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Deviance and Society

Updated on March 28, 2016
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Unsa is a Psychology major, and is also minoring in Sociology. She hopes to become a therapist and help make a positive difference.

Amongst many definitions, Sociology is the study of the different facets of society, the different social systems engraved within, the different mannerisms we as a society have adapted to as per the 21st century code, and the study of the gradual change in belief towards different conducts that have the potential to disrupt society. Deviant behavior is the epitome of practices that has the potential to disrupt society, however, our beliefs could possibly change regarding the actor as it profoundly relies on a situation/circumstances basis.

Everyone describes deviance differently, and that is widely acceptable as people come from different social dynamics; race, religion, social circles, environments, and social class. Vygotskys sociocultural theory is closely tied to this, as our social dynamics and our daily interactions are likely to impact the way in which we perceive and make judgment’s regarding unusual behavior. Hence, deviant behavior relies on the eye of the observer.

Personally, deviance is a term utilized to describe something that is out of the ordinary that is a truth in itself. Correspondingly, deviant behavior is labeled deviant, as it is a way of behaving we would normally not encounter on a daily basis. For example, if I were to travel overseas and see a different way of greeting, one that I am not used to seeing, I would label it as deviant. However, rather than dismissing the greeting negatively I would try to symbolically interpret it. In contrast, seeing someone sell drugs would also be deviant as it is something I am not used to seeing but also due to the negative connotations society has set towards drugs. Sociologically, most often then not deviant behavior is not likely to conform to norms that are set by society. This description fits the structural strain theory that describes culture as well as social structure setting goals for the way in which people will behave. An imbalance of cultural as well as structural goals is what is likely to lead an individual to commit to deviant behavior. However, if society is almost always moving towards a more individualistic “free” stage congruently these set norms are adjusting to fit these changes. As per the structural strain theory, deviants would be labeled “rebels” as these individuals are rejecting cultural and societal goals and substituting their own. While a deviant can have different roles, it is important to establish a balance between ones deviant role and ones “social” role intrinsically so as to avoid harms way and be rejected.

The most serious form of deviance in our society is rejection. As mentioned earlier, society is moving towards a more “free” stage, and while that can be taken into different context, it is important to establish that free in this situation means being able to practice religion without being rejected but also equality for both women and men. The media has the tendency to exaggerate and hinder the way people perceive certain situations therefore people are unlikely to form their own opinions and instead conform to what a power source has to say. When people are rejected and or unaccepted for the way they are in a way it is likely to cause a bigger disruption than deviants act themselves. Terrorism, while violent and disruptive, can occur due to rejection. If people were widely accepted, and a majority of the population kept an open mind towards understanding the logistics behind deviant behavior society would relatively be at more peace as opposed to holding false judgments and playing the blame game which leads to an unharmonious balance in society.

Deviant Behavior

Do you agree with the definition of deviance described in this article? (If no, please comment your take on deviance)

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© 2016 Unsa Memon


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      Unsa Memon 16 months ago

      I agree, and I have utmost respect for people who take the time to understand deviant behavior as opposed to turning to rejection. Everyone has their own vices, and if "America" practices freedom than it should not be a big problem. However, that is not the case. Often times, freedom is taken out of context. What are ways, we as a society, can implement to promote understanding between one another?

    • Michaela Osiecki profile image

      Michaela 16 months ago from USA

      I think society's reaction to deviance is the most disruptive thing.