Office: Krebs 104-b office Hours: Tues. & Thurs: 10: 00-11: 00 and 12: 30-2: 00; Wed: 5: 00-6: 00 and my appointment Office Phone

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Spring 2013

Deviance & Social Control

SOC 0710-4010

Tuesday & Thursday 2:00-3:20

Instructor: Ross Kleinstuber, Ph.D.

Office: Krebs 104-B

Office Hours: Tues. & Thurs: 10:00-11:00 and 12:30-2:00; Wed: 5:00-6:00 and my appointment

Office Phone: 269-2989

**NOTE** This course will utilize CourseWeb ( for announcements, assignments, additional readings, and other materials pertinent to the course. You are expected to be familiar with CourseWeb and to check it regularly. If you have any questions about using CourseWeb, please see me.
Required Text: Thio, Alex. 2013. Deviant Behavior 11th edition. New York: Pearson.
This textbook is available as an e-reader at
*Other readings will be assigned throughout the course and placed on CourseWeb; please check CourseWeb regularly.

Course Description

This course is designed as an overview of the sociological study of deviance. Its purpose is to demonstrate the complexity in defining deviance, the role society plays in assigning the deviant label, the applicability of different theories of explaining deviance, and the social control systems that have been created to respond to deviance.

Course Expectations

Deviance inherently deals with many controversial issues. To get a fuller understanding and appreciation for these issues, class attendance and participation are essential. Classes will be conducted using a combination of lecture and, when appropriate, class discussions. You are expected to have read and thought about the assigned readings prior to the class for which they are assigned. This will facilitate discussion and make learning easier; much of what you learn in this class will come from your interactions with fellow students. Therefore, you will be expected to participate and to interact with your classmates. Remember, there are no wrong opinions, as long as they can be defended. When participating in class, you are expected to respect your classmates at all times. Derogatory, racist, sexist, and other offensive or insulting remarks or comments will not be tolerated; when someone else is speaking, you are expected to listen and wait until he or she is done before responding. Because of the discussion-based nature of many classes, you are expected to attend class; many exam questions will come directly from class discussions.

Course Grading

Your grade in this course will be based out of 400 points, broken down as follows:
3 Exams (100 points each): 300 points

2 Reaction papers (25 points each): 50 points

Term paper: 50 points
Grades will be calculated based on total points accumulated as follows:
370-400 = A 346-357 = B+ 306-317 = C+ 266-277 = D+ <238=F

358-369.5 = A- 330-345.5 = B 290-305.5 = C 250-265.5 = D

318-329.5 = B- 278-289.5 = C- 238-249.5 = D-
Note on Disabilities

If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact both your instructor and the Office of Health & Wellness Services, G10 Student Union, (814) 269-7119 or (814) 269-7186 as early as possible in the therm. The office of Health & Wellness Services will verify your disability and determine reasonable accommodations for this course.

Academic Dishonesty

Students are expected to be familiar with the Pitt-Johnstown Guidelines on Academic Integrity and abide by them. Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Anyone caught plagiarizing, cheating, or helping anyone do so will be referred to the appropriate university authorities and, at the very least, receive a 0 on the assignment. Additional penalties may apply depending on the nature of the incident.
The Guidelines on Academic Integrity forbid students from presenting “as one’s own, for academic evaluation, the ideas, representations, or words of another person or persons without customary and proper acknowledgment of sources.” Plagiarism is dishonest and illegal. Writers are indebted to authors from whom they borrow exact words, ideas, theories, opinions, statistics, illustrative material, or facts (beyond common knowledge). Writers are also indebted if they summarize or paraphrase in their own words material from sources. All quoted material requires the acknowledgement of the source by the use of quotation marks or indentation (if exact wording is incorporated). In addition, both directly quoted and summarized material must be acknowledged by use of a note or parenthetical citation that indicates the author and/or date of publication and page number or numbers. If the writer indents a quotation, it must be clearly set off from the body of the text and must be documented in the aforesaid manner. Students are permitted to use any professionally recognized citation style, but to verify the various documentation procedures, writers should consult the style sheet for the particular citation format they are using (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.). (Note: Language of this paragraph was adapted from both the Pitt-Johnstown Guidelines on Academic Integrity and the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Academic Integrity Policy.)
Cell Phones

You are expected to turn off your cell phones before coming to class. You can survive 80 minutes without your friends. I reserve the right to answer any cell phone that rings during class or to complete any text message I catch you typing during class. Remember, you are expected to be respectful at all times. Interruptions during class, whether they are from cell phones or unnecessary conversations, are disrespectful. Failure to respect your classmates and the instructor may result in being asked to leave.

