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Exploring the Relativity of Deviance
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How to Cite

Kane, Laura, and Elizabeth Pike. 2021. “Exploring the Relativity of Deviance”. TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology, May. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.


Students in Criminology courses are familiar with positivist theories of crime that assume the behavior is wrong and attempt to provide explanations for that behavior. This Social Deviance and Social Control course is required for both Sociology and Criminology majors and attempts to broaden students’ horizons regarding understanding why one might act...

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Subject Area(s):
Deviant Behavior/Social Disorganization
Resource Type(s):
Assessment, Assignment, Class Activity
Class Level(s):
College 300
Class Size(s):

Usage Notes

This activity is intended for use at the beginning of a course on the study of Deviance after positivist theories have been reviewed. The resource includes a homework assignment, a class activity, and homework/test assessment ideas.

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Learning Goals and Assessments

Learning Goal(s):

  1. Students practice conducting research and reporting their results.
  2. Students describe how deviance is relative to time and place.

Goal Assessment(s):

  1. Students practice conducting a survey with a given question using a convenience sample. They provide a written report of the respondents’ answers and a description of how they conducted their research. We discuss strengths and weaknesses in class.
  2. We compare their answers to the same 1965 survey. Students see how not only are contemporary answers different from each other, but also how over time that some groups are always considered deviant and many change.

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

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