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Explaining Social Deviance | [The Great Courses]

Explaining Social Deviance

How do deviants reconcile their behavior with society's norms? This set of 10 lectures examines the complex topic of deviance and how major sociological theories have attempted to define it and understand its role in both historical and modern society. Professor Wolpe introduces deviance as "a complex, often ambiguous, social phenomenon that raises numerous questions about how a varied and often arbitrary set of characteristics can be used to name the same idea."
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Publisher's Summary

How do deviants reconcile their behavior with society's norms? This set of 10 lectures examines the complex topic of deviance and how major sociological theories have attempted to define it and understand its role in both historical and modern society. Professor Wolpe introduces deviance as "a complex, often ambiguous, social phenomenon that raises numerous questions about how a varied and often arbitrary set of characteristics can be used to name the same idea."

Intended for those with some understanding of sociology, these lectures trace Western theories of deviance from classical demonism to constructionism. Along the way, you'll get a chance to investigate a range of fascinating, thought-provoking, and sometimes even frightening topics and issues.

You'll discover the relationship between deviance and criminology, and come to terms with three major sociological perspectives on deviance in human society. You'll explore the concept of demonism, with divides the world into good and evil, and see how it's often been used to explain and categorize bad behavior when no other explanations are available. You'll learn about the influence of science on sociological thought as proposed by a range of important thinkers, as well as the impact of this science on everything from the IQ controversy to the eugenics movement to Social Darwinism.

Professor Wolpe has crafted an engaging series of discussions that are sure to have you looking at the world around you (and the people in them) in a new way.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©1995 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1995 The Great Courses

What Members Say

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4.2 (49 )
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  •  
    Tom Arvada, CO, United States 01-30-14
    Tom Arvada, CO, United States 01-30-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Great grounding for social deviance"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Explaining Social Deviance to be better than the print version?

    The added value of the audio version is the inflection of the professors voice giving you additional insight into what he is trying to communicate.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Explaining Social Deviance?

    Control theory as roughly analogized to his daughter taking a lollipop off the store counter. Another memorable moment was the story about 'Monster'.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The conversations about labeling in combination with differential association was the most interesting to me because I think it speaks to some of the violent behavior we see in schools these days.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I listened to each chapter during my commute which is about an hour each direction.


    Any additional comments?

    The format is structured like a college lecture, but the tone is conversational and very easy to listen to and enjoy.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim Drnec Washington DC 08-01-14
    Kim Drnec Washington DC 08-01-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Deviance is not as deviant as you might think!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Explaining Social Deviance to be better than the print version?

    Don't know


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Explaining Social Deviance?

    When it becomes clear that deviance is not necessarily a bad, or unusual thing


    What about Professor Paul Root Wolpe’s performance did you like?

    His intonation and narrative is interesting. If you enjoy learning about a somewhat dry topic he makes it interesting. I never was bored.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, it's got too much information in it. Need to digest slowly.


    Any additional comments?

    I never thought about deviance as he presents it. I listened to it to try and understand why some people are so evil. He doesn't really discuss this but presents theories of deviance from a social science perspective which I was unaware of.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taylor Haswell 07-07-15
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    "Fascinating history. Specious logic."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    This series should have been called Constructionist (or Learning Theory): A Debunking of Hard Science.

    Paul Wolpe spends the first 5 hours (7 lectures) detailing the fascinating history of pseudo-scientific theory of phrenology before introducing the origin of modern Sociological theory.

    These stories run parallel to numerous arguments on the fluid and arbitrary definition of "deviance" and what constitutes deviant behavior. This was precisely what I was hoping for from this lecture series.

    And then everything changed. "Explaining Social Deviance" is not truly the crux of this course. Instead the title is merely an entry point for Wolpe to make broader, unrelated philosophical arguments.

    By the 10th lecture Wolpe devolves into an unexpected (and fundamentally incorrect) deconstruction of "Hard Science," during which he tries to discredit the Theory of Evolution and the Scientific Method in general. He implies that the laboratory is unnatural (ie. the use of genetically modified lab mice and purified water not available anywhere on the planet) and therefore the tests and discoveries made therein are also unnatural.

