control

social order
an arrangement of practices and behaviors on which society's members base their daily lives

strain theory
a theory that addresses the relationship between having socially acceptable goals and having socially acceptable means to reach those goals

street crime
crime committed by average people against other people or organizations, usually in public spaces

victimless crime
activities against the law, but that do not result in injury to any individual other than the person who engages in them

violent crimes
crimes based on the use of force or the threat of force