Summary of Chapters on Sociology: Journal Entry Assignment example

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Summary of Chapters on Sociology: Journal Entry Assignment

Chapter 7

The introduction describes a case of Francis Ianni, who had grown up in a mafia family. Ianni described members of his family and analyzed how did the life of 42 members of the clan changed over the years. He has found out that most of the family members (more than 90%) took their chances to stop with illegal activities and switch to legitimate businesses once they had enough money. Members of the family fully integrated into society, moving from ‘rule breakers to conformists’. However one thing stayed with the former mafia members. They maintained their leadership structure and strict family code. After that a term of ‘Norms” is described. “Norms are principles or rules that people are expected to observe”. Mafia members had their own set of rules and norms, which led them to being a successful member of mainstream society. The study of deviant behavior is the study of norms and different people could see those differently. We need to understand their behavior in order to understand their way of thinking.

Deviance may be defined as nonconformity to a set of rules accepted by a large number of representatives of society. However the norms are different for everyone. There are cases when deviants are considered crime (murder, stealing) and crimes that are not considered deviant (underage drinking, speeding). Deviant Subculture is a group of people that believe in the same deviant ideas and behave accordingly. An example would be Heaven’s Gate, a religious group that believed they had to commit a suicide in order to get salvation. The mass suicide happened in 1997 in California.

As the most members of society define norms for others, there are also Sanctions, which are basically any type of reaction from the others to make sure that the person complies with the ‘norms’. They could be positive (reward) and negative (punishment for the behavior). They can be formal or informal. Formal sanctions defined by the government are called Laws. On the other hand, Crime is any type of the opposite behavior that is against the laws.

Emile Durkheim and Robert Merton argues that any deviant behavior is the result of the society structure itself. Durkheims notion of anomie suggests that the modern society has undermined traditional norms and standards and have not offered any replacement for them. Durkheim saw crime and deviant behavior as inevitable part of any society and a necessary element of it. People in the modern age are less constrained and therefore have bigger chances for deviant behavior. Deivance is necessary and has two main functions: 1. Deviance has an adoptive function. It brings new ideas and social changes. 2. Deviance promotes boundary maintenance between good and bad. For example members of a neighborhood could join together in order to fight the drug related crimes in the area and therefore make it drug-free zone. Durkheim’s ideas helped to shift from trying to understand the problems of individuals to the understanding of …

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