Deviance is generally defined as any act that violates a social norm and is disapproved by large numbers of people as a result.

Deviance Relativism:

But deviance is a relative term. No act is inherently deviance. It is, deviant only when it is socially defined as such, and definition of which acts are deviant vary greatly from time to time, place to place, and group to group e.g. the heretic of one age may be the saint of the next or the freedom fighter of one group may be a terrorist to another. Conservative views in one society may seem dangerously radical in a different society like those of the Taliban in Afghanistan are radical for the Americans. A polygamist is a criminal in the US but not in the Muslim countries.

When ordinary people break into tombs, they are called looters. When archeologists break into tombs they are hailed as scientists who are advancing the frontiers of knowledge. Yet in both case burial sites are disturbed and items are carted away.

Nowadays in most countries cigarette smoking is legal but in the 17th it was illegal, and in some countries, makers were punished harshly; in Russia their noses were cut off in India their lips sliced off.

Whether a given act is deviant depends on public consensus. Murder in unquestionably deviant because nearly all people agree that it. But smoking in Pakistan is not deviant because hardly anybody considers it so. Public consensus however usually reflects the vested interests of the rich powerful. As Marx had said the ides of the ruling class are to become the ruling ideas of society. Unlike the powerful, the general public tends, e.g., to consider bank robbery to be a serious crime but not fraudulent advertising, which serves the interests of the powerful.

As the sociologist Backer (1966) observed.

“it is not the Act itself, but the reactions to the Act that make something deviant. ”

In other words, people behaviour must be viewed from the framework of the culture in which they take places, because what might be deviant to one culture or society might not be deviant to other. This is called the RELATIVITY OF DEVIANCES as pointed out by the symbolic interactionist Becker. This is because different groups have different norms.

All of us are deviants of one sort or another, for we all violate norms from time to time. To be considered deviant, a person may not have to do anything. Sociologist Goffman (1963) – the term stigma to refer to attributers what set the deviants apart from those who consider themselves normal.

Explaining Deviance:

Why do people deviate? Psychologists and sociologists explain deviance. Try looking for answers within the individuals. They assume that something in the makeup of people leads them to become deviant by contrast sociologists look for answers in factors outside the individual. They assume that something in the environment influences people to become deviant.

Biological explanations focus on.

Genetic Predisposition:

Personality Disorders:

Genetic Predisposition includes and theories.:

Intelligence—- low intelligence leads to crime.
.The “XYY” theory—– an extra Y chromosome in makes leads to crime
Body Type —- people with “Squarish, muscular” bodies are more likely to commit street crime, acts such as mugging, rape burglary.

But critics say that most people of low intelligence do not commit crimes. Some criminals are very intelligent. Most criminals have the normal “XY” chromosomes most men with the “XYY” combination do not become criminals. In addition no women have this combination of chromosomes, so it would not even deal with female criminals. Criminals also have different body types, most people with squarish, muscular, bodies do not become street criminals.

Personality disorder is the view that a personality disturbance of some sort causes an individuals to deviate from social norms.


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