National Deviancy Conference

National Deviancy Conference

a group of British sociologists, prominent in the late 1960s and 70s, interested in reconstituting ‘traditional’ criminology and the sociology of DEVIANCE. One of the founder members of the NDC (Cohen, 1981) summarized its interests as including four main themes:
  1. to emphasize the sociological dimension of criminology and integrate it into ‘mainstream’ sociological interests;
  2. to extend the insights of LABELLING THEORY and SOCIETAL REACTION theory in a more structurally and politically aware way;
  3. to emphasize the importance of the deviants’ own understandings and meanings;
  4. to recognize the political character both of defining and of studying crime and deviance.

As Cohen argues, the ‘ineptly named’ NDC was important as a vehicle for developing new approaches to deviancy (sometimes known as radical deviancy theory), and laying the basis, for instance, for ‘critical criminology’ and later VICTIMOLOGY studies and for radical approaches in Social Work theory and practice (see RADICAL SOCIAL WORK). The emphasis on critical and political issues was very much of its time, and, as external political realities changed and internal theoretical divergences were developed, the NDC fragmented, although its influence is evident in the development and greatly increased status of criminological and deviancy issues within sociology.

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