Theories of Deviance: Chicago School: Introduction and Thinkers

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  • Ecological School or Chicago School
  • Social environment makes one deviant
  • Criminology
  • Urban sociology
  • Symbolic Interactionist
  • Addresses Contemporary social problems
  • Whereas a structural functionalist perspective says deviance can also be positive and not always negative as it can bring social change.


Edwin Sutherland

  • Differential association
  • Individual associates with a group which has different values that the society

David Miller

  • Lower class feels inferior when they interact with mainstream society
  • Withdraw and join different group
  • New group gives different values

Cloward and Ohlin

  • Illegitimate opportunities
  • Individual cannot keep up with rapid changes of society
  • Juvenile
  • Inspired from Merton՚s strain theory

So, they associate with:

  • Criminal sub-culture like gangs
  • Conflictic sub-culture like revolutionaries
  • Retreatist sub-culture like Saints

David Matza

  • Book: Delinquency and Drift
  • Deviant culture in middle class
  • Pleasure
  • E. g. Public smoking, eve teasing
  • Role of family

Three reasons:

  • Affinity – friendship with higher class people
  • Affiliation – friendship with gangsters
  • Significance – to get recognition

William Isaac Thomas

Book: The Polish Peasant

Three types of personality:

  • Philistine – adheres to rules, no new elements, accepts social tradition
  • Bohemian – rule breakers
  • Creative – choose to act according to situations, organized, inventive

Robert Junior

  • Over-conformity is deviance
  • Uncritical acceptance of rules
  • E. g. Overeating Anorexia

Stuart Palmer

  • Book: Psychology of Murderers
  • Studied life of criminals
  • Case history
  • Deprivation
  • Bias – siblings preferred

W. G. Sumner

  • Survival of unfit test
  • Paradox
  • Everyday norms violated
  • The best cannot survive in society due to some situations
  • E. g. Bandit Queen

Howard Becker

  • Labelling theory
  • Society labels things as Acceptable or non-acceptable
  • Symbols, actions, and reactions.
  • Who applies what label to whom, why and what happens as a result of this labelling?
  • E. g. Drug addicts, alcoholics, retards
  • Low self-image
Low Self Image

Walter Reckless

Control theory:

  • Internal – “Be a good person”
  • External – Police, Law

Travis Hirschi - These restraints form a person՚s self-control

Children who lack this self-control may grow up to become deviants

Self Control


Q. 1. (A) : In order to be eligible for a sport an athlete must be in his best shape.

(R) : The athlete stopped eating and started on unnatural supplements to achieve his goal weight.

Choose the option that best describes over-conformity.

a) Both A and R are true, and R is the correct explanation of A.

b) Both A and R are true, but R is not the correct explanation of A.

c) A is false and R is not the correct explanation of A.

d) A is true but R is the correct explanation of A.

e) Both A and R are false.

Ans: d

Q. 2. Failure to meet expected norms leads to deviance. When M. K. Gandhi refused to adhere to norms of the first-class whites only seats in train and challenged apartheid what was it?

a) A deviance that brought social change

b) Over-conformity

c) Deviance that called for punishment

d) External control

Ans: a





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