Images of man and social control: Correlates and consequences

Darrell J. Steffensmeier, Renee Hoffman Steffensmeier

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Drawing on the theoretical writings of Stoll, Erickson and Friedson, the following report empirically examines how images of man and ideologies of deviance influence the ways in which individuals respond to deviant acts and deviant actors. The specific image of deviance dealt with in this research consists of expectations or beliefs about the perceived permanence of the deviant behavior and the extent to which the deviant is perceived to be incapable of change. This image of deviance is referred to in this report as the future behavior image of deviants (FBID). Experimental and survey data are used to provide information on both correlates and consequences of FBID. The consequences of FBID were operationalized in terms of both attitudinal and behavioral responses to shoplifting. In addition, since the shoplifting incidents were staged and involved the experimental manipulation of shoplifter's appearance (hippie vs. straight), the joint effects of reactions to shoplifting of appearance and acceptance of FBID are examined. It was found that while acceptance of FBID was not significantly related to reactions to shoplifting, there was a major interaction effect between acceptance of FBID and appearance. It was concluded that for low acceptors the appearance variable was a stronger determinant of reactions than for high acceptors of FBID. It was argued that low acceptors of FBID responded more to the identity in question than to the shoplifting behavior, whereas high acceptors responded more to the shoplifting behavior and less to the shoplifter's identity. This finding suggests that the relationship between images of deviation and reactions to deviance is more complex than that offered either in Stoll's or Erickson's analysis, neither of whom dealt with the effects that positive or negative identities of the deviant might have on this relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-54
Number of pages14
JournalCriminal Justice Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1979

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law


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