Deviance and Social Control
This class will employ a critical sociological approach to deviance and social control in contemporary society. The topics to be considered include: the origins and functions of deviance in society; the institutional production and categorization of deviance; the impact of deviance on personal and social identity; deviant careers; and deviance and social change. We will consider several major theoretical perspectives on deviance within sociology, including functionalist, conflict, and symbolic-interactionist perspectives, and we will also be making use of current data on crime and current research in sociological and criminological journals and web sites, and examining portrayals of deviance and social control in literature, film and popular culture.
We will begin by reading George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel 1984 and considering this fundamental question: is all deviance essentially political? We will then consider whether or not the production of deviance (and deviants) is an essential part of our own bureaucratic and medicalized society. Then we will explore the dynamics of deviant identity, using Erving Goffman’s classic Stigma. After having established a theoretical foundation, we will take a closer look at deviant careers and organizations–focusing particularly on drugs, gangs and crime--and consider their origins and functions within society as well as the policies that address them.
Attendance is mandatory. There will be regular assigned writings, which will form the basis for small group discussions in class, and there will be two short research papers and two exams of equal weight. Grades will be based on these criteria:
Participation: 25% (short writings, group
work, discussion, presentations, etc)
There will also be numerous required articles distributed in class or available on reserve in the library.
EVIL SICKNESS PERVERSION CRIME DELINQUENCY HERESY
http://www.fbi.gov (Federal Bureau of Investigation)
Personal Troubles: Deviance and Identity
Basically you will be considering this fundamental question: How does a person become defined or identified as deviant? Describe the specific process and its repercussions within a particular context, using your source material and Goffman as a guide. You may use not only deviants but normals as fodder for your analysis and argument.
Key concepts: stigma-theory, limitations of normals, mixed contacts, discredited vs. discreditable
This paper will build on Goffman’s ideas about stigma in examining personal deviance and local social control mechanisms and their effects on individual identity and life chances. The particular way in which you do this will be open, but you should focus on the micro-level, using either a case study based on observation or real life accounts or an example from fiction or film. This will enable you to draw on concrete and specific examples in making your analysis and arguments. You should not write in generalities. If you do, it will adversely affect your grade.
Public Issues: Examining Policy from a Sociological Perspective
In this paper you will consider a particular issue relating to crime and/or deviance and examine how public policy addresses (or does NOT address) the issue.
You may build on discussions or materials from class relating to mental illness, drug use and drug abuse, gangs, or prisons, adding your own research and sociological analysis and developing your own policy argument, or you may strike out on your own and examine an issue that we have only touched on or have not addressed at all.
In either case, you should be sure to do the following:
Class Participation consists of the following factor:
Every couple weeks you will be expected to write a brief (1-2 pages) report in which you
These reports will not be individually graded but will count towards your participation grade. The purpose of these reports is to get you to explore these concepts and topics on your own; they may then contribute towards your longer papers.
Crime debates (5%):
Everyone in the class will participate in a series of debates on crime and corrections issues, based on Tischler’s book but incorporating sociological theories and sociological research. These will not be formal, scored debates but structured sociological discussions. This will also be a component of your participation grade; you will be expected to represent and articulate differing perspectives on an issue (not necessarily your own).
Class discussion (5%):
Everyone in the class is expected to participate in ongoing class discussions. The texts for the class are not meant as stable chunks of information to be ingested and digested but as starting points for inquiry and debate. Multiple single texts rather than large readers or anthologies have been chosen in order to give students a chance to explore topics in some depth. Smaller readings and outside projects will be used by students to pursue other topics and perspectives that may not have been discussed in class or in the longer assigned readings.
Mid Term Exam:
There will be no final exam in this class, as your final paper will be expected to demonstrate your grasp of relevant sociological concepts in relation to a particular set of issues. The mid-term exam will be based on material discussed in the first segment of the class, including classic theories of deviance, the labeling perspective and the medicalization of deviance.
This page last modified August 29, 2001