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Constructionist Approaches to Deviance

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What is deviance? How do constructionist approaches explain it? Include the themes, ethical/moral issues and central concepts of Constructionism, such as:

1. Social Construction of Moral Meaning and Definitions
2. Relativity
3. Social Control
4. The Political Equation - The Processes of Criminalization
5. Contingency

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Solution Summary

This solution defines the concept of deviance, and specifically how the constructionist approaches explain it. Specifically, it explains the main focus, themes and concepts associated with Constructionist approaches to deviance.

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1. What is deviance? How do constructionist approaches explain it?

Constructionist Approaches to Deviance (from Goode, 6th, 2001, and 7th, 2005; chapter 2 and 3)

Unlike Essentialists, the relevant issue for Constructionists is not why some people "do it", but why and under what conditions "it"- whatever it is- tends to be is condemned. So, the wrongness is not assumed, indeed its wrongness is what needs to be explained.

Constructionist Focus On:

1. Creation of Deviant Categories

How is human behavior assembled into identifiable categories? Why do members of a society select these as real and worthy of attention (i..e., homosexuality in prison), while ignoring others that are equally real (i.e., corporate crime like cutting costs for safety and killing thousands of workers), but seemingly unworthy of serious attention?

Categories do not fall ready made from the sky, they have to be noticed and made a part of a society's cultural lore. For example, when society decided that alcohol was poison, prohibition occurred through a democratic process and the majority of the people voted for the banning of alcohol. Alcohol was labelled as "poison" and those who drank or sold it were labelled 'deviant" and possibly "criminals" if convicted of a felony (i.e., bootlegging). Thus, the constructionist would be looking at the social trends that lead people to define alcohol as "poison" and the people who labelled those who drank or sold alcohol as "deviant" "criminal" and "bootleggers" if they used or sold alcohol.

2. Investigation of condemnation

Why do certain rules exist?

How does a general category become defined as wrong, a ...

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