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Explaining Social Deviance

Take a fascinating and insightful look at a little explored corner of sociology and human psychology.
Explaining Social Deviance is rated 4.1 out of 5 by 45.
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Rated 2 out of 5 by from only for sociology fans got half way thru & gave up. Too much sociological babble, too much focus on religion. Don't like his speaking style - repeated stops & starts. Rather than Social Deviance as title, better description would have been Social Disruption. Poor use of the word "deviance". Got little to no value from the course.
Date published: 2024-02-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Surprisingly informative and worth the time On a lark I bought this course while on sale. The title and graphic on the website got my interest, and the descriptions of the lectures pulled me in. There were so many reasons NOT to select this course, but something told me I'd benefit from the information. My instinct was correct. And what I learned was tangential to the stated theme. Lots of great side-bars by the lecturer that became evident only after hearing the entire course. BTW, don't let the age of this package scare you. The information is as relevant today as it was in 1998 when it was produced. In fact, it may be even more relevant. Oh, and don't let the meandering during the first lecture keep you from listening to the last 9 lectures. Tough it out during Lecture #1...and then watch this guy start to assemble the jig-saw puzzle during the following 7 lectures. The last lecture is a potpourri of examples illustrating the different schools of thoughts on deviance. I'm retired, but sure could have used some of the concepts from this course during my 30 year career as a mediator and facilitator of community disputes. (Remember: don't let the seemingly disorganized nature of the first lecture keep you from enjoying the rest of the course.)
Date published: 2022-07-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A pretty compelling Listen. Still listening, but as audio courses go, not bad at all. A comprehensive and unbiased approach to all aspects of the topic in just a few lectures.
Date published: 2022-04-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Explaining Social Deviance Professor Paul Wolpe does an excellent job of explaining theories of social deviance. He is informative and engaging. He clearly explains several theories of social deviance. I bought this course as a refresher of the theories of social deviance that I learned in college by taking sociology courses and Administration of Justice courses, this course did not disappoint. The course guidebook has a recommended reading list and supplemental reading list for each lecture which makes it easy to explore each theory more in depth.
Date published: 2020-12-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Warning: This is an old course - course book is copyrighted 1998. It would be a good idea if there was some way on finding this out before buying the course. That said, it is an interesting course. It is more of a history of the study of social deviance. I found it fascinating to trace how thinking of the subject has evolved. I would love an update on current thinking.
Date published: 2019-10-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Topic, But Dated This course needs an update, and possibly an expansion, both in an era in which LGBTQ identities have become more accepted and more assertive and in wake of the exoneration of the men who were charged in the Central Park Jogger/"wilding" case he references in the second lecture. Adding a course book with a list of supplemental reading would also be most helpful. With that said ... the professor does a great job of explaining the various theories at hand, even ones that would leave most of us slack-jawed in horror today (old views of people with Down syndrome, for example).
Date published: 2019-04-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A new perspective As a psychiatrist it was broadening to see this material from a sociological perspective. I really appreciated his format of explaining and exemplifying each theory then criticizing it's weaknesses.
Date published: 2018-09-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Title and Overview Misleading I purchased this course mostly because it was on sale and I expected to have some interest in the subject. For clarity, I repeat the title: “Explaining Social Deviance” and the first paragraph of the overview which appears in a larger font than the rest of the overview: “Why do some people commit crimes, use the wrong fork, or speak out of turn? How does a society determine when a crime has been committed, which fork to use, and who should speak when? How have we tried to explain deviance and create categories of deviants? What has been the role of race and class in these definitions?” I expected to get lectures on what constituted social deviance and, more importantly, why it occurs. This seemed a reasonable explanation give what has just been quoted. However, what Professor Wolpe presents is a series of lectures that explain the definitions of social deviance over time and according to prevailing social deviance theories. To be sure, the rest of the overview explains the course more thoroughly, so perhaps it is my fault that I was surprised by the thrust of the course. Professor Wolpe does a fine job in covering the topic that surprised me. He proceeds in a very logical and straightforward fashion, explaining a theory, giving examples of how certain behaviors either fit into the theory or how other behaviors are not considered “deviant” under that particular theory. He considers why each theory explains some behaviors well and perhaps more importantly, the failings of each theory in explaining other behaviors. He does this, mostly chronologically going over time from one theory to another. I became quite fascinated in following his reasoning even though the course material was not at all what I expected. However, I became quite disappointed when the lectures turned to social deviance theories explaining why the changes in social behavior caused scientists to turn from (for example) Newtonian physics to relativity and quantum mechanics. To me this seemed a facile explanation of an idea not well considered by social (not physical) scientists. (At least one other reviewer shares my dislike to this analysis. I also think that the course went off the rails when it seemed to give legitimacy to a few other topics (e.g. creation science), though it might be one of these instances of a flawed theory resulting in a flawed conclusion. Good course, in most ways, though not at all what I was expecting. I’ll give a recommendation but deduct a couple of stars for the misleading description and (to me) some non-comprehension as to how scientists progress.
Date published: 2017-06-19
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Overview

Why do some people commit crimes, use the wrong fork, or speak out of turn? How does society determine who is or is not deviant? Find out the answers to these and other similar questions here. Examine the complex topic of deviance and how major sociological theories have attempted to both define it and understand its role in society. Delivered by award-winning Professor Paul Root Wolpe, it's a fascinating and insightful look at a little explored corner of sociology and human psychology.

