Elite Deviance Theoretical Background and Chapter 1-2 Outline




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TitleElite Deviance Theoretical Background and Chapter 1-2 Outline
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Elite Deviance

  • Theoretical Background and Chapter 1-2 Outline


Deviance and Power- Anderson Review

  • The act of designating deviance is one of power. Those who determine deviance have more power than those who do not and they also receive power from the very designation itself.

  • The power to designate something as acceptable or unacceptable (deviant) is not evenly distributed in society. It is, for the most part, a power those with the greatest amounts of capital (social, financial, human, and personal) enjoy. The power to designate deviance is largely sent down to the masses from the powers above (institutions and wealthy people and business and other organizations).



Reiman on Defining Crime and Deviance by Harm Inflicted

  • Carnival Mirror= The criminal law does not provide an adequate ‘mirror’ of injurious acts. It seriously distorts the relationship between crime and harm the way a carnival mirror in a fun house distorts the image of people standing in front of it.

  • How Crime is Defined= Reiman questions the notion that the typical criminal is young, urban, poor, and minority. He argues that this image is created through a series of decisions by people in the criminal justice system and it is these decisions that serve to filter or create the reality of crime we see. Specifically, the social reality of crime is created by the decisions of (a) legislators about what to define as crime (b) police and prosecutors about whom to arrest and charge (c) judges and juries in conviction (d) sentencing judges about the appropriate punishment (e) the media in what to report as a crime’ and an ‘accident’ and (f) all these decisions taken together.

  • Crime= Injury levied. Some of the most injurious acts are not included in the criminal law. People might feel the criminal law does reflect the worst social harms and that corporate violence does not rise to the same level because: (a) executives do not purposely try to harm people, (b) that indirect harm is not as bad as direct harm, (c) injuries occurring in the course of legitimate productive activity are not as bad as injuries from criminal acts and (d) people freely consent to many hazards, such as occupational exposure.



Deviance Severity

  • While many things and people may be defined as deviant, the seriousness of the deviant designation varies from minor to major. Violation of folkways, for example, is considered minor deviation. e.g., eating your dinner with your hands instead of utensils. Violation of mores (societal norms with broad appeal) is more serious, e.g., drug addiction, birth out of wedlock. Violation of laws is the most serious. Social reaction and penalty vary accordingly.

  • How do we rate corporate crime and political corruption/wrong-doing? Break into groups and rate examples.

  • 0=Not wrong at all, 1=Minor seriousness, but not worthy of penalty, 2=Minor seriousness and treated as civil law violation only, 3=Serious and handled as criminal and civil violation, 4=Extremely serious and handled as criminal law with full prosecution.



Conflict Theory

  • Deviance is caused by economic and political forces in society.

  • Criminal law and the criminal justice system are viewed as vehicles for controlling the poor members of society.

  • The criminal justice system serves the rich and powerful.

  • Deviance and Crime are defined in ways that meet the needs of those who control society.



Conflict Theory (cont.)

  • Crime is a function of the extent of conflict generated by stratification, hierarchical relationships, power differentials, or the ability of some groups to dominate other groups in that society



Conflict Theory (cont.)

  • Crime, in short, is caused by relative powerlessness

  • Conflict theory has two principal crime prevention implications:



Conflict Theory (cont.)

  • On the one hand, dominant groups could cede some of their power to subordinate groups, making subordinate groups more powerful and reducing conflict



Conflict Theory (cont.)

  • Increasing equality in that way might be accomplished by redistributing wealth through a more progressive taxation scheme, for example



Conflict Theory (cont.)

  • On the other hand, dominant group members could become more effective rulers and subordinate group members better subjects



Conflict Theory (cont.)

  • To do so, dominant groups would have to do a better job of convincing subordinate groups that the current inequitable distribution of power in society is legitimate and in their mutual interests



Conflict Theory (cont.)

  • Members of subordinate groups, in turn, must either believe it or resign themselves to their inferior status



Conflict Theory (cont.)

  • Either way, dominant group members hope that over time subordinate group members will learn to follow those who dominate them



Mill’s and the Power Elite

  • P. 14- Dominant institutional structures of American Life comprise a power elite of the largest corporations, the federal government, and the military.

  • These dominant institutions are headed by elites, i.e., people whose positions within organizations have provided them with the greatest amounts of wealth, power and prestige.

  • Immediately below this power elite is a subgroup of organizations that comprise the mass media. Their source of power is communications- or the control of the dissemination of information.

  • The corporate, political, and military worlds are inter-related in numerous ways. These inter-relationships mean that the deviance within this elite often involve two or more organizations. Power and private wealth are concentrated in the hands of the elite.



What Evidence is there of a Power Elite in the U.S.?

  • Control over resources such as education, prestige, status, skills of leadership, information, ability to communicate etc.

    • Industry stats on p. 15
    • Transportation and Utilities
    • Banking
    • Insurance
    • Mass media


The BIG Picture Figure 1 (p. 21)

  • How are corporations, foundations, elite universities, mass media, think tanks, and political parties etc. inter-connected? (pp. 22-25).

  • While the figure is old, and some of the players have changed, the overall structural relationship between them remains the same.



What is Elite Deviance? (p. 35)

  • Another way to think about elite deviance is by the types of harms it inflicts. Acts that include the following types of harms:

    • 1. Physical Harms- death injury and illness.
    • 2. Financial Harms- fraud and related deprivation of consumer and investor funds.
    • 3. Moral Harms- negative role models that encourage deviance, distrust, cynicism, and alienation among nonelites.


More Types of Elite Deviance

  • Acts of Economic Domination (p. 36)

  • Crimes of Government and Government Control (p. 37)

  • Denial of Basic Human Rights (p. 37)



Consequences of Elite Deviance

  • Illness and Injury

  • Public confidence in corporations and government

  • Race and class bias in CJ system

  • Monetary costs to society and inflation

  • Growth of organized crime



Mill’s “Higher Immorality

  • Moral insensitivity among the most wealthy and powerful members of the U.S. corporate, political, and military elite (p. 47). An arrogance of believing one is above the law.

  • Others examples include:

    • A. unethical practices relating to executive salaries
    • B. Unfair executive and corporate tax advantage
    • C. Deliberate creation of crisis.
    • D. Manipulation of public opinion
    • E. Violation of anti-trust laws etc.
  • In What ways is the S & L debacle an example of the HI?



General parameters of HI

  • Corporate Compensation- Salaries, Taxes and Perks. Why is executive pay so high?

  • Welfare for the Well-Off: Tax Breaks. What does your author mean by the dual welfare system?

  • Asset Depletion Range: explain the deviance here

  • Taxes and Multinational Corporations

  • Misappropriated Charities



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