Talk:Deviance (sociology)

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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Deviance (sociology):

Here are some tasks awaiting attention:
  • Article requests :
    Information on more theorists
    More information on the functions of deviance
    History of deviance
  • Cleanup :
    Prosify lists
    Condense existing theories and create daughter theory pages
    Add more references
  • Expand :
    Functions of deviance
    Types of deviance
    Deviance in literature
  • Merge :
    Content from Social Deviance Wikibook
    Content below from articles redirected here
  • NPOV :
    Ensure subcultures and types are NPOV
  • Update :
    Theories with those not covered

/to do


This will act as a sandbox page for the merger of Deviant behavior and Sociology of deviance until the merge proposals are completed or closed. Madcoverboy 03:16, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

Complete. JenLouise (talk) 05:08, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

Discussions from old Sociology of Deviance talk page[edit]

The following is the topics from the talk page of the old sociology of deviance article, as I think some of the discussion is relevant to this article. JenLouise (talk) 04:42, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

It would be good to if we could find some sort of commentary on the various theories to try and tie the article together. I think I can remember one book that does it but it is quite old, so if anyone has any more recent knowledge please add contribute it. JenLouise 09:37, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

Anomie|Strain theory (sociology)[edit]

this sectionj says nothing about anomie, instead it is all about strain theory. yet it does mention "anomie" first as the section title, and states "anomie" as the main article. seems a bit odd..· Lygophile has spoken 21:11, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

It doesn't even say anything about strain theory, it just lays out the taxonomy. { Ben S. Nelson } 02:10, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

I've removed the anomie main article tag now that it is headed "strain theory". I don't know what other information from strain theory should be included over and above the taxonomy, but perhaps you could improve this section? JenLouise 03:47, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

Functions of Deviance[edit]

Someone removed the following section from the article. It does have some merit, although it is not referenced which is possibly why it was deleted. I have inserted it here so that I can go and find references for it and put it back in. Emile Durkheim (the Father of Functionalism) developed the "4 Functions of Deviance"

  1. Deviance affirms cultural values and norms. Without good there is no evil. Deviance is needed to define and support morality.
  2. Responding to deviance clarifies moral boundaires. by defining someone as deviant draws a boundary between what is right and wrong (morally)
  3. Responding to deviance unites people. Example: Sept. 11, 2001, Hurrican Katrina
  4. Deviance encourages social change. Example: Rosa Parks, Rock 'n' Roll, Hippies

JenLouise 04:07, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

What is Deviance[edit]

I have removed the section on "what is deviance" as this was really the introduction, and introductions don't have headings. I have altered some of the text to more specifically refer to the sociology of deviance, and have removed the text that was defining what deviance is. I have however added a link to the deviance article in the very first line so that readers can very easily click through to the deviance article to read about what deviance is, before continuing onto the rest of the article.

I have also removed the sections on subculture, crime, etc that deal with the concept of deviance itself. This article is about the branch of sociology that studies deviance, not the concept of deviance. The information that was in these sections can be found here [1] and can be added to the deviance article if necessary. Cheers, JenLouise 15:53, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

Room for improvement[edit]

There is alot of room for improvement, both in this article and deviant behaviour. Both contain discussion of theories of deviance. I think we need to work out what belongs in what article and work on improving them. (Although if you can improve the article in any of the ways listed below, then please jump right in! Also I think we need to educate visitors/editors that this article is about a branch of sociology not about deviance per se. JenLouise 13:03, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

brief overview of development of research tradition
the article jumps right in to Becker and labeling theory-- but we don't have a sense of context for how this research area developed. just a brief paragraph that lays out the development along with key historical figures in the research tradition would be very helpful to the readers.--Htw3 18:42, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
control theory
There is no discussion of control theory. Control theory is probably one of the most important current theories applied to deviance and criminal behavior yet it is missing here. I know the Stark text has a decent overview, and that major contemporary researchers (like Robert Crutchfield) have recent research in that tradition. --Htw3 18:42, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
discussion of contemporary research
this is entirely missing. deviance is one of the biggest areas of research in sociology. this article would be much better if it tied into important recent research and introduced the types of issues that are being investigated. --Htw3 18:42, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
finally-- there should not be a bibliographic entry in the middle of the document. check examples in wikipedia for how make in text citations properly. --Htw3 18:42, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
have fixed that. Whoever added it is probably new to wikipedia and was trying to add a citation where there was a "citation needed" tag. JenLouise 12:47, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

material removed[edit]

