Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: November 23, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412959193 | Print ISBN: 9781412959186 | Online ISBN: 9781412959193| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Erikson, Kai T.: Wayward Puritans
Jared M. Hanneman
Wayward Puritans: A Study in the Sociology of Deviance was written by Kai T. Erikson and published in 1966. Erikson uses the Puritan colony in Massachusetts Bay as a case study to examine ideas about deviant behavior. Erikson's arguments are premised upon the Durkheimian theoretical perspective characterized by the ubiquity, inevitability, and positive functions of crime in a society. Wayward Puritans has enduring importance in that it analyzed the concept that powerful members in society will define deviance in such a way as to maintain that power. This contribution led to a bridge between structural-functionalist and conflict perspectives in the sociology of deviance. In the opening chapter, Erikson lays out the plan for the work, listing three themes. The first is that deviance changes according to a society's characteristics or needs. Erikson's second theme is that the volume of deviance in a society will remain constant over time. Specific acts ...