Deviance and Social Control

Prof. Paul Draus

Office: Carnegie 106 X3072

MWF 10-10:50

Office Hours: 11-12 M-Th

Science 1405

(or by appointment)

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)
Exam: 20%
Paper 1: 25%   (Personal troubles paper)
Paper 2: 30%   (Public issues paper)

Required texts:


George Orwell

The Manufacture of Madness

Thomas Szasz


Erving Goffman

Street Addicts in the Political Economy

Alisse Waterston

Islands in the Street

Martin Sanchez Jankowski

Debating Points: Crime and Corrections

Henry L. Tischler

A Nation of Lords

David Dawley

There will also be numerous required articles distributed in class or available on reserve in the library.


Recommended Journals:

Social Problems

Social Forces

Journal of Contemporary Ethnography

Deviant Behavior

Crime and Delinquency


Law and Society

Journal of Sex Research


Journal of Social Psychology

and many many more.


Recommended Websites: (Federal Bureau of Investigation) (Corporate Crime) (Criminology Links)    (White Collar Crime)  (Texas Death Row)

Part I.

What is Deviance? Who is Deviant?  Is it you?  Is it me?  Who decides who it is?



Introduction,  ‘The saints and the roughnecks”, Zimbardo, Milgram and Rosenhan


Rule-Making and Rule-Breaking



1984 part i - Thoughts


1984 part ii - Acts


1984 part iii - Repercussions


report #1 who is big brother?


Part II. 

Deviance and Identity: I’m not a bad person (am I?)


Gove, “The Labeling Perspective”



Goffman Chapter 1 Stigma and Social Identity


Goffman Chapter 2 Information Control and Personal Identity


Goffman Chapters 3,4,5  Group alignment and ego identity


report #2 living with stigma


recommended films: Cuckoo’s Nest, Cool Hand Luke, Girl Interrupted, Tigerland


Part III. 

Deviance, religion, medicine, insanity, perversity, etc.



Szasz Part I, Chapters 1-3 McConnaughey,  “Doctors seek way to Measure Evil”


Szasz Part I, Chapters 4-8   Surgeon General “Epidemiology of mental illness”


Szasz  Part II, Chapters 9-11,  Solomon, “A cure for poverty”



Szasz  Part II,  Chapters 12-13, “painting insanity black”


Szasz, Part II, Chapters 14-15  “Bedouin explanations of mental health symptoms”


film: Committed in Error: The Mental Health System Gone Mad


report #3 the regime of the normal








Mid-Term Exam


Part IV. 

Deviant careers and Difficult Lives; Inner City to Heartland


“The Iowan Connection”; “Meth invasion”

“Social construction of American Indian drinking”

“Leaning on Syrup”, “the Alchemy of OxyContin”



 Waterston Chapter 1-2


 Waterston 3-4, Boardman et all, “Neighborhood Disadvantage and Drug Use”


 Waterston 5-7



Pornography and Moral Panics


Booze, Crack, Weed, Crank, and Lean: Is Our Society Addicted to Addiction?


films: Gridlock’d, Trainspotting, Requiem for a Dream


Fall Break; don’t break the law



Paper #1 due


Part V.

Deviant Organizations and Criminal Institutions


Guest Speakers: Ra Chaka, Alice Kim,  Ronald Jones, Louva Bell, Jonathan Peck


Additional readings:


Durkheim, “The Normal and the Pathological”


Darrow “Address to Inmates at Cook County Jail”


Fishman, “Creating a Crime Wave”


Bureau of Justice Statistics; Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2001


Robin, “Fear: A Genealogy of Morals”


Ker Muir, “Four Policemen”, and “The Extortionate Transaction”


Irwin, “Criminal Identities”



Sanchez-Jankowski  1-3


Sanchez-Jankowski  4-6


Sanchez-Jankowski  7-9


report #4 what is a gang ?



Oliver, “The Color of Crime”; Kooistray, “The World of Crime According to ‘Cops’”


Foucault, “Prison Talk”, Ryan, “Illegal Order”: “Fear and Loathing in California”


“A year in corporate crime”, “When crime pays”


Film: The Thin Blue Line


Part VI.

Sociology and Policy


McNulty,“Race, crime and public housing in Atlanta”

Bauroth, “Regime approaches to obscenity policy”



Crime Debates  Tischler


Crime Debates  Tischler


Crime Debates Tischler 



Crime Debates Tischler 


Crime Debates Tischler 


report #5 crime and punishment



Thanksgiving Holiday



Total Institutions


film: The Farm  Part 1


film: The Farm Part 2


Part VII. 

Deviance and Social Change


Sidran, “the Evolution of the Black Underground”,

Patton; “Tremble. Hetero Swine!”,

Goldberg, “Welfare Recipients or Workers?”



Dawley, 1-54


Dawley, 97-202


report #6 revolution or reform?


film: Live Nude Girls Unite!









12/Final Papers due

Paper #1

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.

Paper #2

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:

  • Describe the issue or problem, who it affects, how many people, where, how, etc.  This will involve some use of relevant and reliable data.  This can be a local, regional or a national problem, but you need to define it clearly.
  • Analyze the current policy that is meant to address the issue; how is it justified (ideologically or rationally)?  What is it supposed to accomplish?  How effective is it?  How is its effectiveness measured?  Does it have any unintended consequences, that is, it is counterproductive, and how?
  • Using a sociologically based analysis, make an argument for or against current policy, or for a policy which doesn’t  currently exist (or for no policy), explaining why your solution would better address the problem/issue than the one that is (or isn’t) currently employed.  You can use an argument based on micro-level or macro-level theory and evidence, or a combination of these.  

Class Participation consists of the following factor:

Reports (5%):

Every couple weeks you will be expected to write a brief (1-2 pages) report in which you



react to some ideas discussed in class or in the assigned readings and relate them to a real-life circumstance or experience (not necessarily your own)



read and report on a journal article that relates to ideas or issues discussed in class

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.

Soc 242-01

Grinnell College | Sociology Department
This page last modified August 29, 2001