    To Wolpe, the tenets of mathematics and science are deceptive and dangerous: He doesn't care much for isolating variables, creating repeatable tests, and ensuring that his theories are falsifiable. Sadly, it is the neglect of these very tenets that leads to the creation of damaging pseudosciences, which he warned against at the opening of the series.

    Wolpe's conclusions left me disappointed, disheartened, and reminded of Richard Feynman's wise words regarding Science: "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool."

    Mr. Wolpe has fooled himself (and many, many others according to his academic credentials). I hope he does not fool you.


    Would you ever listen to anything by The Great Courses again?

    Absolutely. I have enjoyed 10 other Great Courses lectures and have many more awaiting in my queue.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 07-06-15 Member Since 2014
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    "An Unscientific History of Subjective Views"
    What would have made Explaining Social Deviance better?

    An empirical and evidence based analysis of deviant behavior applying the modern scientific study of neurology, psychiatry, genetics, and biology.


    Would you recommend Explaining Social Deviance to your friends? Why or why not?

    I would not recommend it to anyone seeking factual knowledge beyond a study of historical perspectives.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Wolpe adequately explains the historical thinking on social deviance leading up to the modern scientific perspective. He speaks clearly and articulately, and he conveys the material energetically and thoroughly.


    Any additional comments?

    These lectures convey the history of human thought on social deviance from a purely philosophical perspective. The course is not scientific, it misrepresents modern naturalistic concepts, and it fails to describe social deviance from a modern intellectual standpoint.

    The course takes a chronological approach, discussing historical ideas on deviance from ancient times forward. The lecturer references philosophers and pre-science scholars from every period, such Hobbes, Descartes, Freud, and Marx. Each lecture adequately describes one kind of historical thinking on social deviance, building on any that came before. By the final three or so lectures, the listener has been given an overview of sociological thinking up to and including the turn of the 20th century.

    The final three lectures attempt to explain modern views on social deviance, but it is clear that the lecturer lacks the background or understanding necessary to do so adequately. Fields such as behavioral genetics, neuroscience, modern psychology, science based medicine, and even the scientific method are completely ignored at best. At worst, they are improperly described, mischaracterized, and rejected. This leaves the listener with a shaky, half formed theory based on pure philosophy--unsupported by empirical evidence and mired by circular and fallacious reasoning. It places scientific, evidence-based ideas in the same category as creationism, parapsychology, and pseudoscience--in the lecturer's own words!

    This course does not belong in any serious intellectual study of human behavior. Rather, it is a historical perspective on philosophies of human deviance.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Synesthë 04-22-15
    Synesthë 04-22-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Very interesting subject"

    This audiobook was very interesting, definitely met my expectations. The professor explains how and why social deviance is so variable across time periods and cultures, and gives you the tools to understand different incentives to creating deviant behaviors in the first place. Great if you're interested in psychology, history, sociology, or politics.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy-Ann Schmierer 03-26-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Absolutely Brilliant to Listen to!!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, most definitely. The presenter knows his work, except in a couple of places where he humanly looses his place, otherwise, this is extremely interesting from a students perspective.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It is a number of Courses delivered by Professor Paul Root Wolpe who discusses Social Deviance and puts it forward on how it is perceived by society quite effectively. I have listened to is twice now and would quite happily listen to it again. Very easy listening. :)


    Which scene was your favorite?

    na


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    na


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Rodgers Cishek 03-03-15 Member Since 2013

    Kristi

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    "Excellent even if 20 years old"

    Speaker was trustworthy and objective. Excellent material even if way before 9/11. Would be interested to hear his evil subject inc terrorism which wasn't mentioned and wasn't an issue in 1995.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • C
    London, United Kingdom
    6/15/15
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    "Thought provoking"

    Found this course very interesting I only wish it had been updated for 2015 this is from 2004. A real shame.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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