Definition of Deviance
(noun) A violation of social or cultural norms.
Example of Deviance
- drug use
- American English – /dEE-vee-uhns/
- British English – /dEE-viuhns/
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /ˈdiviəns/
- British English – /ˈdiːvɪəns/
- Plural: deviances
- The terms “deviance” and “social deviance” are used interchangeably in a sociological context.
- A deviant does not conform.
- People who engage in deviance are called (noun) deviants because they (verb) deviate from norms.
- “Such an assumption seems to me to ignore the central fact about deviance: it is created by society. I do not mean this in the way it is ordinarily understood, in which the causes of deviance are located in the social situation of the deviant or in ‘social factors’ which prompt his action. I mean, rather, that social groups create deviance by making rules whose infraction constitutes deviance, and by applying those rules to particular people and labelling them as outsiders. From this point of view, deviance is not a quality of the act the person commits, but rather a consequence of the application by others of rules and sanctions to an ‘offender’. The deviant is one to whom that label has successfully been applied; deviant behaviour is behaviour that people so label” (Becker 1963:8–9).
- “Through a complex process that is not yet fully understood by students of mass communication, the mere reporting of one event has, under certain circumstances, the effect of triggering off events of a similar order. This effect is much easier to understand and is better documented in regard to the spread of crazes, fashions, fads and other forms of collective behaviour, such as mass delusion or hysteria, than in cases of deviance. The main reason why this process has been misunderstood in regard to deviance – particularly collective and novel forms – is that too much attention has been placed on the supposed direct effects (imitation, attention, gratification, identification) on the deviants, rather than the effects on the control system and culture and hence (via such processes as amplification) on the deviance” (Cohen 2002:187).
- Word origin of “deviance” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- Adler, Patricia A., and Peter Adler. 2007. “The Demedicalization of Self-injury.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 36(5):537–70. doi:10.1177/0891241607301968.
- Anleu, Sharyn L. Roach. 2006. Deviance, Conformity, and Control. 4th ed. Melbourne, Australia: Pearson Education.
- Becker, Howard S. 1963. Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance. New York: Free Press of Glencoe.
- Bell, Daniel. 1962. “Crime as an American Way of Life.” in The End of Ideology. edited by D. Bell. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.
- Chang, Jung. 1991. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China. New York: Simon and Schuster.
- Conrad, Peter. 1975. “The Discovery of Hyperkinesis: Notes on the Medicalization of Deviant Behavior.” Social Problems 23(1):12–21. doi:10.2307/799624.
- Conrad, Peter. 2005. “The Shifting Engines of Medicalization.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 46(1):3–14. doi:10.1177/002214650504600102.
- Conrad, Peter, and Joseph W. Schneider. 1992. Deviance and Medicalization: From Badness to Sickness. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
- Goldschmidt, Jona. 2008. “The Necessity of Dishonesty: Police Deviance, ‘Making the Case’ and the Public Good.” Policing and Society 18(2):113–35. doi:10.1080/10439460802008637.
- Henry, Stuart. 2009. Social Deviance. Cambridge: Polity.
- Inderbitzin, Michelle Lee, Kristin Ann Bates, and Randy R. Gainey. 2013. Deviance and Social Control: A Sociological Perspective. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
- Katz, Jack. 1988. The Seductions of Crime. New York: Basic Books.
- Lemert, Edwin. 1972. Human Deviance, Social Problems and Social Control. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
- Newman, Katherine. 2004. Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings. New York: Basic Books.
- Pfuhl, Erdwin H., and Stuart Henry. 1993. The Deviance Process. New York: Aldine De Gruyter.
- Taylor, Verta, and Leila Rupp. 2003. Drag Queens at the 801 Cabaret. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
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Cite the Definition of Deviance
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “deviance.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 5, 2023 (https://sociologydictionary.org/deviance/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
deviance. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/deviance/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “deviance.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 5, 2023. https://sociologydictionary.org/deviance/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“deviance.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 5 Jun. 2023. <https://sociologydictionary.org/deviance/>.