44 interesting facts about Sociology


1. How is deviance defined by Marshall B. Clinard?

The American sociologist Marshall B. Clinard has suggested that the term deviance should be reserved for ‘those situations in which behaviour is in a disapproved direction, and of a sufficient degree to exceed the tolerance limit of the community.’

2. How can deviance be called relative? Describe.


Deviance is relative. This means that there is no absolute way of defining a deviant act. Deviance can only be defined in relation to a particular standard and no standards are fixed or absolute. As such deviance varies from time to time and place to place. In a particular society an act which is considered deviant today may be defined as normal in the future.

3. What kind of relationship does deviance share with culture?

Deviance is culturally determined and cultures change over time and vary from society to society. The following examples will serve to illustrate the above points. At certain times in Western society it has been considered deviant for women to smoke, use make-up and consume alcoholic drinks in public.

4. Which type of activities does deviance refer to?


The concept of deviance suggested is fairly simple. Deviance refers to those activities which do not conform to the norms and expectations of members of a particular society. As studied by sociologists it usually refers to those activities which bring general disapproval from members of society. Deviance is a relative concept.

5. How is deviant behaviour different from normal behaviour?

Deviant behaviour is different from normal behaviour. Therefore deviants are different from normal people. Deviant behaviour is a social problem since it has a disruptive effect on social life. Therefore deviants are a social problem. Since they are both different and a problem there must be something wrong with deviants.

6. Give the explanation of illness a deviant suffers from?


Diagnosing; the illness from which the deviant is presumed to be suffering the two main diagnoses of the deviant were physiological and psychological. The first argued that deviants had some organic defect or pathology which they were born with and which influenced or caused their behaviour. The second argued that deviants were psychologically unbalanced due to some emotional disturbance in their past.

7. Where does physiological or biological explanation of deviance focus?

Physiological or biological explanations of deviance argue that particular individuals are more prone to deviance than others because of their genetic make-up. Genetically inherited characteristics either directly cause or predispose them towards deviance.

8. What is the relationship between physical build and delinquent activity found by sheldon & Eleanor?


Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck claim to have found a causal relationship between physical build and delinquent activity. They argue that stocky, rounded individuals, a body type known as mesomorph, tend to be more active and aggressive than those with other build. Their research has shown that delinquent behaviour is associated with mesomorphs.

9. What is the postulation of modern supporters of genetic theories of deviance?

The modern supporters of genetic theories of deviance are more cautious than their predecessors. They do not suggest that an individual is a total prisoner of his genes. Instead they argue that genetically based characteristics predispose an individual to deviant behaviour. Thus Eysenck states that ‘heredity is a very strong predisposing factor as far as committing crimes is concerned.’

10. How is the link between mesomorphism and delinquency interpreted by Taylor, Walton and Young?


Taylor, Walton and Young provide an alternative explanation for the link between mesomorphism and delinquency. They suggest that, ‘It may well be that lower working-class children, who are more likely to be found in the criminal statistics, are also by virtue of diet, continual manual labour, physical fitness and strength, more likely to be mesomorphic.’

11. What is the similarity between Eysenck’s description and subterranean values?

Eysenck’s description of extravert characteristics is very similar to the ‘subterranean values’ which, according to Matza and Sykes, direct delinquent behaviour. Values are learned rather than being generally determined.

12. What is the major difficulty with all biological theories?

A major difficulty with all biological theories is the problem of showing that particular behaviour is genetically based. It is not yet possible to isolate a gene for a combination of genes and to show conclusively that they influence particular actions.

13. Which type of similarities does psychological theories of deviance share with biological theories?

Psychological theories of deviance share certain similarities with biological theories. First, they see the deviant as different from the population as a whole. Second, he is abnormal in a normal population. Third, his abnormality predisposes him to deviance.

14. In what sense do the psychological theories differ with biological theories?

Psychological theories differ in their claim that the deviant’s abnormally is learned rather than genetically determined. They see abnormal experience rather than abnormal genes as the basis for deviance.

This experience produces ‘character defects’ and ‘maladjusted personalities’ which in turn produce deviance.

15. What is defective socialization?

Psychological theories argue that something has gone wrong in the socialization process, usually in the mother-child relationship. This ‘defective socialization’ involves emotional disturbance which leads to the formation of maladjusted personality traits.

16. What is John Bowlby’s idea on the psychology of deviance?

John Bowlby’s Forty-four Juvenile Thieves is a pioneering work in the psychology of deviance. He argued that a child has certain basic needs, the most important being emotional security, which can be provided most effectively by a close, intimate relationship with its mother.

If the child is deprived of maternal love, particularly during its early years, a psychopathic personality can develop. Psychopaths rarely feel guilt and show little response to punishment or treatment.

