abnormal

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abnormal

deviating from the usual pattern of behaviour (or social structure), especially where this is viewed as maladjustment or DYSFUNCTION.

Any sociological use of the term faces the problem of determining ‘normality’. For example, DURKHEIM made the assumption that the average social form at a particular level of social development was also the functional form. However, whilst conceptions of functional normality and abnormality may be relatively clear in relation to biological organisms, the utility of these concepts in sociology has been widely questioned. With the exception of Durkheim and functionalist sociology, sociologists have usually conceptualized individual and social variability and deviation from established patterns of behaviour in other terms than ‘normality’ and ‘abnormality’. See also DISABILITY.