Lecture: Some points on the Sociological Imagination and Definitions of Deviance

Week 2 Lecture: Some points on the

Sociological Imagination and Definitions of

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Deviance

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The Sociological Imagination • C. Wright Mills

• Sociological Imagination: A quality of the mind that allows us to understand the relationship between our particular situation in life and what is happening at a social level

• “Intersection between biography and history” (and social structure) • Mills says, “To understand social life, we must

understand the intersection between biography and history.” • How individuals understand their own and others’

past in relation to history and social structure • Helps us connect personal troubles to structure

and change

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Are these Actions deviant? • Using marijuana • Picking you nose • Using your phone while driving • Drinking alcohol under age 21 • Wearing a hat indoors • Using an online dating application • Speeding • Watching pornography

• Maybe – Becker says it depends on who views it and how they react

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What is Deviance?

• Deviance is a behavior, trait, or belief that departs from a norm and generates a negative reaction in a particular group or setting. • Defining something as deviant

requires us to examine group or contextual norms and how groups react to behaviors

• Folkways: • Mores:

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What is Deviance?

• Deviance is a behavior, trait, or belief that departs from a norm and generates a negative reaction in a particular group or setting. • Defining something as deviant requires us

to examine group or contextual norms and how groups react to behaviors

• Folkways: less serious (e.g., holding a door open for someone, maintaining eye contact in a conversation, wearing a seatbelt)

• Mores: more serious (e.g., driving drunk, homicide)

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Relativistic view on deviance • Again, deviance is just a departure from norms • Sociologists take a relative (not an absolute) view of

deviance • Variability:

• Culture • Historical period • Age • Social status • Location, situation, timing (i.e., context) è Example • Note, deviance is not based on rarity

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