Deviance is the violation of social norms. Norms are codes of ethics that act as guidance to people on how to live their lives. According to William Somner, there are three types of norms; Folkways are what a society considers being right with regard to culture and tradition. Issues like dressing, mannerisms are in this category. Different cultures and people have their own guidelines on dressing and etiquette. Violations of these folkways will not lead to the arrest of an individual, but people will consider this person as weird. Mores are those beliefs that are held by the larger community. Most societies are against interracial marriages, substance abuse, pregnancies out of wedlock or abortion (Alder & Alder, 2010). Laws are those guidelines that incorporate mores and folkways. They vary from society to society. When an individual violates mores, laws and folkways they are considered to be deviant. Deviance and crime are two things that overlap yet they are different entities altogether (Jonathan, 2006). It has been argued that most of the deviant cases are not criminal, and some crimes are not deviant as they do not go against societal norms. For instance, an individual who is mentally ill is considered deviant but not a criminal as he has not gone against the laws of the land. A person in a cult is deviant but not a criminal Also; there are some criminal activities that are not deviant like in the case of over speeding.
Merton's theory of deviance tends to analyze what might be the reasons behind the crime in a society. It tends to look into crime in the society and not individuals. According to Merton, the varied social "strain" leads to varied crime patterns. This strain is as a result of the pressure that is put on people to meet the societal goals and the inability to achieve these goals (Alder & Alder, 2012). The society has set goals that are considered legitimate to be achieved by people. In this case, individuals are not barred from achieving these goals since they are culturally acceptable. This "strain" is as a result of the goals people can meet and the procedures they are to use to meet these goals. According to Merton, people opt for ritualism, conformity, retreat and rebellion when they fail to balance their goals and ways of attaining these goals (Alder & Alder, 2012).
People have been forced into being nonconformists rather than being conformists (Alder & Alder, 2010). When people succumb to pressure caused by strain, they tend to take up deviant behaviors. If a society emphasizes the need to achieve goals rather than the legitimate ways to achieve these set goals then deviance will be prevalent in that society. At times, people are forced to be deviant so as to achieve goals. Effective procedures are preferred even though most of them are against institutional procedures. Most people are concerned with end and not the means since society views attainment as the only reason for gratification (Alder & Alder, 2012).
There are three primary sources that are used in the study of deviant behavior. First, there are official statistics. These are data entries that are listed by the government or social services agents. Statistics on deviance in various levels deals with crimes, census, cases of victims of violence as well as court cases. Survey research looks into the various behaviors that sociologists consider being deviant. Questionnaires are used to get information on these deviant behaviors. Examples of survey research include; the National Youth Survey and the Kinsey surveys (Alder & Alder, 2010). The other primary source is field research. In this case, research is compiled by sociologists after they interact with people so as to study their deviant behaviors. Intimate attitudes and emotions are looked into and recorded.
These sources have their advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages of official sources is that it is inexpensive. Another advantage is that official sources are quick to access since they are published for public viewership. The fact that these publications are collected over a long period makes them advantageous. They are, however, inaccurate, inconsistent as most deviant behaviors are not kept. Information tends to fluctuate…