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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.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
References in periodicals archive ?
Keywords: Deviant behaviour, conduct disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, opposition defiant disorder, adolescents
Respondents in this study indicated a low level of employee deviance with mean scores of 1.95, 1.95, and 2.03 for the deviant behavior toward organization, deviant behavior toward work and interpersonal deviance respectively.
Kenny MacDonald A former Labour councillor has been reprimanded for calling two people "deviants"on social media.
Deviant workplace behaviors are prevalent in organizations, with most firms reporting diverse types of deviance-related behaviors, being an effect of the employee--co-worker exchange link.
He deplored the fact that this deviant group is continuing its heinous and criminal acts which contravene all the Islamic precepts.
The 2013 book Deviant and Criminal Behavior in the Workplace addresses the psychological constructs, situations, and environments underlying active counterproductive workplace behaviors.
With a description of treatment such as the one provided above by Goocher (1994), it would not be surprising to learn that, in some jurisdictions, adolescents who have committed sexual crimes have routinely been removed from their homes--regardless of the nature of their crimes--subjected to polygraph and penile plethysmograph (PPG) examinations, aggressively and repeatedly confronted regarding the details of their past sexual crimes, and asked to engage in punishment-based behavioral procedures--designed for adults--that are intended to alter their presumed deviant sexual arousal.
of Denver), this is the seventh edition of an anthology about deviant behaviors, and how people define and manage deviance.
In past, research (Freisthler, Byrnes, & Gruenewald, 2009; Soenens, Vansteenkiste, Smits, Lowet, & Goossens, 2007) has pointed out that if deviant behaviors cannot be indentified and corrected as they occur, adolescents might do something uncontrollable or unredeemable later in their lifetimes.
Deviant Subkulture is a tattoo parlour in Zamalek which says it operates, just like all other parlours, from the underground scene.
A group of gay and lesbian alumni of Franciscan University voiced their concern in a statement to local TV news station WTOV, arguing that calling homosexuality "deviant" is both out of step with the scientific community's views and offensive to gay and lesbian students.
After it received complaints about the course description, the school released a written statement to NPR in which it said that "the term "deviant," school officials say, is meant to signify "different than the norm."