deviance


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Related to deviance: Social deviance

deviance

any social behaviour which departs from that regarded as ‘normal’ or socially acceptable within a society or social context. Whilst deviance includes criminal behaviour, its sphere is far wider than this. Furthermore, not all criminal behaviour will always be labelled as deviance, e.g. minor traffic offences (see also CRIME, CRIMINOLOGY).

Although there are some recurring elements among the forms of social behaviour regarded as deviant within society, for the most part social deviance must be seen as a socially relative phenomenon, in that conceptions of normality and deviance are relative to social context and highly variable between different societies, different subcultures, etc.

As emphasized by Erving GOFFMAN, there is also an important sense in which all social actors are deviant in that no one conforms to all the canons of socially acceptable behaviour, none of us entirely fits any social ideal, and we are all sometimes in situations in which we are socially deviant.

A further crucial question is, ‘What or who within society determines “deviance"?’ As stressed by BECKER (1963), ‘deviance is not a quality of the act… but rather a consequence of the application by others of rules and sanctions’. Thus, the question of by whom, and how, deviance is ‘labelled’ becomes crucial to its explanation (see LABELLING THEORY).

Two main sociological approaches to the study of deviant behaviour can be identified. The first approach includes functionalist accounts of deviance. For example, in the work of DURKHEIM, two complementary usages of the term ‘deviance’ are found. In The Rules of Sociological Method (1895), he describes crime as ‘normal’, in that it is a universal phenomenon in societies, and is functional in that the concepts and ceremonies surrounding crime provide a ‘social reaction’ to crime and a ritual ‘reaffirmation’ of social values which strengthens the social order. In Suicide (1897), Durkheim focuses on deviance as a social problem arising from ‘abnormal’ or ‘pathological’ forms of social solidarity particularly excessive individualism (‘egoism’) and ANOMIE.

Modern functionalist accounts of crime have largely followed Durkheim's. For example, for Parsons, deviance results from inadequate socialization, while Merton directly builds on Durkheim's concept of‘anomie’.

The second approach has developed, in particular, in opposition to the ‘positivism’ seen as underlying orthodox criminology and related approaches to the study of deviance. The starting point of such an alternative approach was the LABELLING THEORY of Becker and others. This was combined, especially in the work of the Radical Deviance Theorists (e.g. Taylor et al., 1973), with a revival of general critical debates about deviance and social control, including Marxian theories of crime. See also PRIMARY AND SECONDARY DEVIANCE, DEVIANCE AMPLIFICATION. NATIONAL DEVIANCY CONFERENCE. Compare FOUCAULT.

References in periodicals archive ?
While Content Neutral Facilitation galvanises people positively around "what could be," frees up creative problem-solving energy and starts new conversations, Positive Deviance allows people to open up their understanding and appreciation of "what is," revealing many talents and practices that can be recognised and leveraged quickly.
The bottom row of graphs in Figure 2 charts the trend line for the change in deviance per degree of freedom over the course of the campaigns.
In addition to the workshops, the Symposium has added a plenary session for all registrants on Positive Deviance and a book signing event for the recently released "Power of Positive Deviance" on the evening of November 5[sup.
The technical deviation contributing to the normalisation of deviance in the regulation of complementary medicines in South Africa is that none of these medicines has had to provide independent evidence of their quality.
In the case of the shuttle Challenger, the NASA team had become so comfortable with seeing occasional O-ring damage and getting away with it, the original standard, in which any O-ring damage was defined as intolerable deviance, no longer was considered.
Pfohl, Images of Deviance and Social Control (New York, NY: McGrawHill, 1994), 83.
By using positive deviance, the change process goes from outside in to inside out.
Further, employees who are targets of workplace deviance are more likely to quit, have stress-related problems, decreased productivity, low morale, lost work time (O'Leary-Kelly et al.
At the other end of this spectrum of deviance are the "exceptional" examples of crime, the most serious or unusual offenses that seize the public imagination, either paralyzing communities with fear, or eliciting levels of collective outcry that result in public protest and, in the extreme, vigilante action.
A single work communicates with elegant subtlety and wisdom, more sass, sexual deviance and inappropriateness than our entire record could possibly evoke.
Take, for example, a study from the Journal of Interpersonal Violence (January 2004) entitled "Sexual Deviance Among Male College Students.
The contribution of nonhuman surveillance systems to variability in human risk was determined by calculating the proportion of the deviance explained ([R.