Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Generally speaking, deviance is behavior that a group or society considers inappropriate. Approaches to deviance are primarily biological, psychological, or sociological. Typically, biological and psychological approaches view deviance as a result of a defect or character flaw within the individual. Sociological explanations accept that individuals have free choice but emphasize that often societal forces shape one's choices, including the choice to engage in deviant behavior. Every group or society attempts to regulate its members' behavior and actions through norms of acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Such general norms, often classified as folkways or mores, with the latter deemed more important and carrying strict penalties for violators, find enforcement through both positive and negative sanctions. Positive sanctions are rewards for acceptable behavior, while negative sanctions are punishments for undesirable behavior. Because of the highly relative nature of societal norms from society to society and through time, deviance is a highly relative concept. ...