Deviance is an individual’s or group’s behavior, ideas, or attributes that some people in society find offensive, wrong, immoral, sinful, evil, strange, or disgusting. This definition consists of three parts.
Expectation: Some behavioral expectation must exist.
Violation: There must be a real or implied violation of the expectation
Reaction: An individual, group, or society must react to the deviance
The strain theory by Robert Merton believes that American society pushes individuals toward deviance by overemphasizing the importance of monetary success, while failing to emphasize the legitimate means to achieve that success.
Cultural Transmission Theory by Edwin Sutherland states that deviants learn patterns of behavior form the people with whom they associate on a regular basis. Not only do they teach us the techniques for committing deviant acts, but also a set of beliefs and attitudes that justify or rationalize the behavior
The Anomie Theory was coined by Emile Durkheim and it refers to the condition of normlessness, in which values and norms have little impact and the culture no longer provides adequate guidlines for behavior.
Deviance is also thought of as an individual choice because it appears that the consequences of doing it are more desirable than the consequences of doing something else. The choice is as simple as weighing the pros and cons.
Biological theories are a bit weak due to all the exceptions to the rule. William Sheldon proposed that deviance is in the body type. Other theorists say its in the extra Y chromosone
Psychologists have attributed antisocial behavior to the conscious mind being too weak to overcome the strength of the id.
Labeling theorists attempt to explain how cultural and individual perceptions create and sustain deviant idetities. A deviant is not different from you or I, they are just labeled deviant successfully.
Has led sociologists to distinguish between primary and secondary deviance. Primary deviance is the original behavior that leads to the application of the label to an individual. Secondary deviance is the behavior that people develop as a result of having been labeled
Functions of Deviance
Deviance actually helps teach society’s rules providing illustrations of violation. It is functional in that it 1) causes the group’s members to close ranks 2) promotes group solidarity 3) help clarify what society really believes in 4)teaches normal behavior by showing us what is abnormal.
Durkheim stated that deviance is “an intergral part of all healthy societies.”
There seems to be a disjunction between means and ends, such as the emphasis on wealth and success without many legitimate means to achieve them. Those individuals without such opportunities attempt to bridge this gap in a number of ways:
The conformist seeks to continue the acceptance of the goals and means offered for their attainment.
The innovator may continue to accept the goals while seeking new, and in many cases, illegitimate revenues for the attainment of these goals.
The ritualist may make the means into an end by rejecting the culturally prescribed goals as being out of his reach.
The retreat rejects both the means and ends offered by society by dropping into drug use, menatl illness, alcoholism, homelessness.
The rebellious reject both the means and ends while seeking to replace both with alternatives, thereby changing the way society as a whole is structured.