What is Deviance || Deviance vs Crime || Types of Deviance and, Social Control


Literal meaning of word deviance is breaking or diverging from something. In Sociology deviance is described as an action that violates social norms, values, manners, code of conduct, agreement, or the Law.

What is Deviance || Deviance vs Crime || Types of Deviance and, Social Control

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People who violate the norms and values of society are called deviants.

Deviant behavior:

The behavior belonging to deviance is called as deviant behavior and it is determined by that society.

Deviance and Society:

Deviance can be as minor as picking one’s nose in public or as major as committing murder. Norms make social life possible by making behavior predictable. Without norms, social chaos would exist. As the norms and values vary from society to society, in the same way deviant behavior does. So, an action which is considered a deviant behavior in one society may not be considered the same in other societies. A social deviation when grows serious is a problem for the society. Violating the road signals, disobeying elders and abusing others are some deviant behaviors.

Factors of deviance:

Sociologists believe that factors outside an individual cause him to deviate from social norms.

  • Psychological Factors

It explains that the deviant behavior of people is caused by abnormalities of their personalities what we call personality disorder. It usually includes:

  • Personality Disorder
  • Crime Psychopathy
  • Aggression and violence

Deviant behavior is brought about by inner conflicts or by inability to control one’s own impulses

  • Biological Factors

According to biological perspective deviance is caused due to the internal factors.

  • Mental illness
  • Genes of Habitual Criminals

Deviant act may be caused by the genetic traits as in the case of habitual criminals or mentally-ill individuals. Criminals have specific or different genes which may be genetically distorted or more efficient which help them to become more deviant in their actions.

  • Social Factors

Surrounding of an individual affects him in many ways. Main social factors of deviance are stated below:

  • Imperfect Socialization
  • Labeling by others
  • Economical shortage
  • Exploitation
  • Desire to be Praised

Level Of Deviance:

  • Conformists

Those who follow the norms of society are called conformists. They are never punished because they do what they are supposed to do.

  • Pure Deviants

These are the people who have broken the law and are punished because they deviate from a norm and violating that particular norm is considered a crime in their society.

  • Secret Deviants

These are the people who have broken a law but are not punished because they are scary and do such acts secretly.

  • Primary Deviants

These are the people who violate folkways or sometimes such norms that their deviant behavior is considered insignificant

People wearing clothes contradicted to society or having some strange hairstyles etc.

  • Secondary Deviants

They do such acts which cannot be ignored or overlooked. They are punished because of their violations.

Rape, Murder, Theft, Robbery etc.

  • Innovators

They accept society’s goal but rejects the society’s legitimate means to get them. I.e. they use unfair means like robbery, theft to get money.

  • Ritualism

It is the acceptance of the fact that due to their position in the society they might not able to gain complete access to material resources. Thus they reject the society’s goal but they continue working in the traditional way and put in the same amount of hard work.

  • Retreatism

It is the rejection of both the society’s goals and the legitimate means to achieve them. Sometimes they are called true deviants because they commit acts of deviance that do not go along with the values of society.

  • Rebellion

They reject both the goals of society and the means to achieve them. They do not stop there and go a step further. They have their own contradictory goals and means to achieve them.

Theories Of Deviance:

  • Differential Association theory

It was developed by Edwin Sutherland. This theory focuses on how individuals learn to become criminals, but does not concern itself with why they become criminals.

The principles of Sutherland’s theory of differential association can be summarized into following key points:

  1. Deviant behavior is learned in interaction with others in a process of communication.
  2. The principal part of the learning of criminal behavior occurs within intimate personal groups.
  3. When criminal behavior is learned, the learning includes techniques of committing the crime (which are sometimes very complicated, sometimes simple) and the specific direction of motives, drives, rationalizations, and attitudes.
  4. The specific direction of motives and drives is learned from definitions of the legal codes as favorable or unfavorable.
  5. A person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favorable to violation of law over definitions unfavorable to violation of the law.
  6. Differential associations may vary in frequency, duration, priority, and intensity.
  7. The process of learning criminal behavior by association with criminal and anti-criminal patterns involves all of the mechanisms that are involved in any other learning.
  8. While criminal behavior is an expression of general needs and values, it is not explained by those needs and values, since non-criminal behavior is an expression of the same needs and values.

  • Social Control Theory

This theory was developed by Travis Hirschi. It is also known as social bond theory. Hirschi refers to four elements which constitute the societal bond.

