the road rather than the left. Note how norms, like values, can vary from one culture to another and from one group to another. Values and norms serve as a script for how to behave, and they enable us, to an extent, to predict how others will behave and to coordinate our behavior with theirs. Thus, values and norms lend stability and orderliness to society. A basic tenet of the sociological view of society is that people live in a socially created reality in which their behavior is shaped by social objects, such as values and norms, as much as by physical objects. However, people do not always behave in conformity with accepted values and norms. Behaviors or characteristics that violate important group norms and asa consequence are reacted to with social disapproval are calleddeviance. oLaypeople often approach deviant or unconventional behaviors inan ab solute way, judging them to be good or bad, right or wrong, by comparing them with some fixed standards, such as some religious teachings. oSociologists view deviance as relative or based on the social definitions of some group.
oFor sociologists, it is not behaviors or characteristics in themselves that are deviant. Rather, it is the judgements of some group whose norms have been violated that make a behavior unconventional or deviant. oThis makes deviance relative in the sense that a behavior is deviant only when so defined by some group. oDeviance can be understood only within the context of the normsand values of a particular culture, subculture, or group. As one sociologist put it: “Deviance, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder” (Simmons, 1969:4). Deviance does not refer only to the violation of group norms; some stigma, or mark of disgrace, must also be attached to the violation thatsets the deviant person apart from others. Beyond values and norms, another important element of society is social institutions: relatively stable clusters of social relationships that involve people working together to meet some basic needs of society. oThe family, for example, is a social institution ensuring that children will be born and raised properly to be contributing members of society. A subculture is a group within a culture that shares some of the beliefs, values, and norms of the larger culture but also has some that are distinctly its own. oTeenagers, Cubans in Miami, gays in most large cities, skinheads,drug addicts, prison inmates, hip-hop youth of the 1990’s, even the few hippies left over from the 60’s. Ethnocentrism, the tendency to view one’s own culture or subcultureas the best and to judge other cultures or subcultures in comparison toit. Power is the ability of one group to realize its will, even in the face of resistance from other groups. Authority refers to legitimate power that is obeyed because people believe it is right and proper that they obey. The Sociological ImaginationSociological imagination to refer to the ability to understand the relationship between what is happening in people’s personal lives and the social forces that surround them.
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