Guide to the vibrant and

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twentieth century, those sustaining the gay and

lesbian movement, the prostitutes’ rights movement,

the disabilities movement, the movement

to advance fat acceptance, and the movement to

normalize mental illness have sought to destigmatize

the very attributes, identities, and behaviors

that bind them together as a discernible socialpolitical

group. Kitsuse commented on this uniquely

modern trend in a presidential address to

the Society for the Study of Social Problems aptly

titled “Deviance Coming Out All Over: Deviants

and the Politics of Social Problems” (1980). A little

over a decade later, United States senator Daniel

Patrick Moynihan, a sociologist, reiterated the

constructionist theme of the elasticity of social

boundaries between conventional and deviant

behavior and expressed concern about the degree

to which what was once seen as deviant behavior

is now seen as conventional behavior in an article

entiled “Defining Deviancy Down” (1993).

More recently, Joel Best has pointed out in his

history of deviance, Deviance: Career of a Concept

(2004), that labeling theory came under fire from

feminist critics who found labeling theorists

too sympathetic towards those who victimized

women, identity politics that sought to remove

the stigma from certain activities and attributes,

and mainstream sociologists who claimed that

labeling theory was empirically wrong, which

was probably the most damaging of the critiques.

According to Best, as labeling theory became

unpopular, scholars turned to more specialized

studies – such as the study of social problems

and social movements and deviant transactions –

because they allowed the scholars the freedom to

condemn some deviants while celebrating others.

Since the mid-1970s, a number of explanations

for deviance have emerged that do not fit into

the categories of theories described above, precisely

because they are integrated theories. Integrated

theories, by design, draw elements from

normative and reactionist theories at both the

macroscopic and microscopic levels, add new

causal mechanisms to elements drawn from these

theories, and present the synthesis as a new explanatory


Developing integrated theories requires the

scholar to recognize that the elements of one theory

are compatible with another, even though the

theories operate on different levels of abstraction.

Ernest Burgess and Ronald Akers in their article

“A Differential Association–Reinforcement Theory

of Criminal Behavior” (Social Problems, 1966) successfully

combined social learning theory and

Sutherland’s differential association theory. As

Messner and Liska point out in their textbook

Perspectives on Crime and Deviance (1999), Burgess

and Akers did this by recognizing that youths

“hanging out” with delinquent peers and learning

from them (differential association) is merely one

particular type of operant conditioning (learning

theory). A second integrated theory is found in

John Braithwaite’s Crime, Shame and Reintegration

(1989). Braithwaite draws upon elements of structural

strain theory, learning theory, and societal

reactionist theory to argue that the type of shaming

to which rule-breakers are subject is crucial

to producing deviance. Specifically, one type of

shaming – disintegrative shaming – reproduces

deviance; another type of shaming – reintegrative

shaming – reduces the occurrence of subsequent

deviance by providing the opportunity for individuals

to recommit to conventional society. More

recently, in Control Balance: Toward A General Theory

of Deviance (1995), Charles Tittle relies upon elements

from many different theories and the

notion of “control-balance” to develop a new theoretical

framework. In Tittle’s theory, “controlbalance,”

or the ratio of how much a person is

able to control compared to how much the

deviance deviance


individual is controlled (itself a product of social

structures, interaction patterns, and other ecological

variables), explains both conforming and

deviant behavior.

As integrated theories continue to be developed,

so too do general assessments of the status of the

sociological study of deviance. On the one hand,

the sociology of deviance’s book-length obituary

has been written by Colin Sumner (The Sociology of

Deviance: An Obituary, 1994), who accuses the field

of no longer advancing a viable, coherent, and

legitimate body of knowledge. This skepticism

about the future of the field has been affirmed

by others, including Anne Hendershott, who

argues in her book The Politics of Deviance (2002)

that scholars have romanticized deviant behavior;

and by J. Mitchell Miller, Richard Wright, and

David Dannels in their article “Is Deviance

‘Dead?’” (2001). On the other hand, Erich Goode

has pointed out in several articles and in his popular

textbook Deviant Behavior (1994) that practitioners

of the sociology of deviance continue to

teach graduate and undergraduate courses on the

topic across the United States and abroad.

