Lecture _9, Part I.doc - SOC 101 Principles of Sociology...

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SOC 101 - Principles of Sociology Lecture Notes #9 - Part I Conformity, Deviance, Social Control and Crime 1) Introduction. Conformity and deviance are perceived as two sides of the same coin (i.e., we cannot talk about conformity without taking about deviance and the reverse is true). Conformity is behavior or actions that is universally accepted, approved or expected within a given society. Norms guiding behavior or actions ensure conformity. Such norms are transmitted during socialization. Deviance or deviant behavior is behavior that violates accepted standards or norms of society. Deviant behavior is behavior that is usually disapproved of by the majority of the people in a group, community or society. Acceptable or unacceptable forms of behavior (i.e., what is wrong or right) in society is defined by powerful social groups or social classes, (see later under Labeling Theory of Deviance ). Definitions of what is acceptable or unacceptable behavior vary from one society to another or within the same society over time. Hence, deviance is considered "relative" in both cases. Social controls are tools or mechanism for enforcing the norms or rules of a given society. Social controls ensure social conformity. 2) Social controls may be either internal (i.e., informal) or external (i.e., formal). Informal/internal social controls are exercised by "significant others" (such as parents, guardians, role models or the peer group). Informal social controls are achieved through effective socialization which induces self-discipline or self- control of one's behavior or actions. The most powerful (i.e., both effective and inexpensive) form of social control is on brought about through socialization. 1
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However, because internal controls fail, there is need for external agents of social control. Formal or external agents of social control include institutions or structures of people or individuals in roles directed to the enforcement of norms or laws of a society (e.g., police, judges or courts of law). Formal control systems can be either repressive or restrained. In societies with repressive control systems, control agents have "extraordinary powers" to detect and restrain or prevent a wide range of behaviors considered wrong or unacceptable. This is common in totalitarian or authoritarian societies or regimes. In societies with restrained (or regulated) control systems (such as in democratic societies), control agents have less power to detect and prevent or punish violators of norms or laws. This is due to legal protections (such as the Bill of Rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution) for personal privacy and individual rights and tolerance of non-conformity (despite efforts of moral entrepreneurs). Moral entrepreneurs are powerful social interest groups that define what is
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Lecture _9, Part I.doc - SOC 101 Principles of Sociology...

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