A veteran PSU professor who specializes in studying crime and deviance has published a new anthology portraying deviant behaviors in different cultures. Dr. Robert Heiner has been studying deviant behavior for more than 20 years and Deviance Across Cultures is the last in a trilogy of anthologies he started 12 years ago. Heiner teaches Criminology, Social Problems and the Sociology of Deviance at PSU, where he’s been a faculty member since 1995.
“There’s been very little done in the study of deviant behavior from a cross-cultural perspective,” said Heiner. “I imagine most professors who compile anthologies do so because the ones that are currently on the market do not satisfy their teaching needs and I felt a cross-cultural perspective was sorely lacking in our age of globalization.”
Deviance Across Cultures is published by Oxford University Press, which describes the anthology as “a collection that builds on classic deviance theory and basic sociological concepts to introduce students to this complex subject with a rich global perspective.”
Heiner says it’s important and practical for students to study deviance from a cross-cultural
“It allows us new ways to think about the causes of our social problems and possible solutions to them,” noted Heiner. “If other societies, for example, have far less violent crime than we have in the United States, then we need to examine other differences between their societies and ours that might help us to understand our relatively high rates of violent crime. Likewise, when we consider the costs and benefits of our ‘war on drugs,’ a student educated in the field should be aware of the fact that the Netherlands has legalized marijuana and hashish on a limited basis and have found very few ancillary social problems resulting from this policy.”
In addition to his PSU faculty position, Dr. Heiner previously held a tenured post at Spring Hill College, in Mobile, Ala. and taught sociology for the University of Maryland on U.S. military bases overseas, including Korea, Japan and Germany. His teaching overseas, he says, impressed him “the importance of learning about other societies in order to better understand our own.”
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