Social Deviance

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Social Deviance Social deviance is a term that refers to forms of behavior and qualities of persons that others in society devalue and discredit. So what exactly is deviance? In this essay we are concerned with social deviance, not physiological deviations from the expected norm. In general, any behavior that does not conform to social norms is deviance; that is behavior that violates significant social norms and is disapproved of by a large number of people as a result. For societies to run with some semblance of order the problem of deviance is essential and intrinsic to any conception of social order. It is problematic because it causes a disruption, but it is essential because it defines our boundaries as a society. It is intrinsic to a conception of order in that defining what is real and expected, defining what is acceptable, and defining who we are - always done in opposition to what is unreal, unexpected, unacceptable and who we are not. If we can accept the reality of change, then designations of deviance are crucial in locating the shifting boundaries of our socially structured reality. (Erikson, 1964) What is perceived as deviant behavior is subject to change depending on our position, place and time. Different cultures have different levels of social order and control, therefore making what can be seen as a deviant behavior in one culture highly acceptable in another. When we define someone or some group as deviant - we strengthen our own position and simplify our response to the "other": we can ignore, expunge, destroy, or rehabilitate them. We convince ourselves of our own normalcy by condemning and controlling those who disagree. Deviance is a phenomenon situated in power: Winners are the good and the normal; Losers are the sick, the crazy, and the evil. Deviance therefore exists in opposition to those who attempt to control it - to those who have power. (Phofl, 1994) Deviance is not a matter of the cost or consequences of a particular behavior, or the behavior itself. Deviance is a label used to maintain the power, control, and position of a dominant group. It is a negotiated order. Deviance violates some groups assumptions about reality (social order). It violates expectations. The definition of deviance defines the threat and allows for containment and control of the threat. The definition of deviance preserv... ... middle of paper ... ...one is given the label of a deviant in order to understand deviance itself. (Haralambos, Holborn, van Krieken, Smith, 1996) It seems that it can be concluded that deviant behavior cannot be seen to be based entirely on the individuals involved. It is a social problem, brought about by the differing views and values instilled in each culture and society. Amazonian Indians walk around without any clothing, to them this is not a deviant act, in modern western society this is indeed an act of great deviance and one might find themselves arrested for it. So depending on the state of social order and associated norms acts of deviance differ greatly. Reference List Becker H. S., Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance, Free Press, New York, USA. Erikson K. T. 1964, Notes on the sociology of deviance, in The Other Side: Perspectives on Deviance, Free Press, New York, USA. Giddens A., 1997, Sociology 3rd edition, Polity Press, UK. Haralambos M. Holborn M. van Krieken R. & Smith P., 1996, Sociology- themes and perspectives, Longman, Melbourne, Australia. Phofl S. 1994, Images of Deviance and Social Control: A Sociological History, McGraw-Hill, USA.

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