Exams and Make-up Exams

Exams are expected to be completed in class and may only be made up with documentation of an approved excused absence; please consult the university policy for more information. If you miss an exam due to either an emergency or an excused absence, you are expected to contact the instructor within 48 hours or as soon as reasonably possible. Barring extreme extenuating circumstances, failure to contact the instructor within 48 hours with an approved excuse and to schedule a make-up will result in a grade of 0 for the exam. Make-up exams will be given in a format to be determined by the instructor.

Reaction Papers

The reaction papers are an opportunity for you to explain what you think about a particular topic and why. You are expected to answer the questions presented, but in doing so, you are expected to defend your position, to anticipate potential counter-arguments, and to refute them. Although you are expected to answer the questions presented in the assignment, the most important part of the assignment is that you offer evidence to support and defend your position and that you anticipate and refute potential counter-arguments. Think of yourself as a lawyer who has to argue a certain position to a judge. You do not just say what you think, but you offer reasons for why you are right and reasons why the other lawyer is wrong. I will be reading all papers with a critical eye, so it is important that you clearly explain your positions, offer evidence to support them, and write coherently and in a well organized manner. You should be trying to convince me that you are right. More details and grading rubrics for each reaction paper will be made available on CourseWeb.

All reaction papers will be graded out of 25 points. Throughout this course, there will be EIGHT (8) reaction papers assigned (as designated below). You must choose TWO (2) topics that interest you and write a reaction essay. More details on each paper will be made available on CourseWeb closer to the due date. All reaction papers will be due before the start of class on the due dates indicated below and MUST be submitted through CourseWeb.
Reaction Paper Topics and Approximate Due Dates

Note: Neither topics nor due dates are set in stone and are subject to change at the instructor’s discretion. Please consult CourseWeb for details on the papers. Remember, you must select TWO topics on which to write a paper.

  1. How would Kai Erikson explain the functions of the lottery depicted in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”? Which character(s) is/are deviant in “The Lottery”? What did he/she/they do that was deviant? Which paradigm—positivist or constructionist—is best for understanding this deviance? Justify your answers. (DUE: Jan. 17)

  2. Of all the theories of deviance discussed in this course (strain, control, deterrence, labeling, etc.), which one best explains the causes or origins of deviance or the appropriate method of preventing or dealing with deviance (depending on the goal of the theory)? Why did you pick this theory over the others? What are the weaknesses of the other theories that the theory you chose addresses or what are the strengths of the theory you chose relative to the competing theories? (DUE: Jan. 31)

  3. You have been assigned to a committee to investigate changing our nation’s gun laws with the intent of reducing crime and making Americans safer. What proposals would you make and why? What evidence supports your position? Why do you think your proposal will reduce crime? Will there be any other side effects or costs of your proposal? What are the arguments AGAINST your suggestion and why do you reject them? (DUE: Feb. 12)

  4. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of Durkheim’s Theory of Suicide. Do you think Durkheim provides a sufficient explanation for suicide? Why or why not? What, if anything, does he miss? What, if anything, does he get right? What, if anything, would you change about, remove from, or add to his theory? If you choose to make no changes, you must explain why you rejected competing explanations. (DUE: Feb. 26)

  5. React to and critically evaluate what you saw in the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in light of what you read and learned about mental illness for this class. (DUE: March 19)

  6. React to and critically evaluate what you saw in the “Hate Crimes” episode of Homicide in light of what you read and learned about homosexuality and violent crime for this class. (DUE: April 2)

  7. Using what you have learned about drugs in this course plus what you know from other sources, you are to make a policy recommendation regarding the legalization of drugs and to defend this policy. This recommendation MAY include leaving current policies intact, it may include a complete revamping of drug policies, or it may leave some portions of current policy intact while discarding others. (DUE: April 9)

  8. Should the legal drinking age be altered? If so, what should it be and why? If not, why should it remain 21? (Note: consider all possible options, from no drinking age whatsoever to complete Prohibition.) (DUE: April 16)

Term Paper

The term paper will be due on before the start of class on Thursday, April 4 and MUST be submitted via CourseWeb. For the term paper, you are to choose a topic related to deviance or social control that WE ARE NOT COVERING IN THIS COURSE that you believe should be included in a course on deviant behavior and social control, and write a paper arguing for why you believe the topic should be covered in this course.

