Social deviance is a term that refers to forms of behavior and qualities of persons
that others in society devalue and discredit. So what exactly is deviance? In this essay we are concerned with social deviance, not physiological deviations from the expected norm. In general, any behavior that does not conform to social norms is deviance; that is behavior that violates significant social norms and is disapproved of by a large number of people as a result.
For societies to run with some semblance of order the problem of deviance is
essential and intrinsic to any conception of social order. It is problematic because it causes a disruption, but it is essential because it defines our boundaries as a society. It is intrinsic to a conception of order in that defining what is real and expected, defining what is acceptable, and defining who we are - always done in opposition to what is unreal, unexpected, unacceptable and who we are not. If we can accept the reality of change, then designations of deviance are crucial in locating the shifting boundaries of our socially structured reality. (Erikson, 1964)
What is perceived as deviant behavior is subject to change depending on our
position, place and time. Different cultures have different levels of social order and control, therefore making what can be seen as a deviant behavior in one culture highly acceptable in another.
When we define someone or some group as deviant - we strengthen our own
position and simplify our response to the "other": we can ignore, expunge, destroy, or rehabilitate them. We convince ourselves of our own normalcy by condemning and controlling those who disagree. Deviance is a phenomenon situated in power: Winners are the good and the normal; Losers are the sick, the crazy, and the evil. Deviance therefore exists in opposition to those who attempt to control it - to those who have power. (Phofl, 1994)
Deviance is not a matter of the cost or consequences o...