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What is Deviance? An Interview Analysis

Updated on December 27, 2017

What is Deviance?

Deviance can be defined in many ways, it can be a simple attitude or action, however, not all deviance involves action or choice. Theories of deviance are:

  • Symbolic Interaction Theory – There are no behaviors that are intrinsically deviant, deviant actions are simply those that are defined as deviant
  • Structural-Functional Theory – Views deviance as a basic portion of social organization that exists in all societies and it sets moral boundaries
  • Social Conflict Theory – Views deviance as an outcome of social inequality


"Not all deviance is negative; without it, we'd never change the world."

— Stacy Pershall

Interview Number One

The first interview I conducted was with my husband Chris.

Question: What do you believe is the reasoning behind deviance today?

Answer: “I have two main concerns when it comes to deviance today, poverty and racism. Poverty causes a lot of deviance within the society. Juveniles and adults are influenced to commit crimes and break the rules of society to get what they want or need. I believe that poverty is the main cause of deviance, individuals commit crimes for one purpose, to obtain what they need. People will steal food from the grocery store to feed their family or just themselves, they will rob a store or a bank to get money to pay for their electric bill, they will lie about their experience and skills during a job interview just to get the position to support their family. Poverty places people in positions where they feel that the only way to overcome their situation is to break or bend the rules a bit or to commit a crime.

Racism among African Americans causes many individuals of colors to feel pressured. People of color tend to be judged and downed, based on their color, which leads them to feel the need to prove them wrong. On the other hand, some feel that retaliation and anger is the answer. Hate crimes are committed every day within society, deviance against other races is committed every day within society. It is not always a crime committed, there is not always physical harm to an individual, but there are behaviors and attitudes that cause these acts to become deviant.”

Question: What do you think are some effective ways to prevent people from breaking society’s rules?

Answer: “I believe more youth programs would be effective for juveniles, more jobs, job training, job coaching would be more effective for adults. Resources that are easier to obtain would be beneficial for families in poverty. There is plenty of resources for individuals in poverty, but they are not easily accessible.”

My Thoughts

I feel Chris’s view on deviance can be applied to both structural-functional theory and social conflict theory.

Poverty and racism is something that is a problem in society all around the world. No matter where we go there are people in poverty, there are people who are racist, there are people who commit hate crimes and I do not feel that this is something that is going to change. We will always have these issues in society.

Interview Number Two

The second interview I conducted was with my mother Alicia.

Question: What do you believe are the reasons behind deviance in society?

Answer: “Deviance can be anything because it is based on what others find normal. It is all about opinion if one person in Ohio was to not use a turning signal it would be deviant, but in another state, turning signals are not required. They are an option. What is considered deviant varies upon the people, the group, or the person that is defining deviant. Everyone grows up and learns from diverse cultures and learns different norms, they grow up mentally in a unique way and in a different environment. The behavior is learned and passed on to one member of the family to another. Of course, some causes of deviance are lack of resources, education, racisms, poverty, peer pressure, social pressure, and the pressures of life can all cause someone to be deviant and do something that others may see as wrong.”

Question: What do you think are some effective ways to prevent deviance in society?

Answer: “Deviance can never be prevented. Rules will always be broken, there will always be someone who believes an action or behavior is deviant.”

My Thoughts

I feel that Alicia’s view on deviance is associated with the symbolic interaction theory because from the point of view of interaction theory deviance can be defined in many ways. It is all about opinion.


Deviance is Everywhere

Thinking about deviance I have realized that it is everywhere. I feel that at some point in life everyone is deviant, whether those individuals are labeled deviant or not depends on the individual who is judging. I also feel that there are plenty of reasons on why deviance occurs, poverty I do believe has a major impact on deviance within society. When in poverty it causes you to go do what is needed to provide. Although you may think it is the right choice, others may find it deviant or wrong. I believe we all break the rules sometimes, as they say, rules are meant to be broken.


Your Thoughts Matter!

What do you believe are the reasons behind deviance in society?

How do you think deviance can be prevented?


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    • Jessie L Watson profile image

      Jessie Watson 

      12 months ago from Wenatchee Washington

      More resources for the poor isn't a viable solution to deviant behavior. Deviant behavior is why people are poor. Some are born with low IQ, some are taught worthless work ethics, some are criminally minded and others are dependent on the system. I grew up in impoverished neighborhoods. No one could give me any good excuse as to why they let their pets run loose to bite children or get run over, throw trash on the sidewalk or vandalize. "Society picks on me". Really?

      Also, the solution to deviance depends on which behavioral standard you're trying to enforce. Because all deviance really is, is a sample of the population who differs from the average. (Out of a 1000 marbles, 700 are red, 160 are blue and 140 are green. Blue and Green are deviant.) So, deviance doesn't mean someone is abnormal. It just means that there are far less of them out there.


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