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

Most Helpful

By Kim Drnec on 08-01-14

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.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful


By MsTurkish on 11-29-15

Excellent content, though outdated

The content in this lecture is fascinating and intriguing, leaving the learner with a desire to know more about social theories and was constitutes deviance as we define it.

The lecturer is an excellent speaker, however the content is outdated, referencing cultural events that occurred in the 1990's. I would love an updated addendum to this lecture.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By C on 06-15-15

Thought provoking

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

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful


By Gregory Monk on 07-24-17

A tad dated but interesting all the same

Which scene did you most enjoy?

There were plenty of lectures that were interesting but the sociology of science was certainly something to ponder.

Any additional comments?

These lectures came out around the time of the OJ Simpson trial and so has references rooted around this time. I would be interested to learn where the study of social deviance has progressed to from that point.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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