Group Project 4 Deviance Theories
Select a theory of deviance from the lecture notes that best explains any five of the
seven behaviors listed below. You must justify your choice in each case. If you
choose Merton’s theory, include the appropriate adaptation in your justification.
You may use any or all of the theories discussed in class. You do not have to use the
same theory to explain all five behaviors.
1. A convict commits suicide in prison.
2. An alcoholic is living and sleeping in a homeless camp.
3. A gang member is involved in a drive-by shooting.
4. A financial manager steals money from the company where he works.
5. Students in a remedial math class lack motivation to learn.
6. A college student becomes a marijuana user.
7. A judge sentences a 16 year old male to return to a youth detention facility.
Chapter 6 – Deviance and crime
Social order – system of people, relationships, customs operating to
accomplish society’s work
Social control is achieved through sanctions, law, socialization that
encourage conformity to norms and rules and discourage deviance.
Internal social control takes place when people internalize
norms and values and follow them in their lives
External social control involves negative sanctions that
proscribe certain behaviors and punish rule breakers
Deviance is behavior, belief or condition that violates social norms and
expectations in the society/group in which it occurs (thereby judged
negatively by most of society’s members)
Functions of deviance:
1) sets boundaries for permitted behavior/ clarifies rules
2) promotes group solidarity and unifies the group
3) can stimulate social change
Deviance is relative – it varies by time, place and social
Groups with more power are likely to have their definition of
Crime is any act that violates the law. Laws are specific
rules enacted by a political authority with specific
punitive sanctions such as fines and/or jail terms.
Crimes are divided into felonies and misdemeanors:
felonies are serious crimes such as homicide or rape for
which punishment ranges from more than a year in
prison to death.
misdemeanors are minor crimes typically punished by
less than one year in jail
• Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) produced by FBI and
based on statistics from local jurisdictions.
• Victimization studies are reports by alleged victims of
crimes compiled by U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
• Anonymous self reports of crime reveal higher rates than
those found in official statistics.
• They give different views on the prevalence of crime with
the UCR showing a lower rate.
Crime Rates in the U.S. per 100,000 population
Based on FBI Data and Victim Reports
Victim Report FBI Rate
Social characteristics of persons arrested for crimes against persons or
young -those under than 25 commit 46% of violent crime and 56% of
male -commit 76% of crime; women keep up with men on forgery and fraud
black -39% of arrests for violent crime and 30% of arrests for property crime
but only 13% of population
poor- lower social classes are more often arrested for violent & property
50% of violent crimes & 61% of property crimes are not reported to police
Men are more likely to be victims although women more fearful
African Americans more likely to be victims than any other ethnic group
Types of crime
Public order crimes – victimless crimes such as gambling, prostitution, drug
use in a willing exchange
Occupational or White collar crime – committed by respectable persons in
the performance of job duties
Organized crime – large groups organized to maximize profit and minimize
Index (UCR) or street crimes – against persons and property; often involve
violence (force or threat of force); examples are murder, rape, robbery;
burglary, motor vehicle theft, larceny, theft, arson
Political crimes – illegal or unethical actions involving usurpation of power
by government officials. Can be illegal or unethical acts against the
government by outsides to overthrow the government or make a political
Corporate crime – illegal act committed by corporate employees on behalf
of the corporation and with its support
Internet crimes consist of FBI-related scams, identity theft, advance fee
fraud, nonauction/nondelivery of merchandise, and overpayment fraud.
Discretionary Powers in Law Enforcement
Criminal justice system refers to the local, state and federal agencies
that enforce laws, adjudicate crimes and treat and rehabilitate
Functions of punishment (action designed to deprive person of things of
value (including liberty) because of offence person is thought to
• Retribution imposes a penalty on the offender and is based on the
premise that punishment should fit the crime
• Incapacitation or social protection is served by restricting offenders
so it is impossible for them to commit further crimes.
• Rehabilitation seeks to return offenders to the community as law
• Deterrence seeks to reduce criminal activity by instilling fear of the
certainty and extent (severity) of punishment
Death Row Census May 2019
Life in prison (as of Dec 2009)
Average daily cost to house a prisoner in Texas = $47.50 or $17,338
per year or $693,500 for 40 years
Death row incarceration
Trial cost from indictment through state and federal appeals ranges
from $1.2 -$1.8 million with the federal appeals being most
Separate death row incarceration for one inmate costs $140,000
*exact statistics on the costs of executions are elusive, because
each case is different in timing and court actions,
American Bar Association Report on Texas Death Penalty System
Jury Instructions – Texas should abandon use of the “future dangerousness” issue in
instruction to capital juries.
