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 “No act is inherently deviant in and of itself. Deviance is defined socially and will vary from one group to another.” ~Emile DurkheimDeviance can help form and shape society’s norms and goals. Without deviance we would not have rules. Deviance refers to behavior that departs from societal or group norms. It is set by societal standards. It differs from culture to culture and from society to society. Deviance isn’t always a bad thing. Every one of us has committed some type deviant act, such as speeding. It is subjective and is constantly evolving. Some people become deviant through the labeling theory and some people are even thought to just be born deviant. There are two types of deviance: formal and informal. Formal deviance is behavior of violating laws, such as homicide and rape. Informal deviance is behavior that violates social norm for example, picking your nose in public (Deviant behavior, nd).         Violation of social norms, or deviance, results in social sanction. There are three main forms of social sanction for deviance: 1) legal sanction, 2) stigmatization, and 3) preference for one behavior over another. Formal deviance results in legal sanction. Informal deviance results in stigmatization and preferences for one behavior over another. Social stigma in deviance is the disapproval of a person because they do not fit the required social norms that are given in society (Deviance, Social Control, and Crime, nd).There are five types of deviance in terms of the acceptance or rejection of social goals. They are innovation, conformists, ritualism, retreatism, and rebellion. Innovation is a response due to the strain generated by our culture’s emphasis on wealth and the lack of opportunities to get rich, which causes people to be “innovators” by engaging in stealing and selling drugs. They accept society’s goals, but reject socially acceptable means of achieving them. Conformists accept society’s goals and the socially acceptable means of achieving them. Ritualism refers to the inability to reach a cultural goal thus embracing the rules to the point where the people in question lose sight of their larger goals in order to feel respectable. Retreatism is the rejection of both cultural goals and means. Retreatists are seen as true deviants, as they commit acts of deviance to achieve things that do not always go along with society. Rebellion reject both the cultural and society’s goals and authentic means to achieve them, and instead creates new goals and means to replace those of society (Deviance, Social Control, and Crime, nd).Deviant behavior is described in three sociological classes. These classes are structural functionalism, symbolic interactionism, and conflict theory. Structural functionalism describes the social integration of an individual to groups and institutions. It also describes social regulation as obedience to norms and the values of society. It serves two primary roles in creating social stability. First, systems of recognizing and punishing deviance create norms and tell members of a given society how to behave by laying out patterns of acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Second, these social parameters create boundaries between populations and enable an “us-versus-them” mentality within different groups.Symbolic interactionism describes social interaction as a subjective manner. It is made out of three basic premises: that human acts toward things on the basis of meaning ascribed to it, meaning of such things that arises from the social interaction one has with others and the society, and the meaning of the things are handled and modified through an interpretative process use in dealing with things that are encountered. Conflict theory which states that society functions for an individual and group to struggle to maximize the benefits. Social-Conflict theorists claim there is a pattern in the use of the term “deviant” that allows them to predict which behaviors will be deemed deviant by society. The patterns are norms to express the interests of the rich or the powerful. The rich or powerful have the means to resist deviant labels that others do not. The powerful are able to afford the resources necessary to make labels, or criminal prosecution, go away. The belief that norms and laws are inherently good and right distracts society from the political undercurrent present in norms and laws. These three sociological classes define the cause of an individual to have deviant behavior (Deviant Behavior, nd).Deviance is constantly changing. What used to be considered deviant behavior may now be considered normal behavior. When deviant act becomes more accepted it is considered legitimate. For example, many companies used to have dress codes for their workers– Managers were required to dress-up, suits, etc. In the late 1980s and early 1990s more and more managers were showing up to work informally dressed. Soon, companies began to implement “casual days.” Today, many American corporations have done away with the business suit altogether (Deviance and Social Control, nd). Another example of this is in the early 1900’s it was deviant for women to wear pants in public. Women who wore pants were cross dressing. Wearing pants in public a woman could be arrested for indecency. Now this is considered normal behavior.There have been situations where something in the past was acceptable, but may now be considered deviant. Racial segregation and exclusion, once considered an acceptable norm is now considered deviancy, when basic civil rights are denied (Deviant behaviors that have become acceptable, 2017). Deviance is a normal and necessary part of society because it promotes social change. It can also help people adjust to change. Deviant behavior can also help change injustices, such as denying people of their rights because of the color of their skin, gender, age, religion, etc.            Deviant behavior can vary from culture to culture. For example drinking before the age of 21 is a deviant act in the United States but in Germany kids are drinking at the age of 14 with a parent accompanying them. Some things might seem deviant to one cultural but be acceptable in another. Deviance can be perceived and manipulated in several different ways, it is all up to the society’s norms and values, but without deviance there is sure to chaos and crime (Deviance in Our Every Day Lives, nd).Deviance has an impact on society in many ways. Deviance weakens established social norms and creates division and disorder. It can be a threat to those social norms that society has put into place. According to the article Impact of Deviance on a Society, if enough people incorporate the deviant behavior into their repertoire of actions, norms weaken and possible problems ensure.Deviance is a method for bringing about social change. When enough people incorporate a deviant behavior into their repertoire of actions, norms weaken but this does not automatically lead to problems. Sometimes it leads to change.Deviance helps people adjust to a change in norms. Since deviance is a violation of cultural norms, it exposes others to behaviors “outside of the box” gradually and eases others into a position where they are no longer shocked by the behavior.Deviance promotes social solidarity by distinguishing between ‘us’ and ‘them.’ Forming a distinction between deviants and the rest of society, society bonds in its response to what is not “normal,” thereby reaffirming its ties and creating social cohesion. In this way, also, a society draws the line between what is “right” and what is “wrong” and unites in establishing the culture’s moral boundaries.Deviance introduces new ideas and elevates them within society. Not all deviance is negative. Some deviant behaviors are carried out with honest intentions of improving society (Deviance, 2015). Deviant behavior can promote positive change in society. Deviance is necessary to keep control of a society because without deviance people would not know what is acceptable and what is not (Deviance in Our Everyday Lives, nd). If a society managed to eliminate all deviance, it would also eliminate all innovation. If everyone followed the rules all the time things would never change. The more we try to rid ourselves of unwanted deviance by reducing people’s freedoms and monitoring and punishing their behavior the more we may also be suppressing the positive, innovative deviance that society needs to adapt and survive in the long run. For a society to adapt, it must produce a small but consistent flow of people who are willing to experiment with new ways of living, thinking, and behaving.According to Eric Silver, Doctor of Society, if the norms of a society were so bluntly enforced as to eliminate all deviance, then such experimentation would cease to occur, and the society would be incapable of change. Without Martin Luther King Jr.’s influence on our beliefs about racial equality, Susan B. Anthony’s influence on our beliefs of human rights & Galileo’s influence on our beliefs about science. Their deviant behavior made tremendous reforms. Without their deviance the world might have been a different, and perhaps a even worse place for the rest of us to live in (Deviant View of Deviance, 2017).”In order that the originality of the idealist whose dreams transcend his century may find expression, it is necessary that the originality of the criminal, who is below the level of his time, shall also be possible. One does not occur without the other.” ~ Emile Durkheim                                                                                                ReferencesDeviance. (2015, June 17). Retrieved January 21, 2018, from, Social Control, and Crime. (n.d.). Retrieved from Behavior. (n.d.). Retrieved January 21, 2018, from In Our Everyday Lives. (n.d.). Retrieved January 21, 2018, from Social Behaviors that have become Acceptable. (n.d.). Retrieved January 21, 2018, from and Social Control. (n.d.). Retrieved from, E. (2017, January 20). Deviant View of Deviance. Retrieved from–blog/-durkheims-deviant-view-of-deviancef

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