Quite a bit of material has been removed from this article that relates to deviance and not the branch of sociology that studies this area (which is the topic of the article). The material can be found here [2]JenLouise 13:08, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

Merger to Deviance (sociology)[edit]

This article and Deviant behavior substantially duplicate each other. I propose that they be merged into a common article Deviance (sociology). Madcoverboy 03:14, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

Merge complete. JenLouise (talk) 04:46, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

On intelligence under biological theory[edit]

This statement needs much better sources in my opinion:

His only theory that still holds true today is that all criminals seem to have a severe lack of intelligence

There was a single reference for this: Stark, Rodney. 2007. ;Sociology: Tenth Edition. Biological Theories of Deviance (pp.182- 185). Belmont, CA. Thomson Wadsworth. I don't consider that to be enough for such a statement, so I'm moving it here. --elmindreda (talk) 10:32, 25 December 2007 (UTC)

Content still to be merged from old Sociology of deviance article[edit]

The following content still needs to be merged into this article. I have pasted it here as I have now redirected the old Sociolgoy of Deviance article to this one. JenLouise (talk) 04:37, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

Sociology of deviance[edit]

The sociology of deviance includes the study of[ [deviant behavior]] (the recognized violation of cultural norms) and the creation and enforcement of those norms... The sociology of deviance contains a number of theories that seek to accurately describe trends and patterns that lie within social deviance to help better understand societal behavior.

The sociology of deviance is not only concerned with how to accurately describe trends and patterns - but also includes the sociological analysis of how notions of deviance are constructed and how certain types of behaviours can move in and out of the sphere of deviance. More emphasis needs to be put on this analytical part of this branch of sociology. I will see if I can find some content to create a section on it.

Biological theory[edit]

Cesare Lombroso was among the first to research and develop the Theory of Biological Deviance which states that some people are genetically predisposed to criminal behavior. He believed that criminals were a product of earlier genetic forms. The main influence of his research was Charles Darwin and his Theory of Evolution. Lombroso theorized that people were born criminals or in other words, less evolved humans who were biologically more related to our more primitive and animalistic urges. He stated that little could be done to cure born criminals because their charcateristics were biologically inherited. Over time, most of his research was disproved.

Medicalization of deviance[edit]

Sociologists have also studied what is called the "medicalization" of deviance. Power of the ability to label deviants has greatly shifted from religious insititutions to healthcare institutions. This is evident by the increase of scientific and medical explanations for deviant behavior. For example, a person with a mental disorder under a religious explanation maybe considered to be possessed or blessed with supernatural powers, depending on the religious tradition. However, the medicalization of deviance has caused mental problems and other health problems to be given medical explanations, and have impacted the roles in which a person plays. A person labeled as sick or mentally ill must then play the "sick role" where they are forgiven reasonable violations of norms so long as they are trying to receive medical attention from the healthcare professionals. Many sociologists have questioned the power in which mental health and other healthcare professionals have been able to maintain, and have even questioned the objectivity of the medical labels. Sociologists have also commented on the role medicine plays as an institution of social control much like the government.

Content from Deviant Behaviour still to be merged into this article[edit]

It looks like someone has already begun to get most of the content from the Deviant behaviour article into this one. So I have just put the remaining information below here and will redirect the other article here.

All of the content in this section and the one above need to be found a home in this article. JenLouise (talk) 04:51, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

Defining deviance[edit]

It is not the act itself, but the reactions to the act, that make something deviant. For example acceptable behaviour in one culture/country may be seen as deviant in another culture/country.

Crime, the violation of formally enacted law, is formal deviance while an informal social violation such as picking one's nose is an example of informal deviance. Deviance can also mean not doing what the majority does or alternatively doing what the majority does not do. For instance, behaviors caused by cultural difference can be seen as deviant, but this does not necessarily mean the behaviours are criminal.

criticism section[edit]

Why was this removed?