Bowlby claimed that those delinquents who were ‘chronic recidivists’, that is they constantly broke the law with little regard for the possible consequences, had suffered from ‘maternal deprivation’ during their early years. They revealed psychopathic traits, had often been raised in institutions such as orphanages, and so been deprived of an intimate relationship with a mother figure.

17. Present Robert G. Andry’s idea on the psychology of deviance.

Robert G. Andry claimed that boys who had hostile and unsatisfactory relationships with their fathers projected hostility and acted it out in their relationships with other boys and authority figures. Such unsatisfactory relationships between boys and their fathers produced a ‘chip on the shoulder’ mentality rather than the more severe psychological disturbances.

18. On what grounds do the biological sociologists reject the psychological explanations of deviance?

Sociologists tend to dismiss psychological explanations of deviance.

(i) They argue that such theories tend to ignore social and cultural factors in the explanation of deviance.

(ii) They argue that the methodology of the studies is suspect.

(iii) Many sociologists reject the priority given to childhood experience.

19. In what way has Marshal B. Clinard interpreted psychological theories of deviance?

Marshall B. Clinard scornfully likens psychological theories of deviance to the older notion of possession by devils. The devil has been replaced by the character defect; exorcism by the priest has been replaced with treatment by the psychiatrist.

20. On what ground do many sociologists reject the view that the individual is a prisoner of his early experience?

Many sociologists dismiss the view that the individual is a prisoner of his early experience which he simply acts out in later life. This approach ignores the influence of a vast number of social factors which influence behaviour during an individual’s life. ,

21. Write down functional idea of deviance in terms of social order.

The functionalist emphasis on the importance of shared norms and values as the basis for social order, it would appear that deviance is a threat to order and should therefore be seen as dysfunctional for society. All functionalists agree that social control mechanisms are necessary to keep deviance in check and so protect social order.

22. What is Emile Durfheim’s view on deviance?

Emile Durkheim develops this argument with his discussion of crime in The Rules of Sociological Method. He argues that crime is an inevitable and normal aspect of social life; it is ‘an integral part of all healthy societies.’ It is inevitable because not every member of society can be equally committed to the ‘collective sentiments’, the shared values and moral beliefs of society.

23. Why do Durpheim claim that crime can also be functional?

Crime is not only inevitable, it can also be functional. Durkheim argues that it only becomes dysfunctional when ‘its rate is unusually high.’ He argues that all social change begins with some form of deviance. In order for change to occur, yesterday’s deviance must become today’s normality.

24. What should be the nature of collective sentiments required for change to occur. Express Durkheim’s view.

For change to occur the collective sentiments must not be too strong, too hostile to change; they must have only ‘moderate energy’. If they were too strong they would crush all originality, both the originality of the criminal and the originality of the genius.

25. What is the necessary condition of progress according to Durkheim?

Durkheim’ ‘to make progress, individual originality must be able to express itself. In order that his originality of the idealist whose dreams transcend this century may find expression, it is necessary that the originality of the criminal, who is below the level of his time, shall also be possible.

26. In what way does Durpheim say that terrorists may represent a future established order?

Durkheim regarded some crime as ‘an anticipation of the morality of the future.’ Thus heretics who were denounced by both the state and the established church may represent the collective sentiments of the future. In the same way terrorists or freedom fighters may represent a future established order.

27. What is the function of punishment according to Durkheim?

Durkheim argues that its function is not to remove crime in society. Rather it is to maintain the collective sentiments at their necessary level of strength. In Durkheim’s words, punishment ‘serves to heal the wounds done to the collective sentiments.’ Without punishment the collective sentiments would lose their force to control behaviour and the crime rate would reach the point where it became dysfunctional.

28. Write down any single function of deviance suggested by Albert K. Cohen.

Albert K. Cohen analyses several possible functions of deviance. One of them is deviance can function as a safety valve, providing a relatively harmless expression of discontent. In this way social order is protected. For example, Cohen suggests that ‘prostitution performs such a safety valve function without threatening the institution of the family.’

29. In what sense may deviance act as a warning device according to Cohen?

Cohen suggests that certain deviant acts may provide a useful warning device to indicate that an aspect of society is malfunctioning. They may draw attention to the problem and lead to measures to solve it. Thus trusts from school, deserters from the army or runways from Borstal institutions may ‘reveal unsuspected causes of discontent, and lead to changes that enhance efficiency and morale.’

30. What are those problems which were not explained by Emile Durkheim?

Durkheim does not explain why particular individuals or groups appear to be more prone to deviance than others. Nor does he explain why certain forms of deviance appear to be associated with particular groups in the population.

