SOCIOLOGY 100 – Discover Sociology by William Chambliss
(Textbook: Discover Sociology by William Chambliss and Daina Eglitis)
1. Crime and Power
Read this article fromRolling Stone Magazinewhich lays out the case that “criminals” got away with bringing down the national economy a few years ago.
After reading the article, do you think that executives from companies like AIG, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, and Morgan Stanley should have served jail time for their actions? Would different punishments for these crimes have resulted in more accountability? Who are the victims of these crimes? Discuss the relationship between power, crime, and punishment.
2. Formal Social Control: Prison Populations
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, putting more people per capita behind bars than any other nation. What factors, do you think, have led to such high rates of formal social control? Are programs such as mandatory minimum sentences and “three strikes” laws likely to lower crime rates? What are the racial, ethnic, class, and gendered implications of this nation’s strict sentencing norms?
3. Understanding Deviance
Marijuana use represents a type of contested deviant behavior. Some people feel that using marijuana is no more deviant than smoking cigarettes (perhaps less deviant), while others feel it should be criminalized. The debate surrounding marijuana exemplifies that what is considered deviant behavior changes over time and is dependent on context.
Recognizing that some states have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, others have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes, and others, including the federal government, hold fast to marijuana’s criminal category, do you believe that marijuana use is a deviant act? Why do you believe what you do? What are some common arguments to support the notion that marijuana should be considered deviant? Should not be considered deviant? In what way are these contradictions indicative of a pluralistic society?
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