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June 03 , 2009

Zapotec Deviance

The Convergence of Folk and Modern Sociology


Henry Selby's ethnographic study of the Zapotec Indians of a small community in the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico, reveals that the notion of the social basis of deviance is implicit in Zapotec thinking. Zapotecs recognize that crime and deviance arise out of society, and their methods of reducing criminal behavior are based on social networks and their dynamics. Professor Selby's consideration of witchcraft and deviant sexual behavior among the Zapotecs demonstrates how a deeper understanding of the rules upon which their society is based is necessary to an understanding of Zapotec ideas of deviance. The intent of this study is to show how in a contemporary traditional community the logic of the interactionist approach to the understanding of deviance has been borne out in detail. The transcultural comparisons, in many instances, can lead us to reexamine our own ideas about law and order.

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