Study Questions for
Pfohl's Images of Deviance and
- How does this theory text claim to be unique from others?
- What ultimately makes a person criminal or deviant?
- Where do criminological theorists fit in Pfohls tri-part typology of deviance?
Chapter 1: Introduction
- In what fundamental ways are deviance and social control always related?
- Why has the attempt to categorize offenders by their "dangerousness" to others
been focused on certain types of criminals while ignoring equally dangerous others?
- What differentiates a theoretical perspective from a formal theoretical perspective or a
- If you had to add Pfohl to our theorists database, after reading only the first
chapter, where would you place him in each category?
Chapter 2: Demonic Perspective
1. What are the two major types of demonic deviance? When might they be related?
2. Discuss some of the types of evidence which have been used to prove demonic forces are
3. What types of responses have societies used to eliminate or lessen demonic deviance?
4. Why have women and homosexuals suffered under many regimes based upon the
5. Compare contemporary liberal and conservative demonic interpretations of evil.
6. Why do most criminologists reject demonic interpretations yet many people see them as
still viable today?
Chapter 3: Classical Perspective
3. What impact did the classical perspective have in Europe and America over the
hundred years following its inception?
1. What were the major changes happening in European society that gave birth to the
2. In what ways does the classical perspective remain fundamentally dependent on
religiously grounded ideas?
4. Why has the classical perspective become so popular again in the late 20th Century?
5. Are the classical model's basic tenets empirically testable? What do we really know
about the impacts of deterrence?
Chapter 4: Pathological Perspective
3. Give examples of pathological theories which are based on circular reasoning.
1. What factors explain the emergence and persistence of pathological perspectives of
deviance despite lack of genuine scientific evidence?
2. How could scientists come to the conclusion that external physical appearance might be
related to criminal behavior?
4. Why have some of the treatment methods developed by pathological theorists had impacts
on reducing deviant behavior?
Chapter 5: Social Disorganization
3. In what ways are the social control theories of Reckless and Hirschi best
categorized as more contemporary versions of social disorganization theory?
1. Why did the social disorganization perspective as developed in Chicago during the
1920's enjoy such popular acceptance?
2. How did researchers who supported the social disorganization perspective combine
quantitative and qualitative techniques in their studies?
4. What are the major shortcomings of social disorganization theory?
Chapter 6: Functionalist Perspective
3. How should we determine how much deviance is beneficial for a society?
1. Why did the functionalist perspective in the 1950s replace the Chicago School's
social disorganization perspective?
2. Why is the functionalist perspective ultimately neither unverifiable or falsifiable
through empirical research? How did Merton attempt to avoid tautology
and false teleology in his revisions of functionalist
4. What are the major benefits of the functionalist theory of criminality? Who benefits
least from functionalist deviance?
Chapter 7: Anomie
3. What types of programs could best lessen anomic deviance? Why has it been so
difficult to institute them?
1. What are the major differences between anomie theory and social disorganization?
2. How do Durkheim's and Merton's version of anomie differ?
4. What accounts for the popularity of anomie and strain theories within sociological
Chapter 8: Learning
3. From what additional resources does modern social learning theory drawn upon?
1. Can you think of examples that don't seem to fit Tarde's 3 laws of imitation?
2. In what ways was Sutherland's differential association tied to social disorganization?
4. What are the largest obstacles in attempting to validate learning theory?
Chapter 9: Societal Reaction Perspective
3. Why is this perspective so damaging to psychological explanations of deviant
1. Where have labeling theorists focused their research efforts?
2. Why did this perspective emerge in the 1960s?
4. What are the major criticisms of the societal reaction perspective?
Chapters 10 & 11: Critical Perspectives
1. In what ways does Pfohl use the following terms:
(1) deconstruction (2) power reflexive (3) hegemony?
2. How our knowledge and power related to criminal justice?
3. In what ways is critical theory a response to the events of 1960's?
4. Discuss how critical theory's focus upon the oppressed (minorities, women,
and homosexuals) shaped its view of the contemporary criminal justice.
5. Detail the use of Marxian concepts within critical theory.
6. Given its rejection of positivistic social science, is it possible to
validate the precepts of critical theory?