Assessing the extent of deviance in modern societies is methodologically and sociologically complicated, controversial and at times highly politicized. Thus it is possible to find sociologists miles apart on the question of whether deviant behaviors are on the rise or not. Not surprisingly, how one decides to measure deviance or ignore it, will play a critical role in determining one’s assessment of it.
After you’ve read Moynihan’s “Defining Deviance Down” and Karmen’s review of Moynihan’s analysis, examine how the authors stand relative to one another, how they are measuring the levels of deviance in American society, and how concerned they are about it. Be sure to discuss what it might take to settle what appears to be a dispute between the two sociologists. They are in disagreement with one another, aren’t they?