Deviance and Social Control

Authored by: Gary Jensen

The Routledge Handbook of Deviant Behavior

Print publication date:  June  2011
Online publication date:  April  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415482745
eBook ISBN: 9780203880548
Adobe ISBN: 9781134015580


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The conception of deviance as behavior that violates normative standards governing acceptable and unacceptable conduct in a society was first used by sociologists in the 1950s and has persisted in that form for over fifty years (Best 2004). However, debates about features of that conception began in the 1960s with numerous scholars emphasizing labeling processes and stigmatization as the defining features of the concept rather than the behavioral violation of normative standards per se (Becker 1963; Goffman 1963). By the mid-1960s, some scholars began differentiating between deviant behavior and “social control,” with the latter defined as “reactions to deviance” (Gibbs 1966; Cohen 1966). Although the differentiation between the concept of deviance as behavior and the concept of social control is quite widely accepted, the concept of social control itself is used in diverse ways in the sociological literature. The variable uses of that concept will be specified toward the end of this chapter.

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