31. Write down the basic assumption of Robert K. Merton regarding the theory of deviance.

Merton argues that deviance results not from ‘pathological personalities’ but from the culture and structure of society itself. He begins from the standard functionalist position of value consensus that is all members of society share the same values. Merton’s words, ‘the social and cultural structure generates pressure for socially deviant behaviour upon people variously located in that structure.

32. Why is American society unstable and unbalanced according to Robert K. Merton?

In a balanced society an equal emphasis is placed upon both cultural goals and institutionalized means, and members are satisfied with both. But in America great importance is attached to success and relatively less importance is given to the accepted ways of achieving success. As such, American society is unstable, unbalanced.

33. Which section of society selects situation to success?

Merton uses the term ‘ritualism’ to describe the possible response. Those who select alternative are deviant because they have largely abandoned the commonly held success goals. The pressure to adopt this alternative is greatest for members of the lower middle class.

34. Write Barnes and Teeters definition of crime.

According to Barnes and Teeters, “Crime is a form of anti-social behaviour that has violated public sentiment to such an extent as to be forbidden by statute.” Crime is the omission of an act which the law of the land asks to do or commission of an act which it forbids to do.

35. What is the recognition of crime when the law is not written?

When the law is not written then crime is generally recognized as transgressions against the traditions or mores of the community. Crime, therefore, may be regarded as behaviour of individuals which the group strongly disapproves.

36. Define crime in terms of civilization.

Crime is the price for the advantage of civilization. Crime is said to be a major social phenomenon of modern civilized and advanced societies. Though there was crime in primitive societies too but therein it was not a major social problem.

37. Why was there little crime among primitive societies?

Modern society have heterogeneous race & various classes & also have several norms of conduct which often clash with one another; and have limited control over the behaviour of their members. In primitive societies called backward there was a single code of beliefs and customs, the culture was static and homogeneous and there was little institutional disorganization and a minimum class- differentiation. Naturally there was little crime among primitive tribes and in simple folk societies.

38. What is meant by white-collar crime?

White-collar crime amounts several times more than the conventional type of crime. By white-collar crimes we mean the crimes committed by the upper strata of society in their business and professional practice. The Securities scam, the sugar scam, the Telecom scam and the fodder scam are the recent examples, tax evasion.

39. What is a more sorry state of criminal affairs in present societies?

What is a more sorry state of affairs is that the racketeers, black-marketers, smugglers, tax-evaders and bribe takers exert considerable political influence and have entered the legislatures. The public seems willing to support their activities through extensive patronage. Our moral sense is at low ebb.

40. What is the status of crime in India?

In India crime has increased steadily in recent years. Moreover, the data from the penal institutions show that a large percentage of inmates are repeaters reflecting the failure of our society to rehabilitate the criminal. The country spends several cores of rupees in detecting, convicting and guarding the criminals, yet crime goes on increasing day by day.

41. What are biological causes of crime?

Biological causes include insanity, physical disability, defective glandular and nervous system. The psychological causes may be neurosis, psychopathy and emotional instability. The social causes are social disorganization, social competition, social mobility, conflict, defective social institutions, and lack of education, sexual literature, cultural lag and war. The economic causes are economic competition, poverty, unemployment, desire for more wealth, unlimited desires, industralisation, poor natural resources, inflation etc.

42. Present any two views regarding the solution of the problem of crime.

According to Elliot and Merrill, “The actors in relation to the whole, rather than the sum of the single isolated factors, must be considered in any satisfactory analysis.” Some criminologists, such as Bonger believe that only a completely renovated society, one in which there is no capitalism, can solve the problem of crime.

43. What means are used to treat criminals in Indian Jails?

In India various means are being explored forgiving a better treatment to the criminal inside the jail. He is being provided with more and better amenities of life. Besides sufficient food, bedding and clothing he is also provided with recreational facilities. Indoor and outdoor games are played and tournaments are arranged in which teams from outside often participate.

44. What are the different categories of cyber criminals?

The cyber criminals constitute of various groups/categories. This division may be justified one of the object that they have in their mind. The following are the category of cyber criminals,

(1) Adolescents between the age group of 6-18 years: The reason for this type of delinquent behaviour pattern in children is seen mostly due to the inquisitiveness to know and explore the things,

(2) Organised hackers – these kinds of hackers are mostly organised together to fulfil certain objective. The reason may be to fulfil their political bias, fundamentalism, etc. (3) Professional hackers or crackers: They do it for money. These kinds of hackers are mostly employed to hack the site of the rivals and get credible, reliable and valuable information. (4) Discontented employees: This group includes those people who have been either sacked by their employer or are dissatisfied with their employer.

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