Arguably, Alexander Liazos’s strident critique in

1972 of the sociology of deviance as the impoverished

study of “nuts, sluts, and perverts” has been

overcome by what continues to be a vibrant and

exciting field that remains intimately connected

to larger sociological concerns. Influential scholars

continue to write articles and books that offer

new and improved approaches to the study of

deviance. For example, Charles Tittle and Raymond

Paternoster’s book Social Deviance and Crime:

An Organizational and Theoretical Approach (2000)

calls for an organizational approach to deviance.

In addition, others call for approaches to the

sociology of deviance that integrate normative

and reactionist frameworks and build more flexible

and inclusive definitions of the term deviance

(see Alex Heckert and Druann Maria Heckert’s

article “A New Typology of Deviance: Integrating

Normative and Reactivist Definitions of Deviance,”

Deviant Behavior, 2002). Finally, leading scholars

specializing in deviance, including Jack Katz

and Christopher Williams, have encouraged colleagues

to recognize that engaging in deviance

and crime can be fun and exciting, perhaps even

creative and artistic. As these calls for reform circulate,

the sociological study of deviance continues

to be integrated with other areas of

sociology, most notably criminology, the study of

social stratification, community, queer theory,

moral panics, and social movements.


deviance disavowal

– see deviance.


– see deviance.

deviancy amplification

– see deviance.

deviancy drift

– see deviance.

deviant behavior

– see deviance.

deviant case analysis

Perhaps one of the clearest instances of the differentiation

of quantitative and qualitative

approaches in sociology is the treatment of deviant

cases in a dataset. Anomalous cases in the

quantitative tradition are regarded as sources of

error, bias, or “noise,” tend to be termed “outliers”

and are, if not deleted, “transformed” until

they approach “normality” prior to statistical analysis.

In contrast, in qualitative work, particularly

in the sub-disciplines of ethnomethodology and

conversational analysis (CA), deviant cases are

actively cherished for their potentially crucial

analytic import.

These qualitative approaches, which were originally

inspired by Harold Garfinkel’s Studies in

Ethnomethodology (1967), analyse “breaches” in the

mundane social order in which the exception

may illuminate an otherwise-taken-for-granted,

and hence “invisible,” rule. The analysis of cases/

instances that seem to run counter to established

patterns or theoretical claims has become a canonical

methodological procedure in ethnomethodology

and CA, and in variants of discursive

psychology which draw upon this heritage. The

analysis of deviant cases is designed, then, in

order to get at, in Garfinkel’s terms, the “seenbut-

unnoticed background features” of everyday


Thus, given contemporary ethical constraints

on real-life “breaching experiments,” investigators

will actively search for naturally occurring

breaches of conventionally normative social conduct.

An example can be taken from Alec McHoul

and Mark Rapley’s “Should we make a start then?:

A Strange Case of a (Delayed) Client-Initiated Psychological

Assessment” (2002, Research on Language

and Social Interaction, 35). This case involved the

study of the initiation of a psychological test by

the testee rather than, as would normatively be

deviance deviant case analysis


expected, by the tester. Deviant case analysis may,

alternatively, involve – for example – combing a

dataset of telephone-call openings. Emmanuel

A. Schegloff, in “Sequencing in Conversational

Openings” (1968, American Anthropologist 70),

looked for the single instance (that is deviant

case) out of a collection of 500 in which a social

actor (“member”) broke the putative rule that

“answerer speaks first,” to develop a more sophisticated

theoretical account. Thus, in Schegloff’s

research, the analysis of the deviant case showed

that it did, in fact, lend support to a higher-order

theoretical conception of “summons–answer”

sequences. Similarly, the McHoul and Rapley

study supported the work of Harvey Sacks in his

two-volume Lectures on Conversation (1995). Through

an analysis of the breach of the normative conventions

of membership in asymmetric social categories,

Sacks’s account of the conditions under

which an omni-relevant device for conversation

may be theoretically inferred were, in fact, empirically



dialectical materialism

– see Marxism.