  1. Attachment to other individuals ( To get Appreciation)
  2. A commitment to follow rules ( Cause less deviance)
  3. Involvement by social behavior
  4. Belief in a basic value system

Thus, if moral codes are internalized and individuals are tied into, and have a stake in their wider community, they will voluntarily limit their propensity to commit deviant acts.

  • Labeling Theory

One of the most prominent labeling theorists is Howard Becker. Labeling theory refers to the idea that individuals become deviant when a deviant label is applied to them. They adopt those actions which are concerned to that particular label. Labeling theory questions who applies what label to whom, why they do this, and what happens as a result of this labeling.

The consequences of being labeled as deviant can be far‐reaching

Powerful individuals within society like politicians, judges, police officers, medical doctors typically impose the most significant labels.

Labeled persons may include drug addicts, alcoholics, criminals, retarded people, and psychiatric patients.

Social research indicates that those who have negative labels usually have lower self‐images, are more likely to reject themselves, and may even act more deviantly. Unfortunately, people who accept the labeling of others, either it is justified or not, have a difficult time in changing their opinions of the labeled person even in the presence of contrary evidences.

Crime vs Deviance

An act that violates a law and is punishable by an authority through formal sanctions is called as crime.

Types of Crime:

  • Violent crimes

They are also known as “crimes against a person” and are based on the use of force or the threat of force.
Rape, murder, and armed robbery fall under this category.

  • Non-violent crimes

They involve the destruction or theft of property, but do not use force or the threat of force. Because of this, they are also sometimes called “property crimes.
Nuisance, Drug and property Crimes

  • Victimless crime

A term used to describe criminal offences where there is no complainant and no readily recognizable victim.

As compare to violent or nonviolent crimes, which clearly has a victim, a crime like drinking a beer at age 17 does not result in injury to anyone other than the individual who engages in them, although they are illegal.
Drinking, Suicide, Breach of Traffic rules etc.

  • White-collar Crime

Non-violent crimes which are committed by business or government professionals for financial gain are called as White-Collar crime.

These crimes are committed by those who are in power. They are more difficult to detect because the transactions take place in private and are more difficult to prosecute because the criminals can secure expert legal advice on how to bend the rules.
Corporate Crime, Government Crime, Organized Crime

  • Property Crimes

Property crimes include many common crimes relating to theft or destruction of someone else's property. Property crime only involves the taking of money or property, and does not involve force or threat of force against a victim.
Burglary, Theft, motor vehicle theft, shoplifting, vandalism etc.

Causes Of Deviance

  • Anomie

Anomie is the lack of the usual social or ethical standards in an individual or group. Due to the loss of standards and values there is no source of guidance for the individuals and they do whatever they want. It is one of the main causes of deviance: if people are not properly socialized into the norms and values of society, then deviance is much more likely to happen.

  • Improper Socialization

Family is the first place of learning for individuals. Parents play a key role in moral grooming of their child. If they do not give proper attention to their child then the child fails to get proper learning. Such a child gets disturbed mentally and emotionally and keeps the company of others.

He learns many anti-social activities like smoking, drinking, gambling, abusing, deceiving and usual habit of telling a lie. He repeatedly deviates from social norms and does illegal activities and becomes a criminal in adulthood.

  • Lack Of Religious Education

Religion plays an important role in the moral grooming of individuals. Quran and Sunnah order us to do pious deeds. We learn the sense of good or bad from our religion. Every religion restrains its devotees from wrongdoings. A person who obeys the norms of religion always hates the delinquency. So, if an individual fails to learn the noble values of religion, paves his way to delinquency. Such a person takes it normally to be a culprit.

  • Illiteracy

Knowledge gives wisdom to a person to differentiate between good or bad. If one is devoid of getting education then one is also unable to mold oneself according to the society. His thoughts are not well groomed. For such a person social norm has no value and he is also unaware of its importance. So he takes it normal to violate from social norms.

  • Financial Resources

Financial conditions play an important role on a person’s behavior. We need money to meet our needs. We strive hard for attaining ease in our lives. So if a person does not have enough financial resources to meet his needs then he will use illegitimate ways to get the money. So he gets mentally disturbed and does not perform well in the society.

