What are the norms that determine what is considered deviant?

Discussion 1

Framing Deviance

For this discussion, refer to the Deseran and Chung reading, “Appearance, Role-Taking, and Reactions to Deviance: Some Experimental Findings” (link in the Resources area).

Sociologists argue that deviance that is socially constructed and our understanding of what is deviance can vary from situation to situation. Address the following questions based on your review of Deseran and Chung:

  • How does our understanding of deviance differ by group (for example, between children and adults or people of different races)?
  • What are the norms that determine what is considered deviant?
  • Can you identify any deviant acts that may be considered deviant for one group but not for another? Why is this the case?
  • How would a sociologist explain the different experiences (in terms of deviance) different groups have with deviance?
  • Can you think of any similar examples in your everyday life?

Discussion 2

The Policy Implications of Incarceration

The incarceration rate in the United States has seen a rapid increase in recent periods. As a result, the United States has the largest number of prisoners than any other nation. Our understanding of deviance and this increase in incarceration rates has significant policy implications. Respond to the following:

  • From a sociological perspective, what factors have contributed to this increase in incarceration?
  • What alternative forms of punishment could you suggest?
  • What can the United States do to address the increase in incarceration rates?
  • How might this affect how we understand or define criminal acts?
  • Introduce and discuss the policy (or policies) you discovered in your earlier research on crime and deviance in this unit.

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