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Date: Wed, 16 Aug
Leah Wrote:

This is in regards to the class discussion on physical child abuse. I am also taking a a course called the Sociology of crime. This is just another thought to throw out there, but the main theme of that class is about how the criminal justice system is actually the cause of crimes such as child abuse. Once a crime is defined as being "wrong" members of society may commit this crime because it now has meaning behind it and is an act of rebellion. So basically by defining crime we are creating crime. It took me a while to grasp that concept but is it possible that if child abuse was not marked and had no consequence and meaning, people may engage less in child abuse?

Sent :  March 22
From :  Logan

I hope we didn't butcher your favorite subject
Techniques of Neutralization

In a study conducted by sociologists Gresham Sykes and David Matza, they found that the group of boys they were studying used various techniques of neutralization to justify their socially deviant actions. This in turn helped establish the five techniques of neutralization deviants’ use in order for them to help deflect societies norms. By using these techniques, deviants still consider themselves as a responsible part of society and that they still conform to societies norms.

1) Denial of Responsibility
This technique involves a person denying any responsibility for their actions. They may view their deviance as an accident or see themselves as victims. “I beat him up because he was pissing me off by calling me names, so he started it,” is a common saying of deviants who choose to deny responsibility.

2) Denial of Injury
Deviants use this technique to convince themselves and their accuser that their deviation was harmless, leading to no real injury. Therefore they believe they are still conforming to society's norms. Their excuse usually comes in the form of "it wasn't wrong because no one got hurt." Good examples of this are when deviants consider vandalism "mischief" or gang fighting "a private quarrel", or driving drunk "done all in good fun" simply because they did not hit anyone.

3) Denial of a victim
One way of trying to resist negative labels that get put on people that are considered deviants is known as "Denial of a victim".

Denial of a victim is where a person or group of people try to deny that their action was wrong because the person or people they did it to deserved it. For example, if a student stole food from the cafeteria he or she could claim that they did it to fight rising tuition costs. Everybody in society has been guilty of Denial of a victim, not just those that law deems deviant.

4) Condemnation of the Condemners

Deviants, to deny that other people had the right to judge their actions in the first place, use this technique of neutralization. They often accuse others as being hypocrites when their actions are being punished. This is one of the ways deviants can challenge the right of others to point fingers. They often say “who are they to accuse me of….”

5) Appealing to higher Loyalties

The final technique is known as appealing to higher loyalties. This was where they said their loyalties to their friends, gang - almost anyone they could think of - was more important than following societies norms. For example, they might say something like "I'm not giving you the name of who I was with when we beat up that guy - he is my friend and I won't betray him." Further still, they might try to make it seem like what they did was natural - "I had to help my friend beat up that guy, or else he would have gotten hurt! Wouldn't you do the same thing?"

Sent :  March 21
From :  Jen S
Hey Dr. Phil
Here is the topic our Cougars covered on friday:

Henslin says, "Norms make social life possible by making behavior predictable." (382) By saying this he makes the primary link between social control and the socialization process. Socialization is an important element/part of social control because social control is a group's way of informally and formally enforcing its norms on society. The way someone, like a child, is socialized is key to the success of these social norms. Attitudes, values, and appropriate behavior are all included in these cultural norms, and developed though the process of socialization. It is easier to maintain control of a society where the people have all been raised to conform to an expected way of conduct, and share the same idea of norms. Without these shared meanings and expectations we develop through enculturation and acculturation, we as humans would not be able to relate to each other, process information, and sort ourselves into specific social arrangements. Such is the case with the feral or isolated child whom society has few mechanisms to control. Also without socialization a society has no basis for knowing when social order breaks down.

Sent : March 21
From :  Jax F

Why is it Important Who Defines a Deviance?

Generally it is the person/s doing the defining that is in control.  They have power and influence over everyone else.  They make or break the rules to serve their interests.  Laws reflect and support the interests of the rich and powerful.  Was Robin Hood a deviant or a early socialist supporter?  He stole from the rich and gave to the poor.  He was branded a common criminal by the wealthy to whom he was a threat.  He was an impediment to their visions of grandeur capitalism.

Is GE held accountable for polluting the environment and spreading cancer to the people who reside close to the power plant?  If anything, I see more GE products on store shelves than any other brand, from telephones, televisions to light switch covers.  Yet, when a protester is outside their plant they are promptly taken away by the police.  Rioters, protesters, environmentalists are labeled deviant because they challenge the status quo of the capitalists, when there is a threat to the elite's power or their resources.  Laws are promoted as normal or routine yet they hide political agendas.  Laws support exploitation.  Laws do not represent fairness.