Mental Retardation – Texas should pass a law barring application fo the death
penalty to persons with mental retardation providing a definition that that conforms to
American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and requiring
pretrial determination by a judge.
Proportionality Review – Court of Criminal Appeals should conduct a proportionality
review of every death sentence to protect against the random and arbitrary imposition
of the death penalty. Twenty of 254 counties account for 76% of those sentenced to
State Habeas Corpus Proceedings – Most Texas death row inmates have not
benefited from improvements to fairness and dues process developed over the past
several years. They should receive new sentencing hearings so their punishment can
Clemency – Texas should create a meaningful clemency process requiring the Board
of Pardons and Paroles to conduct public hearings and adopt guidelines to evaluate
Quality of Counsel – The report makes extensive recommendations regarding
qualifications, selection, compensation and evaluation of capital counsel at every step
of the process.
Positivist explanations of criminal behavior
Biological – result of physical makeup
– Disease model or medicalization of deviance
– Lombroso and body types associated with deviance
– Rational choice or deterrence: pleasure pain calculations
– Antisocial personality disorder
– Low IQ
– Thinking errors
Theories of deviance
Merton’s strain theory – deviance behavior results from gap between
goals a society sets up and ways of satisfying or meeting the goal.
Those denied access to legitimate goals experience frustration that
may lead to deviance.
conformity – accept goals and means
innovation – accept goals and new delinquent means
ritualism – abandon goals and rigidly adhere to means (bureaucratic
retreatism – abandon goals and means to become addict alienated
rebellion – reject goals and means and replace them with new goals
and means to reach them
Social bond theory
Travis Hirschi explored why all poor people don’t become deviant.
Deviance is avoided by youth strongly bonded to society through
attachment to family, teachers, law-abiding peers. They are
committed to conventional activities and share commonly held
values – develop positive self image and self control.
Opportunity theory – Cloward and Ohlin suggested that for deviance to
occur people must have access to illegitimate opportunity structures
that allow them to acquire through illegitimate channels what they
cannot get through legitimate ones.
criminal gang – economic gain is opportunity
conflict gang – no economic gain so turf fights
retreatist gang– deviants retreat into addiction
Differential association or cultural transmission – Sutherland looked at
how deviant behavior is acquired through socialization in deviant
subculture – one learns the behavior and rationalizations for it.
Success depends on age of association, frequency and duration of
association. Subculture reinforces and sanctions the deviance.
Differential Reinforcement – Criminologist Ronald Akers combined
differential association theory with elements of psychological
learning theory to create differential reinforcement theory.
– If a person’s friends and groups define deviant behavior as
“right,” they is more likely to engage in deviant behavior.
– If a person’s friends and groups define deviant behavior as
“wrong,” the person is less likely to engage in that behavior.
Labeling theory(Becker and Lemert) – deviance is socially constructed
process in which social control agencies designate certain people as
deviants and those people accept label and begin to act accordingly
– everyone breaks rules but not everyone is labeled deviant
Primary deviance = we all break rules
Explores process by which group comes to define some of us as
After a person is labeled as deviant, the group changes their response
based on the label.
The label produces consequences for future behavior.
Secondary deviance – person alters self concept to fit reactions of
others and acts out roles based on new definition.
Label becomes self fulfilling prophecy – determining nature of future
social interaction in the community
Tertiary deviance – when person who has been labeled as deviant tries
to normalize behavior by re-labeling it as non deviant.
Society creates deviance by making rules that when broken constitute
What about those who resist or don’t accept the label?
How labeling theory works
breaking – we all
normalize behavior &
Critical conflict theory – those who possess political and economic
power are able to enforce rules that work to their advantage.
White, upper class males have the advantage.
Those in positions of power are better able to resist the label
Powerful people determine what deviance is and who the deviant
Capitalist society needs to be reformed, not people.
Crime results from class exploitation where poor use crime as
liberal: deviance arises from discrimination
radical: focuses on patriarchy
socialist: focuses on capitalism and patriarchy
Post modern – Knowledge is power. Power, knowledge and social
control (technology) are intertwined. Surveillance of those in
subordinate positions confers power.
• The 2011 United Nations Conference on Global Organized Crime
estimated that the global trade in drugs alone generates $600 billion
• Profits from all kinds of global criminal activities are estimated to
range from $750 billion to more than $5 trillion a year.
• Reducing global crime requires a global response, including:
– International coordination to identify, investigate and prosecute
– Education and awareness of the impact of these crimes
– Intelligence and technology to assist law enforcement combat
– Assistance for developing countries to counter terrorist threats
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