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The Relativity of Deviance
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The Relativity of Deviance

Fourth Edition


January 2016 | 408 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

This engaging and informative book, by award-winning sociologist and criminologist John Curra, offers a valuable perspective on attitudes and behaviors labeled as deviant.  The Relativity of Deviance, Fourth Edition, explores the meanings and constructions of social deviance and social reactions to it, he answers such questions as:

  • What is deviance?
  • What comprises deviant behavior?
  • How are deviants treated?
  • How is deviance socially constructed and socially sustained?
  • Why is the same attitude, behavior, or condition praised in one situation and condemned in another?  

Through insightful and thought-provoking examples and informed accounts, the author illustrates that deviance cannot be explained or understood in terms of absolutes or essential characteristics nor can it be explained or understood apart from its social setting. This book approaches sex, violence, theft, drugs, suicide, rape, and mental disorders in a way that shows the critical role of sociocultural factors and social reactions in constructions of deviance and crime.

Contributor to the SAGE Teaching Innovations and Professional Development Award

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Preface
 
Chapter 1: The Dynamic Nature of Deviance
Kids, Crocodiles, and Social Control

 
Relationships and Rule Breaking

 
Sociological Relativity

 
The Social Construction of Reality

 
Theoretical Views: The Old and the Not-So-Old

 
Relativity and Social Deviance

 
Whose Side Are We On?

 
Conclusions

 
References

 
 
Chapter 2: Being Deviant
The Original Blue Man (and Woman) Group

 
Being and Doing

 
Deviance and Responsibility

 
The Social Construction of Spoiled Identities

 
Managing Stigma

 
Conclusions

 
References

 
 
Chapter 3: Power, Social Networks, and Organizational Deviance
Power Corrupts, and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

 
The Carrier's Case: Other People's Belongings and the Crime of Theft

 
White-Collar Crime and Elite Deviance

 
The Relativity of Terrorism

 
Privilege, Power, and Penalties

 
Conclusions

 
References

 
 
Chapter 4: Mental Disorders
Medicalization on 34th Street

 
The Medicalization Process

 
Manufacturing Madness

 
The Myth of Mental Illness

 
Mental Health Buccaneers and Social Control

 
Sense and Nonsense in the Psychiatric Enterprise

 
Meltdown in the DSM

 
Conclusions

 
References

 
 
Chapter 5: Predatory Violence
The Social Construction of Murder and Violence

 
Arbitrary Meanings

 
Patterned Violence

 
Vocabularies of Motive and Interpersonal Accounts

 
The Curious Case of Jack the Ripper

 
Variable Violence

 
Conclusions

 
References

 
 
Chapter 6: Sexual Violence
Defining Rape

 
The Symbolic Organization of Sexual Violence

 
Rape and Social Conflict

 
Rape Scenes

 
Normalizing Sexual Violence

 
The Rape of Males

 
Conclusions

 
References

 
 
Chapter 7: Suicide
Social Frames and Definitions of the Situation

 
The Meanings of Suicide

 
The Curious Case of Autoerotic Asphyxiation

 
Sociocultural Variations in Suicide: Motive, Intent, and Interpretation

 
Suicide, Stigma, and Responsibility

 
Conclusions

 
References

 
 
Chapter 8: Sexual Diversity
Sex, Gender, and Sexuality

 
Sexuality: A Sociocultural Understanding

 
The Curious Case of the Berdache

 
Sexual Differentiation and Sexual Asymmetry

 
The Myth of the Universal Turn-On

 
Sexual Politics and the Transformation of Intimacy

 
Deviantizing Sexual Matters

 
Conclusions

 
References

 
 
Chapter 9: Drugs and Drug Taking
The Social Reality of Drug Use

 
Getting Stoned in the Animal Kingdom

 
Addiction: Imprecise Definitions and Arbitrary Meanings

 
The Social Dynamics of Human Drug-Taking Experiences

 
Moral Entrepreneurs and Drug Crusades

 
Conclusions

 
References

 
 
Index
 
About the Author
Key features

NEW TO THIS EDITION:

  • Every chapter has been updated in light of current events and contains new examples and accounts including discussions on
    • graffiti writers;
    • Edward Snowden;
    • rape on college campuses;
    • relativity of terrorism and ISIS;
    • marijuana legalization;
    • the persecution of gays by the Westboro Baptist Church; and 
    • the social organization of lying.
  • Chapter 4 (mental disorders) has been heavily updated based on the publication of the newest manual on mental disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association.  
  • The book includes more headings and subheadings, making it easier to read and understand. 
  • More cross-cultural examples of social deviance have been added.
  • The discussion on Jack the Ripper has been updated.
  • The coverage of white-collar crime and the Great Recession of 2008 has been expanded.
  • The book includes a new examination of police violence and "contempt of cop" attitudes resulting from the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

KEY FEATURES: 

  • Insightful and thought-provoking examples and informed accounts of the blue people of Kentucky, a woman who believes she is a vampire, autoerotic asphyxiates, exotic dancers, serial killers, graffiti writers, and many others.
  • Offers a captivating analysis of the social construction of deviance while explaining it in an approachable, interesting way.
  • Allows instructors to integrate a relativist perspective into the major topics covered in a deviance course.
  • Applies relevant theoretical concepts to specific examples of deviance.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 2

Chapter 5


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