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    Understanding Deviance and Socialization

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    1. Discuss and illustrate the four types of nonconforming behavior presented by Robert Merton in his theory of deviance.

    2. Describe Edwin Sutherland's approach to deviance, which draws upon the interactionist perspective. In what ways does Edwin Sutherland's approach to criminology draw upon the significance of the socialization process?

    3. Explain the routine activities theory and indicate why proponents believe that it is a useful theory for explaining the increase in crime during the last 50 years.

    4. Briefly explain the basic ideas of labeling theory. Explain how labeling theory draws on the work of both conflict theorists and interactionists. Distinguish among labeling theory, the societal-reaction approach, and the social constructionist perspective.

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    Solution Preview

    1. Discuss and illustrate the four types of nonconforming behaviour presented by Robert Merton in his theory of deviance.

    Merton explained that people with either conform to the opportunities and goals that are defined by society or they would engage in four types of deviance.

    These are sociological assumptions about human nature.

    Merton's deviance typology (or individual adaptations to environmental pressures) is described as follows:

    Type of Adaptation:

    1. Conformity: This is a non-deviant adaptation. With respect to cultural goals of society, this person is accepted because s/he engages in legitimate occupational and educational roles. This person strives for material success by following institutional means.

    The following types of adaptation would fall within the category of "nonconforming behaviour":
    2. Innovation: This type of person would accept that s/he must gain material success (acceptance of cultural goals) but is against doing it through legitimate institutional means (i.e. through legitimate employment). This person would obtain economic success through criminal or delinquent roles.

    Merton attributes the innovator to lower class citizens where their access to legitimate means of obtaining economic success is limited.

    3. Ritualism (or Acceptance): This person is an overconformist. The cultural goal of economic success is not important, rejected all together, or abandoned. What is most important to this individual is his/her conformity to institutional norms which this person believes is an end in itself.

    Merton attributes the ritualist to the lower middle-class where there are socialization practices that exercise strict discipline and rigid conformity to rules. (This type has been critiqued because there is still conformity to rules).

    4. Retreatism: The retreatist rejects both ...

    Solution Summary

    This solution will provide the student with an understanding of how deviance correlates with the socialization process. It will also explain about Robert Merton's deviance typology and Routine Activity Theory.

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