The exception to this that I have witnessed in the media lately is Martha Stewart's white collar crime of sharing insider stock information.  I believe she is being made an example of because she is a celebrity, but mostly because she is a successful woman.  She isn't a part of the old boys club.  She is expendable because of her femaleness.  I am so completely sure that if this was a high profile man, we would not be hearing about this.

Sent :  March 21
From :  keemo T
Group Presentation from the Lions Group
The Medicalization of Deviation

Social deviance is the term used to describe a violation of the social norms.  Norms, which consists of the rules of behavior that make, ordered societies possible.  Durkheim's’ theory believes that social deviance is inevitable and often inexplicable, the medicalization of social deviance is therefore applied.  This states that deviant behavior is an outward manifestation of internal problems of the mind.  Sociologists, disagree with this stating that deviant behavior is based in social experiences not a product of mental illness.

There are many times in society where it seems that there is no logical social reason why an individual acts the way that they do, and it is very easy to label those actions as symtoms of a sickness.  Medicalization of deviance takes the actions that are considered socially deviant and classifies them as a sickness.  This theory became popular with the works of Sigmund Freud who stated that external symptoms come from internal conflicts as part of this psychoanalysis theory.  Henslin states this also by saying that the medicalization of deviance is a result of the medical profession trying to enforce its definition of “normal” behavior.

There are a number of example that can pinpoint such behaviors in society that is often medicalized, namely: Motives for rape, troubled childhood, serial killers where it is often said that “normal” people do not have the desire to harm or kill another human being.  Other more local for examples specific to Canada or North America. .. Homelessness and depression are the two major ones.  We medicalize these conditions when we see them as products of an unstable mind, but sometimes these are social conditions, and sometimes these conditions themselves can create unstable minds.  Kind of like putting the cart before the horse.

A.D.D. and senility could be two other examples.  A good web site to read up more on this for reference is www.pineforge.com/newman4study/resources/socialcontrol.htm

Sent :  March 19
From :  **LaUrEn R**  Duck Billed Platypus
Hey Dr. Phil-
Attached to the e-mail is our group presentation on law being a tool of oppression.
Take care and have a great weekend!!
Lauren R
--Let your spirit lead you on a path of excitement and fulfillment and know that because you are a determined and talented person any dream that you dream can become a reality.--

Law as a Tool of Oppression

  • Law is made up from the criminal justice system (courts, police, prisons) to deal with people who have been accused of committing crimes. This system has been unfairly designed to represent the interests of the wealthy and powerful (the elite) while neglecting almost entirely the needs and interests of those present in the lower social strata.

  • It is a tool which is used to keep powerful people where they are, therefore they are not descending down the social ladder.

  • For example: In Canada, power is maintained largely by an elite group of white, older, wealthy males for the most part. (Pale, male and stale). This group works carefully to make sure that their group's interests are represented in the Cabinet with respect to the Federal Government.

  • The 'working class’ pose as a threat to the power that the elite control, which is why there are many arrests of those who “step out of line.”

  • The ‘working class’ are unable to overpower the elite as the elite hold almost complete control over the ‘working class.’

  • For example: A service representative will not hold more power than a CEO of a company.

  • The media is controlled by the powerful and wealthy people, therefore they control what is seen by the public eye, which means that they can withhold certain information or make bad news sound good.

  • Crimes committed by the powerful are often left unnoticed because they generally have the money to pay off the people who know their secrets, or hold enough power for them to commit crimes without people noticing it.

  • The enforcement of norms is always about power, however some norms such as informal behavior may come from other sources, but they do not count as much.

  • For example: Chewing gum with your mouth open.

  • All societies are dominated by a group of elite and powerful individuals who need to protect both their integrity and power from those who wish to overthrow them.

  • For example: In Iraq under the rule of Saddam Hussein, many Iraqi’s did not enjoy being under his power, while others did. The U.S has overthrown Hussein’s power, but Hussein’s followers are continuing to try to maintain power.

  • Another example is the events occurring in Haiti at present; the working class is revolting against the oppression of the law system by killing police officers and wanting to rid of their president.

  • Additional problems that show that law is a tool of oppression is as follows:

  • People are arrested for their social class.

  • For example: a street person would more likely be arrested than a wealthy person.

  • Police often have biased reasons for arrest and who they arrest.

  • For example: that person looks like a criminal

  • Laws are directed towards the working class, and the more elite and powerful often get away with many crimes or are exempted from them.

  • For example: bypassing the courts.

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