What is Deviance?

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In the field of sociology, deviance refers to behaviors which violate social norms and formal rules that are enacted. Crime is an example of deviance from formal rules, and informal violation or absence of conformity to social norms include the rejection of traditional ways. Norms simply refer to expectations and conventional rules that guide the members of a society, and the initial step towards understanding deviance is by studying these norms.

Sociologists and psychologists are concerned about how social norms are formed, how they transform throughout time, and how they are implemented. Social norms vary from one culture to another. Sometimes, a behavior which is considered as appropriate or non-deviant in one social context may be considered as inappropriate and deviant in another. For example, it was once considered as a social norm in Westen countries for ladies to wear gloves in public. However, nowadays, it would be considered a little strange to wear gloves except if the weather is chilly.

Deviance can be viewed from different perspectives. In the sociological perspective, social class is considered an important factor that affects deviant behavior. For example, theft is a common deviant behavior that is sometimes driven by poverty and other sociological pressures. In the perspective of psychology, the thought processes behind deviant behavior is studied, as well as early childhood development, in order to explain how behavioral boundaries are learned. Deviance may also be viewed from a biological perspective, which states that deviant behaviors may result from variations in the brain.

Understanding deviance and the motivations behind deviant behaviors can be of importance for people in different fields and settings. For instance, physicians are interested to learn why some of their patients do not follow the required medical treatment or schedules. Additionally, teachers may also be interested to know more about bullying and its origins, as well as the ways by which they could deal with problem students in their class.

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