  • Lack of Interest in Education

Educational institutes are the second place of socialization in an individual’s life. Sometimes, due to some reasons the attention of a student gets diverted and he pays no attention to his studies. He keeps the company of addicts and starts taking drugs. He may also be affected by some other anti-social activities because of his company. Such a student needs serious attention from teachers as well as parents

  • Company of Wrongdoers

A man is known by his company. He is psychologically influenced by the thoughts of those whose company he keeps. If he is keeping the company of wrongdoers it means he is paving his way towards evil. Because of his ill fellows, he will be a culprit in near future.

  • Death of Parents

Parents play a vital role in character development of their children. Children observe spousal interaction and how arguments are settled in the family. They learn a variety of good values from their parents. Thus the death of any of them affects the children's life socially and psychologically. Their basic needs like education, food, shelter, and socializations are not met and they become deviantsin future.

  • Desire of More

Most people's lives are affected by an insatiable desire for more. They use every unfair means to satisfy their quest for more. They join professions like smuggling, theft, robbery, land grabbing and drug selling which are deviant acts in the society. But they feel no shame in doing such acts.

  • Lack of Basic Facilities

Man is always attracted by the modernities and eases of life. He wants luxurious life and a life without tensions. He needs basic facilities i.e. house, money to meet needs, and schooling of children, house, car, electricity, and health caring facilities to attain peace and ease in his life. If he does not get these facilities by fair means then he is compelled to use unfair means like robbery, theft, dacoit to get them. Thus in this way he deviates from social norms.

  • Social Media

Media is one of the main agents of socialization that affects youth the most. The socialization process has a very dramatic impact on a child's life. Socialization is a "Continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position. Media shows that being deviant makes you cool and look tough and that it's okay to do deviant things. Statistics show that when young people watch violence on television it increases their appetites to become involved in violence. It opens their minds to violence and makes them aware of crimes and people acting deviant.

Control of Social Deviance:

  • Socialization of Parents

The first place of socialization of children is the house in which they live. So,in order to make them the responsible participants of society parents must be trained for better enforcement of social norms. First of all, parents should realize the value of norms by themselves so that they can enforce these norms to children at any cost.

  • Education

People only obey the norms when they know the value of them so they should be educated about the importance of norms. Government should take serious action for the complete eradication of illiteracy. The free education system would be helpful in this regard.Religious

  • Education

Religion plays the key role in the character development of an individual. It teaches its devotees to keep their morals high. So, religious education should be given to masses. Importance of religious education should be encouraged by the government and renowned scholars.

  • Counseling of Students

Student life is the most learning phase of an individual’s life. These are the students who are the future of their society. Proper counseling seminars should be arranged on a permanent basis to keep them aware of the values of norms.

  • Recreational Activities

Recreational activities improve the mental and physical health of people. Parks, entertainment centers, game and comedy shows, and other recreational points should be constructed for the well being of individuals as well as society. So that people may spend them their leisure time in a better way.

  • Counseling Of Wrongdoers

This is the most affected class of society which is ignored by society. Government should establish rehabilitation centers within the jails for convicted criminals and for those who are under trial. They should be taught technical education there so they may prove fruitful for society in future.

  • Eradication of unemployment

Unemployment is one the main reason of violence in any society. An unemployed cannot meet his need easily so he use illegitimate ways for it. Government should take step to solve this crucial problem of the society. Government should start micro finance schemes for the unemployed. They should be taught technical education for their living. Failure to get a job is the main reason of discouragement for the youth.

  • Orphanage Homes

The most vulnerable class to social evils is the parentless child. So, orphanage homes should be constructed for the well being of these children. Proper health, food and education should be provided to them timely. Human resource should come in front to solve the problems of this class. They should be taught technical education there so that they may help them monetarily in future.

  • Role of Media

Today’s youth spend most of his time on social media. They develop different dreamy scenarios in their minds after observing some situations. So an effective campaign should be started on social media to control the social deviance and to change the minds effectively in a better way.

  • Complete Ban on Child Labour

Financial crises put a child in a situation in which he has to work physically to help his family monetarily. These children are not physically capable of doing such hectic jobs. They do not have observing eye of parents on them when they are on work. They get involved in distracted activities like smoking etc. For this, government should establish a proper mechanism to help these children.

  • Through Sanctions

Hundred percent control on behavior of a man is impossible. It’s natural to violate from social norm. But a continuous violation is harmful for both society and individual. Society should implement strict sanctions if someone causes violation in the society. Fear of punishment will induce them to behave in a proper way. Thus it would be helpful in controlling the deviance.

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