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Drugs and Deviance
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relativity of deviance

How to Cite

Salituro, Chris, and Lana Blitstein. 2011. “Drugs and Deviance”. TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology, August. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.


This activity uses real pharmacological descriptions of unnamed drugs as a discussion piece for deviance. Students will be asked to label the drugs as illegal or legal based on the drugs' descriptions. This activity helps to illustrate the relativity of deviance and how that is reflected in both the United States drug policies and the prison system.

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Subject Area(s):
High School Sociology
Resource Type(s):
Class Activity
Class Level(s):
High School
Class Size(s):

Usage Notes

I use this activity during my unit on deviance and social class. This activity serves as a bridge between Chambliss's "Saints and Roughnecks" and social class. First the activity illustrates that deviance is relative. Then the discussion turns to the criminal justice system and how the relative changes to the law can impact the prison system and how...

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Learning Goals and Assessments

Learning Goal(s):

  1. Students will be able to explain what is meant by "the relativity of deviance."
  2. Students will understand how policy changes can have great affect on society, specifically, the criminalization of drugs and drug use has led to different attitudes towards drugs and new challenges for the criminal justice system.
  3. Students will analyze how deviance and crime can be a social construction.

When using resources from TRAILS, please include a clear and legible citation.

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