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.

Deviance theories: Part one

Still from documentary ‘A Very British Gangster’ – SBS

A deviance essay requires you to explain deviance using a range of sociological theories. In the past two lessons we have looked at Functionalist theories, including:

  • Traditional functionalist theory (Durkheim)
  • Anomie theory, specifically known as Structural-strain theory (Merton)
  • Delinquent Subculture theory (Cohen)
  • Cultural-transmission theory, specifically Differential Association theory (Sutherland) This theory is sometimes viewed as an interactionist theory. 


VanKriekenDeviance (Functionalist theories plus more)

Cohen Delinquent Subculture

Gang babes love to kill (This is a case study about female gangs in New York City)

Gang babes love to kill page 2

RobertsonDeviance (Differential Association theory plus more)