Deviant Behavior

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  • Edition: 7th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2008-01-01
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall
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For Junior and Senior courses in Deviance, Social Deviance, and Deviant Behavior found in departments of Sociology, Criminology, and Criminal Justice. This widely-adopted text seeks to understand deviance from the major sociological perspectives and theories of deviance by providing a comprehensive, balanced examination. Real-world examples of deviance are provided throughout to encourage critical thinking about deviant behavior and its impact.

Table of Contents

What is Deviance?
What Is to Be Explained? Two Approaches to Deviance
Explaining Deviant Behavior: Positivist Theories
Constructionist Theories of Deviance
Criminal Behavior
Drug Use as Deviant Behavior
Legal Drugs: The Use of Alcohol and Tobacco
Heterosexual Deviance
Male and Female Homosexuality
Physical Characteristics as Deviance
Cognitive Deviance
Mental Illness
Ideological, Ethical, and Moral Implications of Studying Deviance
Photo Credits
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.


Humans are rule-making and rule-enforcing creatures. Our society, all of the social categories and groups to which we belong, and all of the persons with whom we interact, tell us what to do, how to think, and even how to look. Not all of us are able, or willing, to conform to these rules, however. In other words, in addition to making and enforcing rules, humans are also rule-violatingcreatures: We are naturally rebellious and irrepressible. There is virtually no set of rules that all of us follow. No system of social control is completely successful. All of us violate some of the rules we are told to follow, and some of us violate many of them. This means that some of us are more likely to be on the receiving end of rule making and rule enforcement, while others are more likely to be at the making and enforcement end. Moreover, many social categories and groups in every society compete for dominance; that is, they try to get everyone in the society to follow their set of rules. As a result, all of us are subject to certain kinds of sanctions or punishments, whether formal or informal. In addition, some of us are accused of things we didn't do or don't believe. In other words,deviance and social control are fundamental fixtures of all human existence.These processes of rule making, rule violation, and rule enforcement are very likely the core of human life everywhere. The study of deviance is not an inquiry into marginal, exotic, subterranean activities and people, but an investigation into the human condition. Given the importance of the sociology of deviance, the fact that this field of study has come under attack should be puzzling. Some sociologists don'tlikethe fact that others study deviance in the first place, and proclaim its study out of existence. To address the charge that the field is defunct, I located the contemporary curricula and enrollments in institutions of higher learning around the country (Goode, 2003) and discovered that the charge is completely bogus. The field of the sociology of deviance is flourishing; in most respects, it is as vibrant and vital as it was in its glory days. It is clear that attacks on the field have a political agenda. Advocates of the leftwing perspective (Summer, 1994) seem to believe that the field disrupts the radical agenda, while the ideological right wing (Hendershott, 2002) seems to feel that the field disrupts the conservative agenda. One might be tempted to conclude that, with enemies like these--each side arguing that the field is "dead," but with exactly opposite motives--the field must be doing something right. What these critics object to is the field's foundation stone: relativity. When a political ideology is based on convincing the public that its way of looking at things is the only legitimate way, then any field that argues that reality can legitimately be looked at in a variety of ways is certain to represent a threat. I have made substantial changes in this, the seventh, edition ofDeviant Behavior.Former Chapters 1 and 2 in the sixth edition have been streamlined and merged into the current Chapter 1. Chapter 5, on the methods of studying deviance, is completely new. I have recast Chapter 6 into a discussion of violent crime and have reconceptualized white-collar and corporate crime as a form of organizational deviance, in Chapter 13. Reflecting the declining deviant status of homosexuality, I no longer devote an entire chapter to the subject; instead, it is discussed in a section in Chapter 9, on sexual deviance. Chapter 13, on organizational deviance, is new, as I said, and in fact presents a different way of conceptualizing a variety of seemingly diverse behaviors under a coherent umbrella. (See McCaghy, Capron, and Jameson, 2003, Chapter 7, for a similar conceptualization; those authors do not, however, explain their rationale for the subject's conceptual coherence.) It adds a fourth type of devianc

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