Types and Implications of Deviance In Sociology

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.

Definitions of Deviance

  • Horton and Hunt “The term Deviation is given to any failure to conform to customary norms”.

  • Louise Weston “Deviance can be defined as behavior that is contrary to the standards of conduct or expectations of a given group or society”.
  • M.B.Clinard suggests that the term deviance should be reserved for “those situations in which behavior is in a disapproved direction and of sufficient degree to exceed the tolerating limits of society”.

Theories Explaining Deviance

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.

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  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.

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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.

Types of Deviance

  • Illegal Drug Use,
  • Prostitution,
  • Mental illness,
  • Suicide,
  • Alcoholism and Homosexuality.

Deviance is Relative

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.

  • Psychological theories of Deviance as different from the population as a whole. Secondly, he is abnormal in a normal population. Third, his abnormality predisposes him to deviance. However, psychological theories differ in their claim that the deviant’s abnormality is learned rather than genetically determined. They see abnormal experience rather than abnormal genes as the basis of deviance. This experience produces ‘character defects’ and ‘maladjusted personalities’ which in turn produce deviance. Often Psychological theories argue that something has gone wrong with the socialization process, usually in the mother child relationship. This ‘defective Socialization’ involves emotional disturbance which leads to the formation of maladjusted personality traits.
  • As with Biological theories, Sociologists tend to dismiss psychological explanations of deviance. Firstly, they argue that such theories tend to ignore the social and cultural factors in the explanation of deviance. Secondly, they argue that the methodology of the studies is suspect. There is little agreement among psychologists about what constitutes mental health and on how to measure personality characteristics. Thirdly, many Sociologists reject the priority given to childhood experiences. Factors facilitating Deviance

H.M.Johnson had listed a few factors that facilitate deviance among which the following may be noted:

  1. Faulty Socialization
  2. Weak Sanctions
  3. Poor Enforcement
  4. Ease of Rationalization
  5. Ambivalence of the agents of Social Control
  6. Subcultural Support of Deviance
  7. Secrecy of Violation
  8. Poverty
  9. Lack of Education

Types of Deviance

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:

  1. Innovation
  2. Ritualism
  3. Retreatism
  4. Rebellion
  5. conformist

Implications of Deviance

  • Labeling- 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. The deviant is one to whom the label has successfully been applied; deviant behavior is behavior that people so label.
  • Stigma- Social stigma is the extreme disapproval of (or discontent with) a person or group on socially characteristic grounds that are perceived, and serve to distinguish them, from other members of a society
  • Primary and Secondary Deviation- 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
  • Differential Association- Differential Association is a theory developed by Edwin Sutherland proposing that through interaction with others, individuals learn the values, attitudes, techniques, and motives for criminal behavior.
  • Reference Groups
  • Subcultural Delinquent Groups

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Types and Implications of Deviance In Sociology. (2016, Apr 10). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/types-and-implications-of-deviance-in-sociology-essay

Types and Implications of Deviance In Sociology

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