I thought it made sense personally, since not all deviant behaviour is harmful to others, or society in general. The acceptance of deviance also does depend on a society's values, and even individual attitudes. I guess the point is, if deviance is benign, then why should it matter? Isn't it just the personal beliefs of psychologists or sociologists that stress the "importance" studying deviance? If a person in a public place has, say, green dyed hair (which would in itself violate a social norm), then this only can be deemed bad by personal values/attitudes. It is benign in the sense that it is not causing anybody any great distress. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:00, 19 April 2009 (UTC)


Currently (talk · contribs) and I disagree about the use of the word homophobia or homonegativity. The user's argument is that "Homophobia is an imprecise perjorative label at best. Homonegativity is preferred research terminology for negative affect expressed towards sexually deviant individuals." My argument is that homonegativity redirects to homophobia, so obviously homophobia is the consensus term on wikipedia for "a range of negative attitudes and feelings towards homosexuality" and homosexuals. So let's have a discussion here! Lova Falk talk 11:23, 11 July 2010 (UTC)


Corrected redirection of homonegativity to homophobia due to vandalism and lack of clear citations in the original article (also possible deleted by vandalism). Homonegativity is indeed the preferred term for negative responses to externally identified homosexual individuals. Homophobia implies pathology in individuals that disdain homosexual behavior for a wide variety of reasons, including intellectual and religious based opposition. "Homophobia" in this context is a nod to the expanding pejorative use of the word.

Baumeister, R.F. (2001). Social Psychology and human Sexuality: Key Readings. Philadelphia, PA: Taylor & Francis

Additionally, the growing use of the term "homophobia" to describe anyone that does not advocate homosexuality as normative behavior is a form of "Condemnation Of The Condemners" indicated in Neutralization theory. This countercondemnation and it's introduction into the discussion of social deviance as a reactive construction is abnormally recursive. (talk) 18:53, 12 July 2010 (UTC)

Okay, that's clear. Thank you for your explanation! Lova Falk talk 07:32, 13 July 2010 (UTC)

Biased To A Negative View Of Deviance[edit]

Deviance by definition is just going against what society thinks. Yet the article clearly has a slanted view towards the negative. Are there any studies on what leads to "positive deviance" such as runaway slaves before slavery was abolished?

There should be more examples of deviance in other times and places that would not be viewed as deviant in contemporary American society, such as anti-regime protesters in Iran for example or Christians in Ancient Rome. The whole feel of this article is that deviance=wrong and that we should all just be zombies and shut up and do what society says we should. (talk) 01:23, 1 October 2010 (UTC)

Irrelevant Comparison[edit]

In the table, a direct comparison is drawn between the use of thumbs-up in Canada and the middle finger in the US. Both of these gestures mean the same thing in both regions, and what's more the gestures are entirely different. Contrast this to avoidance of eye contact or the a-OK gesture, which are fairer comparisons. (talk) 01:18, 19 June 2013 (UTC)

I agree. Something needs to be done about that. (talk) 15:12, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Some vandalism still needs to be repaired[edit]

I noticed that an anonymous editor has recently deleted some of the references in this article (for no apparent reason). I tried to undo this edit, but it could not be undone because of conflicting intermediate edits. Jarble (talk) 16:06, 18 September 2013 (UTC)

Michael Jordan, sociologist?[edit]

Here's a funny one: when this article was created in December 2007 by User:Madcoverboy, he also added this section on control theory, that opened with: "More contemporary control theorists, such as Robert Crutchfield take the theory into a new light, suggesting labor market experiences not only affect the attitudes and the "stakes" of individual workers, but can also affect the development of their children's views toward conformity and cause involvement in delinquency."

On March 1, 2010, vandalized this sentence, replacing "Robert Crutchfield" with "Michael Jordan".

For some reason, this stuck until November 2012, when was bold and removed it. Unfortunately, User:Lova Falk took it for vandalism and reverted. She also added a source (a 2010 term paper by a graduate student of the University of the West Indies), but not without realizing that the text was copied.

So if I may connect the dots: a valid (but unsourced) paragraph got vandalized, some graduate student copy-pasted the vandalized statement into her term paper without verifying, and then that very term paper is used as source to verify the "original" vandalized claim. That can only happen in Wikipedia! :D

P.S.: It seems like User:Madcoverboy's original paragraph was also copy-pasted in this course guide (p. 107). --bender235 (talk) 15:23, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

Nice catch. Citogenesis is even more depressing when based on blatant vandalism... --— Rhododendrites talk |  16:11, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

Middle finger in Canada???[edit]

The section saying "In Canada, the middle finger is used to point" is not exact. Being a Canadian myself, I can assure that the middle finger here has pretty much the same meaning as in the U.S.A.. Thus, a more appropriate example is required. (talk) 02:13, 20 July 2016 (UTC)

I also don't think this is correct, but I'm not Canadian. "The finger" article has references to "Western countries" but mentions "In the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, the V sign or "the fingers", when given with back of the hand towards the recipient, serves a similar purpose"; however, Canada is unmentioned. One of the articles is clearly wrong. Dayshade (talk) 16:33, 16 August 2016 (UTC)