Tuesday 31 March – Deviance


***IMPORTANT: The Deviance reader I scanned and uploaded to the blog on Tuesday 24 March was not the complete version (it was missing every second page).

If you have already downloaded it, please delete it and download the following PDF documents which make up the entirety of the Deviance reader:




Today’s lesson:

  1. Please watch the following videos which recap what we learnt last lesson (including summaries of the first two theories we look at), and make sure you are on track with your notes for this.


Video 1

Video 2

Video 3


P.S I know I look insane in the freeze frames of these vids. Soz.
  1. Try to use Merton’s (1968) Structural Strain theory to explain the information presented in the stimulus below:


Stimulus 1 – The female criminal : an overview of women’s drug use and offending behaviour

Women’s drug use is believed to be a defining factor in their participation in crime and it is argued that the severity of women’s drug use is more closely related to their criminality than it is for men, particularly for prostitution and property crime. Women’s drug use and offending are different from men’s. For instance, female offenders are more likely than males to be incarcerated for non-violent crimes, such as drug offences (14 percent of female prisoners, compared to 9 percent of males), whereas male offenders are more likely to be incarcerated for violent crimes such as assault (23 percent of male prisoners, compared to 14 percent of females) (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2002). Women drug users, particularly those who have been incarcerated, experience higher levels of abuse, economic hardship and other adversity in their lives than men.

Source: https://aic.gov.au/publications/tandi/tandi264

If you need a sentence starter: “Merton’s (1968) Structural Strain theory explains deviance as… this theory could explain the information presented in the stimulus, particularly through the use of the [insert the type of response you think most applies here].. because..

In what ways might Merton’s theory not be applicable/helpful in explaining the above stimulus?


3. Turn to page 10 of the Deviance Reader and read about Cultural Transmission theory – particularly Sutherland’s (1939) Differential Association theory.                   

  • Write down, in your own words, the key argument put forward by Sutherland, be sure to include the key concepts (age, intensity and ratio) and what they concepts mean.
  • Do you think this theory is reflective of the earlier perceptions around crime and deviance (absolute definition of crime and deviance) or does it acknowledge the relativity of deviance? Explain your answer.
  • Apply this theory to the following stimulus from the 2016 Sociology exam paper:


Thursday 26 March – Deviance

  1. We continued to talk about the relativity of deviance – which is the idea that deviance is socially constructed. It is relative to time, place, culture, status of the actor and audience.

We used the following PowerPoint to discuss some examples of this:


2. We also added page numbers to our deviance reader (starting with no. 1 on the inside of front page).

We turned to page 1 of our deviance reader and read the paragraph titled Sociological theories of crime and deviance (this paragraph ends on the sentence ‘There is also concern that the concepts of crime and deviance are themselves problematic and contribute to the problem they seek to resolve, an issue examined later in this chapter’)

Please summarise that paragraph in your own words. This is the basis of our deviance essay. It helps structure the arguments.

We then answered the following questions in relation to the next section of the reader:


*Although cut off in the image above, there was an additional question “Can you apply this theory to any of the women in the SBS Lockdown documentary?”

Tuesday 24 March – Crime and Deviance

Today we began our explorations into the topic of crime and deviance.

  1. Students were asked to come up with a theory for why deviance happens/exists in our society:



2. Students were given their own copy of the deviance reader (v.important!) See PDFs below:




*Download this reader onto your computer, and print if possible. If you cannot download it, please send me an email ASAP.

3. I then asked students to consider if there is a behaviour that is considered universally deviant across all social and historical contexts. This was a difficult task, and it led to a discussion on a key sociological approach to deviance: the relativity of deviance. Students read the pages from the van Krieken et al (2017) textbook below and responded to the following questions (if you were absent today, please do the reading and answer the questions in your exercise book):

a) Explain the change towards a relative understanding of crime and deviance (5-7 sentences)

b) How does van Krieken et al (2017) define:

  • crime (1-2 sentences)
  • deviance (1-2 sentences)


4. We then watched the first 30 minutes of the following SBS documentary on female prisoners:

Click here to access it via SBS On Demand (signing up is free)

*If you can’t sign up, type in SBS Lockdown into YouTube and it should be available.

The Australian Dream


We watched ‘The Australian Dream’ documentary. It is currently available to watch on ABC iView:

Click here to watch it on ABC iView

Key ideas:

What is the Australian Dream?

Is it achievable for all Australians?

Different forms of racism (casual and institutional)

What happens when minority members speak out against racism?

Why change is often stifled by the dominant culture/people in power

We read an article on the the ape insult and its history