The normal daily routine for a father coming home at the end of a long day’s work is storming through the back door, slamming it shut, screaming obscenities at his wife and family, and secluding himself to his den for the rest of the evening. For this family, this happens daily and if were to not happen would cause concern and questioning. However, for the majority of Americans today this would be seen as hateful, wrong or deviant. Why is this not deviant to this particular family though? Soon you will learn the characteristics of deviance, relevancy of deviance to society, problems arising from deviance, causes of deviance and how deviance has changed throughout the years.
So what, really, is deviance? According to John Macionis in Society: The Basics (2008), deviance is “the recognized violation of cultural norms”. These norms “guide virtually all human activities, [making] … the concept of deviance quite broad” (Macionis, 2008). In America a cultural norm may range from watching television frequently to going shopping every weekend to eating out at restaurants on a regular basis. Not only do norms apply to America as a whole but they also apply to each religion and even to each individual family.
Each country, region, state or province, religion, family, and group of friends may have specific norms to which they abide by regularly. When someone from each of these particular categories acts differently than what is considered normal they are labeled as deviant. Some people are more deviant than others and some can be so deviant on a regular basis that even this has been viewed as a norm.
Through research I have found that some people question the validity of the deviance perspective. These questioners have tried to reason the necessity for such a label as deviance and are skeptical about it even having a significant function to society and the study of society, respectively sociology. “…[D]iscussions…debate on whether or not a particular area of inquiry is no longer functional or, in this particular case of the sociology of deviance, is dead” (Calhoun & Conyers,2006).
In Calhoun and Conyers’ (2006) article, A Sociology of Deviance in the New Millennium, they discussed the decline of deviant behavior as a result of more open-minded perspectives of people. In more recent years society has seemed to be more lenient on unusual behaviors so defining deviance has become a very “gray” area. Also, Calhoun and Conyers believe that the “…study of deviant behavior needs to be reframed to effectively rise to its past prominence” (2006). In their article (Calhoun & Conyers, 2006) they also brought up the aspect of cultural relativism versus deviance and since the United States is becoming progressively diverse the leniency of deviance has broadened.
I agree with many of their statements, but I also believe that deviance needs to be brought back, or to a higher level, in order to divide unusual behaviors from criminal acts. Some acts...