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Compiled by Parul Parihar As Young and Mack have pointed out, “No norm is always obeyed; no individual always conforms to every set of expectations”. Hence, deviance, that is, the act of going against the rules or norms is there everywhere. Deviant Behaviour such as knavery, cheating, adultery, unfairness, crime, malingering, immorality, dishonesty, betrayal, burglary, corruption, cunningness, sneakiness, wickedness, gambling, drunkenness etc., go along with conformity.
Deviance may be defined as non-conformity to a given norm, or set of norms, which are accepted by a significant number of people in a community or society.
Deviance doesn’t just refer to individual behavior, but concerns the activities of groups as well. The Italian Criminologist Cesare Lombroso working in the 1870’s, claimed that certain people were born with criminal tendencies, throw backs to a more primitive type of human being. Criminal types, he believed could be identified by the shape of the skull. He accepted that social learning could influence the development of criminal behavior, but regarded most criminals as biologically degenerate or defective.
The idea of connection between biological make up and criminality was revived in the work of William A Sheldon in the 1940’s. Sheldon distinguished between three main types of human phyques. Claiming one to be directly associated with delinquency. Muscular, active types, (Mesomorphs), he proposed, are more likely to become delinquent than those of thin physique (Ectomorphs) or more fleshly people (Endomorphs). Even if there were an overall relationship between bodily type and delinquency, this would show nothing about the influence of heredity. People of the muscular type of physique Sheldon associated with delinquency may be drawn towards gang activities because they offer opportunities for the physical display of athleticism.
Deviance consists of those acts which do not follow norms and expectations of a particular group. Deviance may be positively sanctioned (rewarded), negatively sanctioned (punishment) or simply accepted 1without reward or punishment. Clinard regarded Crime and Delinquency as the most obvious forms of deviance. Crime refers to those activities which break the law of the land and are subject to official punishment; delinquency refers to the criminal activities of young people. However, many disapproved deviant acts are not defined as criminal. For example; alcoholism and attempted suicide are not illegal in Britain today.
It can only be defined in relation to a particular standard and no standards are fixed or absolute. As such deviance varies from time to time and place to place. Deviance is culturally determined and cultures change over time and vary from society to society.
H.M.Johnson had listed a few factors that facilitate deviance among which the following may be noted:
Robert Merton ‘s Structural Strain Theory gives vent to creation of four responses as evident in four deviant forms visible as a reaction towards failing to achieve Culturally defined Goals and Institutionally prescribed means towards reaching those goals:
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