Deviance is any behavior that violates social norms, and is usually of sufficient severity to warrant disapproval from the majority of society. Deviance can be criminal or non-criminal. People who engage in deviant behavior are referred to as deviants. The concept of deviance is complex because norms vary considerably across groups, times, and places. In other words, what one group may consider acceptable, another may consider deviant.
Do you want to know the relationship between deviance and crime? Here, I am going to explain the relationship between Deviance and Crime.
What is Deviance?
Deviance is any behavior that violates social norms, and is usually of sufficient severity to warrant disapproval from the majority of society. Deviance can be criminal or non-criminal.
People who engage in deviant behavior are referred to as deviants. The concept of deviance is complex because norms vary considerably across groups, times, and places. In other words, what one group may consider acceptable, another may consider deviant.
Deviance is defined by its social context. To understand why some acts are deviant and some are not, it is necessary to understand what the context is, what the existing rules are, and how these rules came to be established. If the rules change, what counts as deviant also changes. As rules and norms vary across cultures and time, it makes sense that notions of deviance also change.
Whether a behavior is considered deviant depends on the circumstances under which it occurs. Considerations of certain behaviors as deviant also vary from one society to another and from one era to another within a given society.
Relationship between Deviance and Crime
According to sociologist William Graham Sumner, deviance is a violation of established contextual, cultural, or social norms, whether folkways, mores, or codified law. Codified laws are norms that are specified in explicit codes and enforced by government bodies.
A crime is therefore an act of deviance that breaks not only a norm, but a law. Deviance can be as minor as picking one’s nose in public or as major as committing murder.
To a large extent, criminology and studies of deviance have developed along separate tracks although they show much overlap. Criminologists have typically limited themselves to issues about legality, crime, or crime-related phenomena.
Students of deviance, on the other hand, have studied crime as well as a wider range of behaviors or conditions that are deviant by one or another.
the definitions reviewed but are not necessarily illegal, such as suicide, alcoholism, homosexuality, mentally disordered behaviors, stuttering, and even such behaviors as public nose picking or flatulence, sectarian religious behaviors, and body mutilation. Hence, it is difficult to distinguish criminology clearly from studies of deviance.
There are two main intellectual barriers to merging criminology with studies of deviance. First, some criminal behavior in some places (such as gambling) is not deviant, at least by most definitions of deviance, so would be subject to criminological study but not to study by students of deviance.
The political processes that produce laws can result in behaviors being declared illegal although the conduct is not deviant by any definition except a legalistic one.
In addition, some behaviors are deviant at the time they become illegal but later become non-deviant without the law having been changed. Therefore, those intellectually opposed to merger might note that subsuming criminology under deviance studies would exclude some of the more interesting aspects of criminology.
A second intellectual obstacle to conceiving of crime and deviance as one subject matter hinges on disagreements about the nature of human behavior. Some criminologists and some students of deviance contend that all forms of behavior, including specific acts or types of crime or deviance, are more or less distinct, requiring unique explanations.
By observing a plethora of differences, such as whether committed by males or females, blacks or whites, young or old, in some circumstances rather than others, whether legal or not, whether regarded as especially serious or not.
Whether violent or simply immoral, whether committed with planning or spontaneously, and the like, some conclude that specific behaviors have few similarities that would justify their being explained by the same theories.
This orientation has generated a large number of explanations of specific behaviors, such as predatory crime, common juvenile misdeeds, embezzlement, mental illness, homicide by females, and many others.
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