Deviance in Sociology Meaning and Definition

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 00:57 -- Umar Farooq

Meaning of Deviance

Deviance is violation of norms. It is breaking the norms of society, social manners and code of conduct in business and mutual agreements between the parties. It is against the social manners of family and marriage. It is the breaking of promise and breaking the law of state like committing crimes. Any violation of norm is Deviance. It is natural that man deviates from norms. This deviation when grows serious it is a problem If it is ordinary there is no problem. Hundred percent control on behaviour of man is impossible.


  1. Horton and Hunt define: "It is any failure to conform to customary norms".
  2. Louise Weston says: "Behaviour that is contrary to the standards of conduct or social expectations of a given group or society".
  3. Ian Robertson mentioned Deviance as: "behaviour that violates significant social norms and is disapproved by large numbers of people as result".

The behaviour belonging to Deviance is called deviant behaviour. Violation of religious norms is also Deviance. Signals of road crossing broken by the driver is a deviant behaviour. General violation of social customs of marriage is also Deviance. Disobeying parents and being absent from duty in service are also deviant behaviors. Telling a lie, abusing other and breaking promise are also deviant behaviors.

Obedience to norms is conforming. People following norms from fear of punishment or for better life is called social control. Control is obedience to norms. Fulfillment of needs of people through institutions is social control. Getting protection, affection and need satisfaction in family, education from college, income from business and service creates social control among the people. The agencies of social control are police, court, jail, family, education and religious institutions.

Deviation Varies From Person To Person

All the people are not deviant equally. The degree of deviation varies from man to man. Some are more deviant than others. Some people get into high rate of deviation and become criminal. They are punished by courts and sentenced to imprisonment.

Delinquent behavior is not equally evident in all cases-Some cases are detected and reported to the police, some are detected but are let free after mild admonish and a large number of them remain hidden.

Deviation and Culture

Deviation of norms is the violation of cultural ways of living. The customs, rituals and conventions of a culture are broken when there is deviation by the people.

Deviation and Society

Deviation of norms happens in society. By this act the bonds of social groups are broken. The society faces disorganization which leads, to disintegration and chaos. The function of institutions and groups is affected. Social problems of unrest among people develop. Social control is paralyzed and the social order loses balance, it creates a host of problems in a society.

Deviation and Social Change

It is breaking of social norms. This creates social problems. The society attempts to solve these problems by changing laws according to the requirements of society. This process brings about social changes.

Deviation and Law

The nature and extent of deviation of norms depends upon the nature and extent of the laws. The type of law enforced gives us the type of crime on its violation. One hundred type of laws enforced in a society give one hundred type of crime at least.

On deviation of law the offenders are punished and mostly put in jails. Law is an engine of social control. On its deviation the social control is disrupted. There is disorganization in society.

The deviation of religious laws is called sin. The deviation of customs and rituals is called vice and the deviation of social laws is called crime. Theft, murder, abduction and forgery are crime, sin and vice as well.