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1. Check the meanings of deviance and crime in a dictionary.

2. Work with a partner. Think about the relationship between deviance and crime. Discuss the following questions:

1 How would you define deviant behaviour? Write a definition, beginning with: Deviant behaviour is behaviour that…

2 How would you define criminal behaviour? Write a definition, beginning with: Criminal behaviour is behaviour that…

3. List some examples of deviant and criminal behaviour.

4. Complete the table with behaviours that relate to the issues listed on the left.

Some behaviours that are generally considered normal, deviant, or criminal in most Western industrialized societies



Deviant but not criminal

Deviant and criminal

Use of the streets

Crossing the street at the traffic light

Failing to stop after a traffic accident

Use of alcohol

Moderate social drinking

Alcohol abuse

Making money

Earning a living as an adult

Begging on the streets

Source: Knox, 159. (adapted)

5. Think of another culture you know well. Would the behaviours in the table above be considered normal, deviant, or criminal in that culture? the sqr3 system

SQR3: Survey (S), Question (Q), Read, Recite, and Review (R3)

Many books about studying at university recommend the SQR3 approach to reading. The SQR3 approach helps you become an active reader. Active readers do not simply pick up a text and read it. They do tasks before reading, while reading, and after reading. These tasks help them understand and remember what they have read.

In this pre-reading activity, we will look at the first three steps in the SQR3 system: survey, question, and read.

1 Survey

  • Survey this text before reading it closely.

  • Look at the title, subheadings, boxed text, and pictures.

  • Skim through the text, reading the beginnings and ends of paragraphs.

  • Report back to the class on what you looked at and discovered.

2 Question

  • Before you read this text, think of questions that you expect the text will answer. One trick is to look at the subheadings and key terms that you noticed in your survey and turn them into questions. For example, the subheading "Age group" might prompt the question, "Which age group is most likely to commit crimes?"

  • Write your questions in the margins.

  • Compare your questions with a small group.

3 Read

  • As you read, think about the questions you wrote in the margins.

  • See if you can answer your questions.




someone too young to be legally considered an adult; punishments for minors are usually different than those for adults.

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someone too ycuny he ae legally cons 3e*=c =r =7~~ punishment;:-' ~ "o~. bi usually diffe-;—. :-«r ~ca for adults

1) Have you ever . . .

crossed the street against the traffic light?

driven through a stop sign without stopping?

drunk or bought alcohol as a minor?

cheated on a test?

(2) If so, you have broken a socially accepted norm or practice, and you could therefore be considered deviant. Deviant behaviour is behaviour that is considered to be unacceptable, or outside the norms for that society.


This man has been arrested and charged with a crime. He is being searched for weapons before going to jail.

3) There are, of course, degrees of deviance and not every member of society will agree on what is deviant behaviour and what is normal behaviour. For example, while many people believe that prostitution is deviant, others see it as a legitimate way for people to earn a living. Also, what is seen as deviant behaviour will change over time and vary from place to place. Drinking alcohol, for example, has been regarded as deviant or as acceptable in the United States at different times in the past. In fact, in the 1920s, alcohol was considered to be so unacceptable in the U.S. that it was illegal to sell, buy, or consume it. Now drinking in moderation is accepted by the majority of the population as normal social behaviour for adults.

(4) What is considered to be deviant may also vary from culture to cul­ture. In most cultures, but certainly not in all, it is regarded as deviant for a man to have more than one wife at the same time. However, there are some religious groups and cultures where polygamy is an accepted practice.

(5) Some acts of deviance may simply result in a person being regarded as odd or unusual, while other deviant behaviours actually break the law. These behaviours are seen as crimes.


(6) Reports on crime can't give us a complete picture of who commits crimes because not all crimes are reported. Furthermore, law enforce­ment agencies don't always share their information. However, available information on reported crimes can give us information about the peo­ple who commit crimes. If we consider all categories of crime together, the most likely people to commit crimes are young men from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

Age group

(7) Young people have the highest rates of arrest for reported crime. Almost half of all people arrested are under the age of 25. Older peo­ple may gradually move away from crime or they may become skilled in not getting caught. Younger people are more likely to be involved in crime because they have fewer relationships that encourage them to follow conventional behaviour. A married person with two children and a steady job is less likely to commit a crime than an unemployed, single, child-free person.


(8) According to FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) reports, 78 percent of all those arrested for crimes are males. Females are arrested for criminal behaviour in only 21 percent of all arrests. (Percentages for males and females don't add up to 100 percent because of rounding of numbers.) Most women criminals are unem­ployed, uneducated, single mothers with small children.

(9) Why is it that the figures for males and females are so different? Sociologists suggest that it is more socially acceptable for males to be deviant and involved in crime than it is for females. Women are under a greater social pressure to conform than men are. If they do not con­form to the expected social roles of wife and mother, they are more likely to be assigned extremely negative labels. It has also been sug­gested that women have fewer opportunities to get involved in crimi­nal behaviour. Compared to males, potential female criminals are less likely to be selected and recruited into criminal groups, have a more limited range of criminal career paths open to them, and have fewer opportunities for learning criminal skills (Steffensmeier 1983). In other words, like employment opportunities, criminal opportunities are still much less available to women than to men. A further argument is that in a male-dominated society, women are socialized differently from men. Consequently, women are less interested in achieving material success and more interested in achieving emotional fulfilment through close personal relations with others. A drive for material success, it is argued, can lead people into crime if they lack other opportunities to gain such success.

Socioeconomic status


socioeconomic groups people grouped by sociologists according to social status, jobs, and amount of money earned


officially accused of committing a crime


found guilty of committing a crime

10) The majority of those arrested are also from lowersocioeconomic groups in the community. Without money, it is harder to keep out of trouble. You are more likely to do your gambling, for example, in a public place rather than in the safety of a suburban living room, and you cannot afford a private attorney to represent you if you do get caught. The poor are far more likely than the well-off to be arrested. If they are arrested, they are more likely to be charged. If they are charged, they are more likely to be convicted, and if they are convicted, they are more likely to be sentenced to prison (Reiman 1979).

After you read

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