Societal and Situational Deviance

Societal and Situational Deviance - Societal and...

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Societal and Situational Deviance The above represents an opportunity to briefly consider what Plummer has argued is the difference between societal (that is, society-wide) and situational (that is, localised) deviance, since this distinction helps to reinforce the idea that behaviour considered deviant in one situation may be considered non-deviant in another. By “societal deviance” Plummer means the various categories of behaviour that are either illegal or which are “commonly sensed” by people to be deviant (such as swearing at your teacher). “Situational deviance”, on the other hand, refers to the way different sub-cultural (or situational) groups develop norms of behaviour that may be at odds with those of “society as a whole”. In such situations, behaviour that might be considered societally deviant (theft, homosexuality and so forth) may be perfectly acceptable. To illustrate this distinction more clearly, consider the following example: In our society, killing someone is considered deviant. To not go around killing people is, therefore, non-deviant. However, for a soldier, fighting in a war, the reverse is true. To not kill the enemy is considered deviant. Thus, in the latter situation the basic values and norms of “society” are inverted by the demands of the “situation”. Culpable and Non-Culpable Deviance A further distinction we can between different types of deviant behaviour is one that recognises the idea that there is a qualitative difference between people who commit deviant acts consciously (and with a full understanding of the fact they are behaving deviantly) and those whose deviant behaviour may, for example, be accidental or no fault of their own. Culpable deviance refers to acts for which the individual perpetrator can be held personally accountable. They are, in short, acts of deviance committed by people in the knowledge that such acts are deviant. Examples here might include crimes such as murder, theft or violence, as well as a wide variety of non-criminal deviance.
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Non-culpable deviance , on the other hand, refers to acts for which the individual perpetrator is not held personally accountable. Examples of this type of non-culpable deviant behaviour might include deviant acts committed by: 1. People classified as “mentally ill”. In our society we recognise that the “mentally-ill” (however this is defined) cannot be held culpable for deviant actions since they are not considered to understand the values and norms of “normal” society. This, in effect, means that the mentally-ill are not punished, as such, for their deviance, although they may be required to undergo treatment for their “illness”. 2. Children. In our society. for example, the age of criminal responsibility varies for
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This note was uploaded on 01/17/2012 for the course SCIE SYG2000 taught by Professor Bernhardt during the Fall '10 term at Broward College.

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Societal and Situational Deviance - Societal and...

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