A term originally applied to the experience of a

people dispersed from their original homeland for

long periods, yet who retain cultural memories

and ties, diaspora has gained increasing currency

to describe a host of such peoples in a world in

which movement and flight are common. While

the term was traditionally applied to the stateless

Jewish people, among the most important diaspora

communities today are, ironically, the Palestinians

displaced from their homeland with the

formation of the Jewish state of Israel, thus pitting

two diasporic communities against each other.

The modern world has seen numerous largescale

migrations, forcible and voluntary, from

the African slave trade, to the movement of the

Irish during the potato famine and thereafter.

Today, the experience of the African and Irish

diasporas form important components of the blossoming

field of diaspora studies. Sociologist Paul

Gilroy coined the influential term The Black Atlantic

(1995) to capture the African diaspora experience,

while Irish scholars now use the term “The Green

Atlantic.” Increasingly, with globalization, there

are transnational diaspora communities – including

those fleeing war and poverty – of overseas

migrants and citizens whose resources are

critical to those left in their home countries.

Thus, diaspora communities, from the experience

of Puerto Ricans, Salvadorans, or Latinos as a

whole, are today proliferating. And with the

ascent of East Asia and China in the contemporary

global economy, there has also been increased

attention paid to the (often wealthy) Chinese

diaspora community in East Asian and Chinese

development. THOMAS REI FER

diasporic studies

– see diaspora.

differential association

– see deviance.


The differentiation of tasks in society – or the

division of labor – is a central focus of sociology.

Sociologists have studied the effects of increasing

specialization and complexity and have classified

societies in terms of the nature and level of


During the Scottish Enlightenment, writers like

Adam Ferguson (1723–1816) and John Millar

(1735–1801) distinguished four sociologically distinct

stages of society: hunters and gatherers;

shepherd or pastoral society; husbandmen or agricultural

society; and commercial society. Karl

Marx’s materialist theory of history represents

social development in terms of successive modes

of production. Marx introduces the idea that

social differentiation is associated with inequality

and that conflict among social classes is one of

the principal motors of social change.

Functionalism provides an alternative account

of differentiation, concerned with the problem of

interdependence among the parts of a differentiated

system. E´mile Durkheim set out a model

of types of societies from elementary to more

complex types. The two poles of this continuum

were respectively characterized by mechanical

and organic forms of solidarity. Talcott Parsons

expanded this scheme with a full theory of structural

differentiation, where the four functional

imperatives that all societies must meet allows a

classification of societies in terms of the degree of

institutional specialization around each of the

functions these four functions were called the

pattern variables, relating to the economy, polity,

value system, and motivation that all societies

must satisfy.

Many sociologists became suspicious of the

emphasis on linear development and the teleological

implications of both Marxian and functionalist

approaches. Feminist theory criticized each

dialectical materialism differentiation


approach for the neglect of the sexual division

of labor and the role of gender inequalities in

capitalist modernity. Postmodern sociologists

have emphasized the possibility of dedifferentiation

as well as forms of hyperdifferentiation.


digital divide

As the internet has grown in scope and usefulness,

so too has concern about equitable access to its

services and benefits, especially to information.

The term digital divide is a catch-all phrase to

cover many perspectives addressing equity issues

in terms of the way mediated electronic communication

and information resources are available

to, or used by, various groups. The emphasis is on

disparities among groups.

An early digital-divide concern, which came to

particular prominence in the late 1980s, was over

computer access. Computer access was seen as

being mal-distributed along gender lines. Some

felt that, since males were by far the heaviest

users, aggressive intervention programs were

needed to boost female participation. Although

varied programs were launched to interest girls

in careers in computer science, little appear to

have been accomplished. A similar concern

regarding gender was expressed in the early era

of the internet, when males were heavy adopters.

However, over time, advancing ease of use and

engaging content alone appear to have solved

this “divide” as women have become as heavily

involved in online activities as men. While there

is some variation, such as women appearing to be

more interested in online social interaction than

are men, this dimension of concern over a possible

digital divide has largely disappeared.

Yet gender is but one of a series of other possible

digital divides reflecting various inequities. These

would include mal-distributions along lines of

geographic, racial/ethnic, economic, institutional,

age, educational, religious, and handicapped status.

In many ways, there appears to be little about

these “divides” that is uniquely digital. The very

factors that might create a digital divide have

already acted to create other opportunity divides.

