Deviant Behavior And Deviance
What is deviance? What is deviant behavior? Who defines what is deviance? Are the same behaviors or people considered deviant in all historical errors and in all social contexts? Why do people engage in deviant behavior? How does society respond to deviant behavior? What measures or actions does society use or take to regulate, prevent, and punish deviance? what are the consequences of these efforts?
A group sociologists explain deviance in terms of broad social conditions in which deviance is most likely to grow, looking at the structural characteristics of society and groups within society (Merton, Cloward and Ohlin).
Some sociologists stress the importance of labeling or stigmatizing. Interpersonal reactions to deviance may have a significant effect of increasing the likelihood of subsequent deviant behavior (H.Becker)
A group of sociologists explain deviant behavior using the nature and characteristics of individuals focusing on those nature and characteristics that are most highly associated with learning deviant acts (Sutherland).
Deviance refers to violations of social norms (including legal norms) but many sociologists reject this behavioral or normative definition of deviance and see deviance instead as simply a label. Deviance in this view is that which we react to, through social control responses, as deviance.
Deviant behavior usually evokes formal and informal punishment, restrictions, or other controls of society. These formal and informal controls constrain most people to conform to social norms. Despite the social sanctioning and controlling, however, we sometimes observe deviant behavior around us. Then, why do some people engage in such deviant behavior even if social punishments are expected? Sociologists have attempted to explain it in various aspects.
Deviation, Primary: Where the individual commits deviant acts but does not adopt a primary self-identity as a deviant.
Deviation, Secondary: Where the individual commits deviant acts and although recognizing that these acts are socially defined as deviant remains committed to continue them. This results in the adoption of a deviant self identity that confirms and stabilizes the deviant life style.
The distinction between primary and secondary deviance is important in the development of social policies that reduce the chances of primary deviance inducing secondary deviance.
Primary Deviance is an initial deviant act. Deviant behaviors that are short-term or cease with adult status.
Primary Deviance is correlated with social, cultural, structural and psychological conditions.
Secondary deviance is deviance that results from being labeled as deviant. It evolves out of the offender's self-concept. It evolves from other's conception of a person.
Secondary Deviance is long-term and does not cease with adult status. Secondary Deviance includes chronic deviant behavior by people who come to identify themselves as deviant.
The concept of deviance: What is deviant behavior?
A. Deviance or accepted norms are created or defined by society through a general consensus. What is deviant is not a property inherent in the act of deviance.
B. Deviance does not conform to expectations and norms that exist within a society.
C. Group interests play important role in defining deviance.
D. Large or powerful segments of society determine norms and thus determine what is or is not deviant:
E. Observations of social interaction reveal that definitions of deviance tend to vary according to who performs the act.
F. Few people are arrested and processed as criminals, whereas, self-report surveys reveal most people violate rules.
G. Behavior must be context appropriate: what is normal in one context may be deviant in another.
H. The nature of deviance changes from culture to culture.
I. Deviance is noticeable historically because the nature of deviance changes over time
J. Deviant behavior is not a violation of anything absolute i.e., it is not inherent in any particular forms of behavior
K. In an analysis of deviance, the concept of relativism denotes that no behavior is "naturally" or morally deviant or bad.
Examples of Deviance as a violation of social norms
A. Folkways are the most informal of norms
Folkways include manners, etiquette, customs.
B. Mores are serious norms that may or may not be written into law
More includes flag burning, questioning someone's politics.
C. Laws are a type of norm with the support of the state or government sanctioning either criminal or civil punishment
Social control includes all social processes used to minimize deviance from social norms. There are two types of Social Control
Examples of direct & indirect social control
Sanctions are rewards for conforming behavior and punishments for deviant or nonconforming behavior.
A Moral Crusade is an interest group's attempt to define a behavior as deviant. Joseph Gusfield's study of alcohol prohibition concluded that the American Temperance Movement was an example of a Moral Crusade.
The functionalist perspective in deviance and social control is best represented by Emile Durkheim and Talcott Parsons. According to Durkheim, the positive consequences of deviance and social control include increased solidarity.
According to Durkheim & the Functionalists there are Positive Consequences of deviance and social control:
There are also Dysfunctions of Deviance in that Deviance beyond a certain level threatens the social order.