Deviance and the Factors That Influence Deviant Conduct

“Deviance is a wide-ranging term used by sociologists to refer to behavior that varies, in some way, from a social norm” (C. Livesey). Based on this definition, we can clearly draw out that deviance would mean a behavior that comes in the form of rule-breaking.
Deviance is the recognized violation of cultural norms (geocites. com). Deviance therefore encompasses breaking of rules that are maybe criminal, social, formal and informal rules that have already been established in a certain locality or in a given situation.
Thus, deviance is determined and measured against established standards. Such standards are therefore the point of reference for the evaluation of conduct or behavior. When it conforms, then it necessarily means it is not deviant. Otherwise, such is considered deviant.
For example, the used of alcoholic drinks is not generally prohibited by law and thus by the basis of law is not deviant. As a social norm, some societies, especially those that are strict to religious norms, drinking alcohol is undesirable and is deviant.
As a social norm, wearing of improper attire in certain occasions is deviant but under the law, such behavior is not at all deviant because there no law or rule that governs such conduct. Therefore, we can say that deviance is dependent on the established norms and laws in a certain society. Deviance encompasses a wide range of other acts of nonconformity, from variations in hair styles to murder.
Societal Deviance includes those conduct or behaviors that do not conform to the categories or standards that are generally accepted by a certain society.
For example, to exhibit dirty finger to your teacher is socially unacceptable, and thus is socially deviant. The judge of one’s conduct is therefore the people in general and they based their judgment on what are the established social norms that they used to live with. Situational Deviance, as compared to societal deviance is said to be more localized, that is, determining whether an act in deviant or not depends on a single situation. For example, in cases of cops and soldiers on field or in a battle situation are faced with situational deviance.
These people need, by demand of duty, to kill their enemies. Killing is by religious and criminal norms not allowed, and therefore deviant. Criminal Deviance is by simple definition a deviance from juridically established norms. When we say, juridical, it has something to do with laws and legality.
Any act that deviates or does not conform to and violates established laws are criminally deviant. For example, to be impulsive is not criminally deviant but impulsiveness that lead to inflicting physical injury to others or that of murder is criminally deviant because it violates established laws.
Psycho-pathological Deviance implies a shifting from normality (S. Di Nuovo). Abnormal modes of behavior are not crimes but require sanctions as compulsory psychiatric treatments. Antisocial personality disorder which includes inability to conform to legal or social rules, dishonest behavior, being impulsive and aggressive and irresponsibility are deviant conducts that are considered psycho-pathological. Note that these deviant behaviors do not necessarily criminally deviant but these deviant conducts may lead to criminal conduct such as being impulsive may lead to fighting then to murder.
Primary Deviance relating to activity that is initially defined as deviant (Edwin Lamert) Secondary Deviance corresponds to a person who accepts the label of deviant. Secondary deviance according to Erving Goffman begins when a person acquires a stigma. Stigma, according to Goffman, is a powerfully negative label that radically changes a person’s self-concept and social identity.
Genetics has found out that there is somehow a biological factor that influences an individual’s deviant behavior.
The connection between a specific pattern of chromosomes has been shown to be related to deviant behavior; however, there are still not enough studies that will prove that this statement is true. But there are disorders in children that directly influence a deviant behavior.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a very strong indicator for future conduct disorders. Vaxa. com has provided a medical definition of ADHD as a “family of related chronic neurobiological disorders that interfere with an individual’s capacity to regulate activity level and contributes to impulsivity, inattention and distractibility.
” It is specifically a dysfunction of the Central Nervous System (CNS), most specifically the Reticular Activating System, which results in difficulties of maintaining attention and concentration, learning and memory, as well as involving an inability to process and sort out incoming information or stimulus from both an individual’s inner (subjective) and outer (objective) worlds.
This disorder therefore results to the child’s misbehavior such as being hyperactive and impulsive, which are behaviors that are far different from how he is suppose to act and apart from what is considered to be normal, and thus considered deviant.
Another disorder called Oppositional Defiant Disorder medically defined as “a pattern of negativistic (skepticism), uncooperative, defiant, disobedient, and hostile behavior toward authority figures that continues for a minimum of 6 months” (axa. com). Deviant behaviors exhibited by individuals with this disorder include willful disobedience, defying instructions and requests and arguing with adults.
Psychological explanations of deviance concentrate on individual abnormalities involving personality. However, subsequent studies found flaws on the psychological correlation of deviant behavior.
Geocites. com enumerated three basic reasons why psychological factors should be ignored. First, most serious crime is committed by people who are psychologically normal. Second, cross-cultural differences in what is deemed normal and abnormal tend to be ignored. And third, the fact that people with similar psychological qualities are not equally as likely to be labeled deviant is not considered.
As has been stated earlier, deviance does not necessarily be criminal deviance because there are established social norms that measure an individual’s behavior as deviant or non-deviant.
It is therefore but fair to conclude that both conformity and deviance are defined by society. The degree of deviance is determined by the society according to socially accepted behaviors existing in a certain society. The society therefore somehow dictates how an individual should behave.
For example, in a religious community, smoking and drinking alcohol are deviant acts as these directly opposed by, in example, the Christian religion. So an individual who mingles with the Christian community will try to behave in conformity with the existing norm.
On the other hand, communities which view smoking and alcohol drinking as an indicator of social status, as with the elites, consider these behaviors as non-deviant, and thus are normal actions.
Civil disobedience is a form of protest in which protestors deliberately violate a law (P. Suber). Originally, the main purpose of civil disobedience is to appeal to the public about certain issues through protests or public demonstrations. On most occasions, issues that drives civil disobedience concerns political and moral issues.
For example, laws that legalize euthanasia and death penalty have brought about many protests and public demonstrations. In such instances, participants usually violate traffic rules and trespassing.
Their violations therefore are covered by civil laws. On the other hand, criminal deviance is covered by criminal laws. Murder and the use of prohibited drugs are criminal violations and therefore are criminal deviance. Although both deviance and violations are punishable, they are distinguished as to what laws cover such deviance.
Deviant behaviors are measured and defined by established rules in a certain community, whether they be formal or informal rules. These behaviors are influenced by biological, psychological and social factors to certain degrees.
Deviance does not necessarily violates legally or juridically established rules leading to the conclusion that criminal deviance is inherently behavioral deviance but not all deviant behaviors are criminal deviance. Civil disobedience and criminal deviance are distinguished by the laws that govern such violations.

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