Positive Functions of Deviance

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When we hear of the word “deviance”, what we immediately think of is something that is negative, something you would not want to be associated with, that is, we think of universally unaccepted things like murder and rape, or we think of the disabled or blind man begging at the street corner. As a result we view deviance as something that should be removed from society and once society becomes free of deviance, it becomes healthy and close to perfect. According to Aggleton (1987: 7), “deviance could be defined as behaviour which violates certain widely shared expectations or norms.” The problem with such a definition however is that norms vary from society to society despite the fact that globalisation has moved the world towards a single…show more content…
Examples of this can be seen in societies where they might have a serial killer on the prowl, such a community is likely to become closer and try to deal with such a predicament as one whole unit. This is mainly because it is easier to deal with such an issue as a group than it is to deal with it as an individual. Therefore, without deviance a society is likely to become divided over time as people slowly disintegrate and become more individualistic. As shown by Box (1981:33), deviance also clarifies social rules, thus people are made aware of what is acceptable and what isn’t. Thus when a thief is given a jail sentence for stealing, or when someone convicted of murder is put to death, people are made aware of the fact that such behaviour is not tolerated and will be severely punished. Thomson also points out that, “If deviance is punished, then the community’s norms are reinforced” (2004: 5). Thus without deviance, social norms will become less enforced as the community becomes more relaxed, slowly leading to a state of anomie. The biggest reason why most tend not deviate from society’s norms is because they are afraid of the dire consequences such acts would bring to them; we all respect other people’s property because we are afraid of what might happen to us if we fail to do so, that is, we afraid of being imprisoned for such behaviour. Thomson clarifies this plainly when he says, “society’s laws establishes what the boundaries for behaviour
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