What is deviance?
• The violation of social norms.
• Who or what determines which acts
are considered deviant?
• Society (public consensus or
• That is to say deviance is culturally
Is what is considered
deviance always the
• An act which is considered deviant in one
situation, may not be considered deviant in
another situation, even in the same
• What is considered deviant, and the
consequences of deviant acts, vary from
society to society and from historical
period to historical period. Deviance and
its consequences are culturally determined.
How does a person come
to be considered a
• Repeating an offense?
• Committing acts that have
• A person may only need to
commit a single act to be
Two components of
being labeled deviant;
•A mark of social disgrace.
•A stigma may but does
not have to be an
•A stigma is a “spoiled
theory of Deviance
• From the Functionalist perspective.
• Unifying the Group; An “insiders versus
outsiders,” or “us against them,” attitude
helps to bring groups or societies together. In
this way deviance can enhance social
• Deviance ironically can also enhance
conformity. Deviance can clarify norms.
Deviance defines boundaries of acceptable
behavior. Deviance and punishment remind
people of norms.
More positive functions of
• Safely releasing discontent or diffusing
tension. Minor acts of deviance relieve
tension without disrupting society.
• Inducing social change and or identifying
problems in a society.
• When a particular norm is violated, by a
large number of people, it might indicate a
problem within the society.
• Providing jobs.
The Cultural-Transmission Theory of
• Views deviance as a learned behavior.
• Deviance is learned the way all behavior is
learned, through interaction.
• Differential Association; If the majority of a
person’s interactions are with deviants, the
person will likely be socialized into deviance.
• Cultural Transmission theory views all
individuals as conformists. People simply
conform to the norms of the people they have
the greatest association with.
• Cultural Transmission is from the Symbolic
• A Functionalist perspective
• Proposed by Robert Merton
• Views deviance as the
natural outgrowth of the
values, norms, and structure
Structural-Strain Theory views
deviance as the result of
incompatible goals and means.
• All people in society are socialized to
accept certain goals such as financial
success, good grades etc.
• Not all people in society have the
legitimate means to achieve these goals,
they have been socialized to accept.
• Strain is the result of this tension between
goals and means.
• Without access to legitimate means for
achieving societies goals, people turn to
illegitimate means, e.g. stealing, cheating
Merton believed that the
strain of incompatible goals
and means produces a state
of anomie for individuals.
• Anomie is normlessness,
societies norms are no
longer clear or no longer
Merton believed that people
respond to culturally approved
goals, and legitimate means of
achieving those goals, in one of
• 1. Conformity
• 2. Innovation
• 3. Ritualism
• 4. Retreatism
• 5. Rebellion
•Accepts • Accepts the
goals of societies
•Accepts • Rejects the
the means of
cultural culture’s goals
goals of and substitutes
•Rejects • Accepts the
cultures goals, without
goals any hope of
(gives goals. Going
up). through the
• Rejects the • Rejects the
goals, has for attaining
no hope of societies
•Rejects • Rejects the
goals but goals but
replaces replaces them
them with with new means
Hirschi’s Control Theory
• Sees deviance as a natural occurrence.
• Conformity is the result of social control.
• Individuals with weak ties to the
community, are likely to commit deviant
• Community members can exercise more
social control, over members with strong
ties to the community, because those
members have more to lose.
• Individual with weak ties to the
community, are more difficult to control,
because they have less to lose.
• Competition and social
inequality lead to deviance.
• Social life is a struggle between
those who have and those who
do not have.
• People who are in power (those
who have) commit deviant acts,
in an effort to maintain power.
Conflict Theory Continued
• People out of power (those who do not
have) commit deviant acts for one of two
• To obtain economic rewards.
• Because they have feelings of
• According to the conflict theorists because
those who have, have all the power, they
label what will be defined as deviance and
what will not. They control what types of
deviance will be detected and punished.
• The deviance of the lower classes will be
more often detected.
• Deviance is the result of class struggle.
• Comes from the Conflict Perspective.
• The powerful have greater; deviant
motivation, opportunity and weaker
• The powerful engage in profitable
deviance and the powerless in
• Because the powerful have a greater
deviant motivation they will be more
• Does not focus as much on why people are
deviant as it does on why some people are
labeled deviant and other aren’t.
• Grew out of the interactionist perspective.
• According to the labeling theory all people
commit deviant acts, but only some are
labeled as deviant.
• Primary Deviance are deviant acts that are
undetected by society and do not result in
a person being labeled deviant.
• Secondary Deviance- are deviant acts that
are detected and result in the person being
labeled deviant and accepting the label as
• Once a person is labeled as deviant their
whole life changes.
• Disintegrative shaming; The
wrongdoer is punished in such a way
as to be stigmatized, rejected, and
• Reintegrative Shaming; making
wrongdoers feel guilty while showing
them understanding, forgiveness, or
• Disintegrative shaming causes
deviance or at least perpetuates it.