You may choose a topic from your textbook that we did not cover or you may choose a topic not covered in the textbook. The choice is yours. After receiving approval from the instructor, you are to research your topic fully and write a 5-7 page paper on the topic of your choice. The paper should be double-spaced, in 12-point font, with standard margins. You are to cite at least three scholarly sources published since 2000. Wikipedia and other non-academic sources will not be accepted. In certain exceptional circumstances—for example, a paper on Internet deviance discussing faulty information posted on Wikipedia or discussing newspaper accounts of deviant acts—you may cite non-acadmic sources in addition to your three scholarly sources but ONLY IF YOU FIRST RECEIVE APPROVAL FROM THE INSTRUCTOR! You may use any citation style you want. Papers with fewer than three scholarly sources will not be graded. You must have your topic AND your sources approved by the instructor no later than March 7.
Every paper needs to provide an overview of the topic, discuss the existing scholarly knowledge on the topic (such as the social patterns and prevailing theories), and discuss any controversies or disagreements surrounding the topic. However, the major thrust of your paper should be making a convincing case for including the topic in an undergraduate course on deviance and social control. You should feel free to take whatever avenue you wish with your argument. You can argue that it is a pressing social issue and should be discussed, that students would find the topic interesting, that there are parallels to the other topics we discussed, that the topic is a good example of how theories of deviance do (or do not) explain deviant behavior well, or whatever rationale you want. However, you MUST provide a compelling reason to include the topic, which should be included in your thesis statement, you must offer evidence to support your rationale, and you must anticipate and refute counter-arguments.
Paper Submission & Late Paper Policy

All writing assignments MUST be submitted through CourseWeb. To submit a paper via CourseWeb, once you are in the page for this course, select “Assignments” on the left side. Once there, click on the heading of the assignment you are submitting, and this will take you to the submission portal. From the submission portal, you have the option of either uploading your paper (please use only .doc, .docx, or .pdf formats) or typing your paper in the box provided. Either method is acceptable. Once you have uploaded your file or entered your text, click “Submit,” review your submission, then click “OK.” If you do not click “OK,” the paper will not be submitted.

All papers will be due before the start of class on the due dates indicated. Students are expected to make every effort to submit papers on time. You are expected to begin your work early and back up your work. Considering all work will be handed in via the Internet, there are very few legitimate reasons for not completing assignments on time. If you know you will not be in class, you can still submit your paper through CourseWeb. Barring EXTREME extenuating circumstances or a documented excused absence, all late papers will lose one letter grade (2.5 points for the reaction papers and 5 points for the term paper) for each day or part of a day that they are late. In other words, papers submitted one minute late up to 24 hours late will lose 2.5 points; papers submitted 24 hours and 1 minute late up to 48 hours late will lose 5 points, and so on. No papers will be accepted more than FIVE days late (again, barring EXTREME extenuating circumstances).
Remember, you are expected to do YOUR OWN work on these reaction papers and to properly cite ALL sources you use. Plagiarizing papers by misrepresenting or passing off the ideas, words, formulas, or data of another as one’s own is UNACCEPTABLE and will be dealt with harshly. Please refer to the “Academic Honesty” section above.

Course Schedule

*Please note: this schedule is tentative and subject to change at the instructor’s discretion.




Jan. 8

Introduction to the course

Distribution of syllabus

Getting to know each other

What is deviant behavior?

Positivism vs. Constructionism

Jan. 10


Chapter 1

Erikson, “On the Sociology of Deviance”

Jackson, “The Lottery”

Jan. 15-17

Positivist Theories

Techniques of Neutralization

Chapter 2

Sykes & Matza, “Techniques of Neutralization”

Jan. 22-24

Constructionist Theories

Chapter 3

Jan. 29


Jan. 31-Feb. 5

Physical violence

Chapter 4

Beckett & Sasson, pp. 30-32

Feb. 7-12

Sexual violence


Chapter 5

Chapter 9 (pp. 221-224)

Feb. 14-19


Chapter 7

Feb. 21-Mar. 5

Mental Disorders

Chapter 8

Rosenhan, “On Being Sane in Insane Places”

Mar. 7


Mar. 12-14


Mar. 19-26


Chapter 10 (pp. 246-268)

Mar. 28-Apr. 2

Drug Use

Chapter 12

Dasbach, “The Truth About Drugs and Terrorism”

Donziger, pp. 115-121

Apr. 4-9

Drinking and Alcoholism


Chapter 13

Apr. 11-16

Privileged Deviance

Chapter 14

Krauss & Schwartz, “BP Will Plead Guilty and Pay Over…”

Apr. 18

Catch up and Review

Apr. 26


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