About

Paul Root Wolpe

I’m more interested in those forms of deviance, whether they’re criminal or not, that have a sense of social controversy about them, that have a sense of conflict. Some of them are criminal and some are simply considered eccentric.

INSTITUTION

Emory University

Dr. Paul Root Wolpe is the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Bioethics, the Raymond F. Schinazi Distinguished Research Chair in Jewish Bioethics, a Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Pediatrics, and Sociology, and the Director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University. Dr. Wolpe also serves as the first bioethicist for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, where he is responsible for formulating policy on bioethical issues and safeguarding research subjects. Professor Wolpe did his undergraduate work in the sociology and psychology of religion at the University of Pennsylvania and went on to earn an M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D from Yale University. He previously taught at the University of Pennsylvania in the Departments of Psychiatry, Sociology, and Medical Ethics. He was a Senior Fellow of Penn's Center for Bioethics and directed the Scattergood Program for the Applied Ethics of Behavioral Health and the Program in Psychiatry and Ethics at the School of Medicine. In 1996, Professor Wolpe was named Outstanding Professor at Penn by the Panhellenic Council. Professor Wolpe is coeditor of the American Journal of Bioethics (AJOB), the premier scholarly journal in bioethics, and editor of AJOB Neuroscience. He also sits on the editorial boards of over a dozen professional journals in medicine and ethics. He is the author of the textbook Sexuality and Gender in Society and the end-of-life guide In the Winter of Life, and he has written more than 100 articles, editorials, and book chapters in sociology, medicine, and bioethics. Professor Wolpe appears frequently in the broadcast media, including MSNBC, CBS and ABC Evening News, Dateline, and 60 Minutes.

The First Step—Asking the Right Questions

01: The First Step—Asking the Right Questions

In this opening lecture, the topic of deviance is introduced as a complex social phenomenon that raises numerous questions about how a varied and often arbitrary set of characteristics can be used to name the same idea.

47 min
Demonism—The Devil's Children and Evil Empires

02: Demonism—The Devil's Children and Evil Empires

Classical demonism illustrates the absolutist perspective of deviance by dividing the world into good and evil. Classical demonism has re-emerged as an explanation for deviance in modern society. Modern demonism continues to divide the world into opposing forces; those who know what is right and those who do not.

47 min
Deviance as Pathology—I'm OK, You Are Twisted

03: Deviance as Pathology—I'm OK, You Are Twisted

The pathological perspective of deviance is based on the assumption of a difference between those who are deviant and those who are not. Scientific thinking attempts to explain this difference through racial hierarchy, heredity, intelligence, and genetics; despite its contention that deviance must be viewed empirically, it is still highly moralistic and discriminatory.

45 min
Social Disorganization—Deviance in the Urban Landscape

04: Social Disorganization—Deviance in the Urban Landscape

The first sociological theory of deviance emerged from the University of Chicago in the 1920s. Despite its inherent bias and circular logic, the social disorganization theory established fieldwork and empirical research as mainstays of sociology. It was also the first theory to suggest that individuals are influenced by the structure of the social world in which they live.

45 min
Functionalism and Anomie—Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

05: Functionalism and Anomie—Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

Functionalism suggests that deviance is necessary for a society to create moral boundaries and a collective conscience that goes beyond any individual. Two different but influential views of deviance and anomie are explored: Emile Durkheim's view which states that deviance prevents anomie, and Robert Merton's view that anomie is a result of deviance.

46 min
Learning Theory—You Have to be Carefully Taught

06: Learning Theory—You Have to be Carefully Taught

The premise of learning theory is that deviance is not an isolated process; people are socialized into particular behavior patterns and norms of the subculture to which they are exposed. Learning theory attempts to explain the roles that differential association and identification play in the socialization process and how adopted behaviors are reinforced and rewarded.

46 min
Control Theory—Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child

07: Control Theory—Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child

The principle of control theory is that people are inherently motivated to deviance, and it is only because of social bonds and the fear of punishment that they do not act on these instincts. The role control theory has played in both historical and contemporary thinking on deterrence is also explored.

46 min
Labeling Theory—Is Deviance in the Eye of the Beholder?

08: Labeling Theory—Is Deviance in the Eye of the Beholder?

Labeling theory suggests that there is no fundamental difference between someone who is deviant and someone who is not; people simply act, and it is society that determines whether or not behavior is deviant. This theory provides insight into how nonvoluntary, noncriminal behaviors such as mental illness become viewed as a form of deviance.

46 min
Conflict and Constructionism—Every Step You Take, I'll Be Watching You

09: Conflict and Constructionism—Every Step You Take, I'll Be Watching You

Competing interests that are part of all human interactions are the focus of constructionism and conflict theories. The explanation of deviance as pathological or as a result of certain social interactions gives way to a view of deviance that is more explicitly ideological in nature. To understand deviance, it is not the "deviant" who needs to be analyzed; it is the creation of deviance that must be deconstructed.

47 min
Case Studies—Sex and Science

10: Case Studies—Sex and Science

Because every society devotes much time and energy to determining what is sexually proper and what is taboo, this lecture discusses sexual deviance as an example of how the theories discussed in this course continue to resonate in modern thought. It is the role of science in society and the responsibility of each individual as "moral entrepreneur" to constantly negotiate the meaning of deviance.

47 min

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