Deviance, Morality, and Power

Making Sense of a Fractured America (First Edition)
Devereaux Kennedy
©2021, 266 pages

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Deviance, Morality, and Power

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Summary
    Deviance, Morality, and Power: Making Sense of a Fractured America explores how, reconceived and retooled, sociological approaches and concepts developed to understand deviance and normality can help us address the political, social, and cultural issues that have led to a deeply divided and conflict-ridden country.

    The text examines how social cohesion and stability is achieved and maintained through conflict in which groups with competing and conflicting material interests and moral visions struggle for power. It underscores how the United States embraces the seemingly contradictory ideals of individualism and popular rule, and how these conflicting ideals create an environment of competition and conflict. Readers are challenged to view deviance as a moral category connected to a moral vision of what kind of nation we believe we ought to strive to become and what kind of institutional order could embody that vision. The book proposes the reconsideration of key concepts and approaches in sociology to envision fresh applications for contemporary times and modern challenges.

    Featuring a fresh perspective of deviance as a fundamentally political process, Deviance, Morality, and Power is an ideal textbook for courses in sociology, especially those that examine deviance and modern applications of sociological theory.

    Read a letter written by the author, Dr. Kennedy, about the necessity of rethinking the study of society within the context of social rebellion, pandemics, global climate change, and the transformation of work, as well as how Deviance, Mortality, and Power can help students better understand the extraordinary times in which we live.

    Devereaux Kennedy earned his Ph.D. in sociology at Binghamton University. Dr. Kennedy is an emeritus professor of sociology at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, where he taught courses in sociological theory, as well as social deviance and social control. His research interests include social control and long-range, global social change.
    Other Cognella titles by Devereaux Kennedy:

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    Dr. Devereux Kennedy is available to speak to adopting professors via virtual office hours to discuss the text and how it can be used to support curriculum. He is also open to appearing virtually within courses by request. If you are interested in either of these options, please discuss with your Cognella adoption rep.
    "Deviance, Morality, and Power: Making Sense of a Fractured America is a great starting point for crucial conversations Americans need to have regarding modern day politics. Kennedy sets the stage by covering the political foundation of America, important sociological theorists, and different viewpoints from each side of the political spectrum. While aimed at students, with summary and reflection sections at the end of each chapter, Kennedy offers useful information to any reader. Coming at this topic from the unique angle of deviance and moral arguments, this book comes at a time when America could not be more divided."
    Lucretia Dunlap, Research Assistant and Student, Grand Valley State University

    "Dev has written the best book I have seen in the Social Sciences that effectively analyzes the current social structure and identifies the major political-cultural dynamics that are contributing to our current challenges. This text is requisite reading for any individual who is struggling to understand how and why our culture has developed into an almost completely bifurcated social and political experience. I will incorporate Dev's text into my classes in Social Psychology and The Sociology and Psychology of Culture. This text affords students the opportunity to learn how to think about complex social issues, not merely what to think about those issues."
    Joseph D. Vlah, Department of Social Behavioral Sciences, Flagler College

    "Authored with the recent generation in mind and heart, Deviance, Morality, and Power charts an indispensable map for comprehending the present and imagining our futures. Kennedy’s exploration of deviance and the foundations of sociological thought offer lucid illustrations of American culture, history, government, and landmark events underscoring societal and political fracturing of the 21st century. Young people especially will resonate with his appeal to recommit our research, practice, study—and consequently, ourselves—to positive social change. The second part of this text is energized by a moral and political analysis of unprecedented change. In the final chapters, Kennedy examines personal judgments on competing visions of American society and compels readers to develop their own evaluations of the crises we face. Deviance, Morality and Power offers refreshing clarity for students navigating a world of chaos, conflict, and uncertainty—succinctly interpreting how we got here and leaving us with a framework for reckoning with what lies ahead."
    Michaelyn Mankel, Student at Grand Valley State University

    "Deviance, Morality and Power by Professor Kennedy takes a critical look through a sociological lens that heretofore has been used almost exclusively in the examination and explanation of social deviance. The book is very reader friendly. Each chapter is introduced with reflection questions that alert the reader of what the chapter will examine in a way that immediately gets you thinking. Likewise, key terms and concepts are identified and then highlighted when used throughout the chapter. Finally, each chapter concludes with questions designed for the reader to critically asses the chapters content and for future discussion. Drawing from his previous work on deviance and combining his many years in the classroom, Kennedy retools different sociological theories that he uses very effectively to examine and provide analysis on the broader society today. Particularly relevant is the book’s analysis of our present day American Democracy. Kennedy provides a history and explanation of events that describe for the reader how we have gotten to where we are as a nation—a polarization of beliefs and views. The book will be effective in introducing students to sociological theories and its application to society today."
    Arthur Culbert, Ph.D., Sociologist and Former Dean and Professor, Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine

    "The world is in a very dangerous place; a major pandemic and its consequences, the mass movement of people around the world in search of a better life, and, above all, a life-threatening environmental crisis, all require unified global action, yet ever-increasing nationalism seems to make such action almost impossible. In such a time, people look for leadership and solutions: to the mass media, to each other (through social media) and, sometimes, to politicians. But they almost never look to social scientists, despite such people claiming to be ‘experts’ on human social life and public policy. But why? Why, when it is most needed, is social science largely seen as irrelevant?

    In
    Deviance, Morality and Power, Professor Kennedy argues that social scientists have failed because, in their pursuit of a philosophically-flawed notion of a ‘value-free’ science, they have largely ignored the fundamental truth that all societies need shared moral values if they are to survive and prosper. In a panoramic survey of modern US history and American social science, Kennedy shows that value-based consensuses are both created and lost politically, and what that teaches us about how social consensus may be recreated now in the USA. These are difficult questions, involving philosophy, politics, and economics as well as sociology. But in a text designed for teaching, Dev Kennedy manages to explain them in a way that will be readily accessible to any and all students and their teachers. This book is a triumph, intellectually and pedagogically."
    Gavin Kitching, Emeritus Professor of Politics, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

    "This timely and reader-friendly textbook provides an overview about how sociological concepts of deviance developed in the U.S. through social crises and political conflicts since the first gilded age until present day's conflagrations. In the second part, it elaborates on the dynamics of social construction of deviance and consensus through power and morality struggles and offers a pathway to overcome current divisions and fragmentation through the development of new shared moral visions and rational policies. Kennedy connects his theoretical introduction with real-world questions of how we should make society better and resolve practical societal problems through the development of reason, trust, and cohesion. This introduction inspires conversations and action with reflective questions, directions, graphs, pictures, and supplemental resources. An excellent resource for students in sociology, social work, criminal justice, and liberal studies, yet accessible to the the interested lay person, too."
    Hermann Kurthen, Grand Valley State University, Michigan