Tattoos, vegan lifestyles, single parenthood, breast implants, and even jogging were once considered deviant but are now widely accepted. The change process usually takes some time and may be accompanied by significant disagreement, especially for social norms that are viewed as essential. For example, divorce affects the social institution of family, and so divorce carried a deviant and stigmatized status at one time. Marijuana use was once seen as deviant and criminal, but U.S. social norms on this issue are changing.
- 7.0: Prelude to Deviance, Crime, and Social Control
- The Pew Research Center found that a majority of people in the United States (52 percent) now favor legalizing marijuana. This 2013 finding was the first time that a majority of survey respondents supported making marijuana legal. A question about marijuana’s legal status was first asked in a 1969 Gallup poll, and only 12 percent of U.S. adults favored legalization at that time.
- 7.1: Deviance and Control
- “What is deviant behavior?” cannot be answered in a straightforward manner. Whether an act is labeled deviant or not depends on many factors, including location, audience, and the individual committing the act (Becker 1963). Listening to your iPod on the way to class is considered acceptable behavior. Listening to your iPod during your 2 p.m. sociology lecture is considered rude. Listening to your iPod when on the witness stand before a judge may cause you to be held in contempt of court and con
- 7.2: Theoretical Perspectives on Deviance
- Why does deviance occur? How does it affect a society? Since the early days of sociology, scholars have developed theories that attempt to explain what deviance and crime mean to society. These theories can be grouped according to the three major sociological paradigms: functionalism, symbolic interactionism, and conflict theory.
- 7.3: Crime and the Law
- Although deviance is a violation of social norms, it’s not always punishable and it’s not necessarily bad. Crime, on the other hand, is a behavior that violates official law and is punishable through formal sanctions. Walking to class backward is a deviant behavior. Driving with a blood alcohol percentage over the state’s limit is a crime. Like other forms of deviance, however, ambiguity exists concerning what constitutes a crime and whether all crimes are, in fact, “bad” and deserve punishment.
Thumbnail: Latin Kings graffiti of the King Master along with the abbreviations "L" and "K" on the sides. The Latin Kings are the largest Hispanic street gang in the US. (Public Domain).