Sociology Index


Primary deviance is engaging in the initial act of deviance and secondary deviance is the stage in which one internalizes a deviant identity by integrating it into their self-concept. A person's self can be stigmatized or tainted by public labeling according to labeling theory. The work of Erving Goffman showed that when a person is labelled with a particularly 'discrediting' social attribute, this can serve as a permanent mark or stigma upon their character. Secondary deviance is contrasted to primary deviance which may be behaviorally identical to secondary deviance but is incorporated into a normal sense of self. Edwin Lemert argues that in primary deviance there is first of all an act that deviates from the normatively expected behavior.

Edwin Lemert argued that primary deviance is often a temporary transgression in which perpetrators have no conception of themselves as deviant. Edwin Lemert made a further distinction between primary deviance, the initial rule-breaking act, and secondary deviance, the labelled person's response of defense, attack or adaptation to the problems caused by the social reaction to their initial deviance.

One may, as primary deviance, get drunk several times because one sees oneself as enjoying a party. If one notices that friends are hiding their liquor during visits to their house, secondary deviance gets triggered, one may come to see oneself as a drunk and then continue to get drunk. The first acts are primary deviance and the second act is secondary deviance. The first act probably brings a reaction from the social context, since it violates norms. The reaction often involves admonition not to deviate again, and perhaps punishment.

Edwin Lemert's secondary deviance refers to deviant behavior which flows from a stigmatized sense of self; the deviance is thought to be consistent with the character of the self. Lemert wisely suggests that some instances of deviance in this pattern are probably simply clumsy and unintended. The individual's self identity is therefore vulnerable to social judgements and appraisals, and once again we see the constant interplay between mind, self and society, according to George Herbert Mead.

Stigmatization Among Probationers - Andreas Schneider ; Wayne McKim. Abstract: Drawing on the concepts of primary deviance and secondary deviance provided by labeling theory, the authors set out to determine whether probationers experience stigmatization from within or from others in their community. Questions focused on probationers perceptions of how employers, family, the community, law enforcement, and friends viewed them as a result of their probation placement in order to establish the presence of primary deviance. Probationers were also asked about their perceptions of themselves to establish primary deviance.

The Shell, the Stranger and the Competent Other - Towards a Sociology of Shyness - Susie Scott, Cardiff University.
In contemporary Western societies, shyness appears to be an increasingly common experience, and yet its sociological relevance has been overlooked. Within psychology, the condition has been seen as an individual pathology, and there has been little attempt to relate this to the wider cultural context. It is suggested that it is normal for people to drift into isolated episodes of shyness as primary deviance.