Deviant behavior is behavior that is a recognized violation of cultural norms. Formal and informal social controls attempt to prevent and minimize deviance. One such control is through the medicalization of deviance.
Crime, the violation of formally enacted law, is formal deviance while an informal social violation such as picking one's nose (although that is becoming rather normal by now) is an example of informal deviance. It also means not doing what the majority does or alternatively doing what the majority does not do. For instance, behaviors caused by cultural difference can be seen as deviance. It does not necessarily mean criminal behavior.
An example of a group considered deviant in the modern United States is the Ku Klux Klan. Milder examples include Punks and Goths.
Social foundations of deviance
- Deviance varies according to cultural norms
- People become deviant as others define them that way
- Both rule making and breaking involve social power
Functions of deviance
- Affirms cultural values and norms
- Clarifies moral boundaries
- Promotes social unity
- Encourages social change
Types of deviance
Labelling is the process by which deviance is recognized. Primary deviance is the time when the person is labeled deviant through confession or reporting. Secondary deviance is deviance before and after the primary deviance.
Retrospective labeling happens when the deviant recognizes his acts prior to the primary deviance as deviant, while prospective labeling is when the deviant recognizes future acts as deviant.