For instance, digital-divide concerns along international

dimensions is actually a subset of the

already existing inequality between “rich nations”

and “poor nations.” Also, from a practical viewpoint,

conceptual distinctions in access to digital

resources are multiple and overlapping. At the

same time, there are some interesting ways that

the politics of the issue play out. While there is

broad public concern over inequitable access to

internet resources, similar inequalities in access

to mobile communication resources command little

attention. This is true despite the fact that it

may be that mobile communication resources are

more important economically to those on the

margins of the global system than to those at the


In terms of geographic digital divides, there are

stubborn problems of unequal distribution of

information and other resources, with rural and

less densely populated areas not keeping up with

their urban counterparts. In addition, poorer

areas tend to be less well-served with information

and other resources. Much has been made of perceived

racial/ethnic inequalities, and these concerns

are frequently accompanied by far-reaching

program proposals. While it is true that certain

racial/ethnic minorities are underrepresented in

the online world, it is equally true that others are

“overrepresented.” Interestingly, when educational

achievement is considered, it is generally

the case that the racial/ethnic divide disappears.

Put differently, people with low education are the

ones who have low participation rates, rather than

there being something unique or disinclining

about their cultural characteristics that prevent

members of that culture from using the internet.

There are enormous differences internationally

among usage levels of the internet. These also

seem to be a result of international inequalities

of income and productivity, as well as local telecommunication

pricing policies. Although the

internet was seen originally as a solution to the

gap between the rich and poor countries, it now

appears that many international aid bodies feel

that efforts are no longer necessary to try to wire

the less-developed countries. As J. Katz and R. Rice

show in Social Consequences of Internet Use (2002),

mobile communication, especially via cell phones,

is seen as an avenue for economic progress in

developing countries. J AMES E. KATZ

diploma disease

– see credentialism.

disability and impairment

Both terms, which are culturally specific and contested,

are used to designate a particular relationship

of the individual to bodily norms and to

society in general. Disability has different meanings

in different cultures, and in many western

countries legislative definitions of disability have

become increasingly complex, because they result

in the provision of rehabilitation services or

welfare payments to disabled people. Indeed, the

digital divide disability and impairment


definitions adopted by western governments have

changed so often that one can argue that disability

is basically defined by public policy, and therefore

disability is socially produced by policy decisions.

In the traditional medical literature, impairment

is defined as the inability of a physiological

or body system to perform the function for which

it was designed. A functional loss occurs when an

impairment limits a person’s ability to perform

basic functional activities like climbing stairs,

running, or jumping. Disability is present when

the functional loss limits a person’s ability to

ambulate, do daily self-care activities, perform

the duties of a parent, work and function in


Scholars in the United States and United Kingdom

objected to this “medicalized” view of disability

because it focused on individual limitations

and deficiencies, not on the larger environment.

In the British version of the social model of disability,

impairment is the term used to refer to

medical conditions, or differences from normal

bodily or cognitive functioning, and disability

refers to the social reactions to impairment, particularly

experiences of discrimination, oppression,

social exclusion, and marginalization.

Today, it is evident that disability cannot be

simply reduced to a medical or biological definition

nor located entirely in the environment.

From an ecological perspective, disability is

defined not only by the biology of the injury or

disease, but more significantly by the interaction

between biology and an individual’s physical,

social, economic, and political environment, as

well as by the demands of the person’s physical,

social, and occupational activities. Disability is a

physical condition and social experience that is

not necessarily permanent and can be modified,

if its determinants can be altered.

Dealing with impairment can be a very difficult

experience, because it often involves admitting

vulnerabilities, revealing intimate or private bodily

details, and dealing with unexpected biographical

disruptions. Every impairment has its own

unique features, but there are four important factors

affecting the way an individual responds to

their impairments: the age at which a person

acquires impairment, the visibility of the impairment,

the degree to which others comprehend the

impairment, and the influence of illness. The

social acceptability of the impairment is also

important – some types of impairment are far

more stigmatized than others.

This distinction between impairment and disability,

which is at the heart of the social model

of disability, is valuable because it emphasizes the

need to remove the barriers, discrimination, negative

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