Deviance in a Sociological Context

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Deviance, in a sociological context, describes actions or behaviors that violate social norms, including formally-enacted rules as well as informal violations of social norms (e. g. , rejecting folkways and mores). It studies how these norms are created, how they change over time and how they are enforced. Norms are rules and expectations by which members of society are conventionally guided. Deviance is a failure to conform to these norms. Social norms are different in one culture as opposed to another. For example, a deviant act can be committed in one society that breaks a social norm there, but may be normal for another society.

Deviance is concerned with the process whereby actions, beliefs or conditions come to be viewed as deviant by others. In my case being a Latina woman, one of the norm in my culture is to get married at a young age to a man that would be able to support me, have a lot of kids and be home cooking, doing laundry, cleaning , basically being a “house wife” and go to church every Sunday. Deviance can be observed by the negative, stigmatizing social reaction of others towards these phenomena and that is why I decided to deviate from this norm. I chose Education.

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I chose to study hard and go to college and get at least my Master’s degree. I know that there might be consequences either good or bad, but this is what I would like to do. Many of us learn how behavior changes based on social situations as early as elementary school and for those late to learn surely by high school we all learn this strange and mysterious adaptation known as the changing of social behavior while in certain social situations. A high school prom is one good example of how all the diversified teens that attend a high school will for a large part conform to the standards set by high school proms.

There are some Functions of deviance. Deviant acts can be assertions of individuality and identity, and thus as rebellions against group norms of the dominant culture and in favor of a sub-culture. Deviance affirms cultural values and norms. It also clarifies moral boundaries, promotes social unity, encourages social change, and provides jobs to control deviance. “Certain factors of personality are theoretically and empirically related to workplace deviance, such as work environment, and individual differences. “Situated in the masculinity and deviance literature, this article examines a “deviant” masculinity that of the male sex worker, and presents the ways men who engage in sex work cope with the job. ” Cross-cultural communication as deviance. Cross-cultural communication is a field of study that looks at how people from different cultural backgrounds endeavor to communicate. All cultures make use of nonverbal communication but its meaning varies across cultures. In one particular country, a non-verbal sign may stand for one thing, and mean something else in another culture or country.

The relation of cross-cultural communication with deviance is that a sign may be offensive to one in one culture and mean something completely appropriate in another. Eye Contact: In the United States and Canada, eye contact is extremely important in conveying interest and attention. In many Middle Eastern cultures, intense eye contact between the same genders is often a symbol of trust and sincerity however, between opposite genders, especially in Muslim cultures, anything more than brief eye contact is considered inappropriate.

Additionally, in Asian, African, and Latin American cultures, extended eye contact is considered a “challenge. ” The Japanese tend to consider even brief eye contact uncomfortable. And, in some cultures, a woman should look down when talking to a man. Furthermore, Some beliefs in society will attract negative reaction, such as racism and homophobia and brings discrimination. For example People may have a condition or disease which causes others to treat them badly, such as having HIV or being obese.

Deviance is relative to time and place because what is considered deviant in one social context may be non-deviant in another (fighting during a hockey game vs. fighting in a nursing home). Killing another human is considered wrong except when governments permit it during warfare or for self-defense. The issue of social power cannot be divorced from a definition of deviance because some groups in society can criminalize the actions of another group by using their influence on legislators.

Moreover, labeling theory is one of the most important approaches to understanding deviant and criminal behavior within sociology. Howard S. Becker created and developed the labeling theory, which is a core facet of symbolic interactionism. Becker believed that “social groups create deviance by making the rules whose infraction constitutes deviance. “Labeling is a process of social reaction by the “social audience,”(stereotyping) the people in society exposed to, judging and accordingly defining (labeling) someone’s behavior as deviant or otherwise.

It has been characterized as the “invention, selection, manipulation of beliefs which define conduct in a negative way and the selection of people into these categories. Labeling theory, consequently, suggests that deviance is caused by the deviant’s being labeled as morally inferior, the deviant’s internalizing the label and finally the deviant’s acting according to that specific label(in other words, you label the “deviant” and they act accordingly).

As time goes by, the “deviant” takes on traits that constitute deviance by committing such deviations as conform to the label (so you as the audience have the power to not label them and you have the power to stop the deviance before it ever occurs by not labeling them). Individual and societal preoccupation with the label, in other words, leads the deviant individual to follow a self-fulfilling prophecy of abidance to the ascribed label . The labeling theory helps to explain this shift, as behavior that used to be judged morally are now being transformed into an objective clinical diagnosis.

For example stereotyping people with drug addictions are considered “sick” instead of “bad”. There is Primary and secondary deviation. Another idea was developed the idea of primary and secondary deviation as a way to explain the process of labeling. Primary deviance is any general deviance before the deviant is labeled as such. Secondary deviance is any action that takes place after primary deviance as a reaction to the institutional identification of the person as a deviant. When an actor commits a crime (primary deviance), however mild, the institution will bring social penalties down on the actor.

However, punishment does not necessarily stop crime, so the actor might commit the same primary deviance again, bringing even harsher reactions from the institutions. At this point, the actor will start to resent the institution, while the institution brings harsher and harsher repression. Eventually, the whole community will stigmatize the actor as a deviant and the actor will not be able to tolerate this, but will ultimately accept his or her role as a criminal, and will commit criminal acts that fit the role of a criminal.

Primary And Secondary Deviation is what causes people to become harder criminals. Primary deviance is the time when the person is labeled deviant through confession or reporting. Secondary deviance is deviance before and after the primary deviance. Retrospective labeling happens when the deviant recognizes his acts as deviant prior to the primary deviance, while prospective labeling is when the deviant recognizes future acts as deviant. One critique of labeling theory is that is emphasizes the interactive rocess of labeling and ignores the processes that lead to the deviant acts. Such processes might include differences in socialization, attitudes, and opportunities. A second critique of labeling theory is that it is still not clear whether or not labeling actually has the effect of increasing deviant behavior. In Conclusion, Deviance provides a way in which some individuals and groups can introduce their agendas to the rest of society, and elevate their own personal status while doing it.

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Deviance in a Sociological Context. (2016, Nov 27). Retrieved from

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