Social deviance, broadly defined, applies to any behavior, belief, or appearance that violates prevailing social norms. Norms are social standards concerning what members of a group expect and believe is acceptable conduct in a given situation. The power of norms to govern individual behavior derives from the perception that others endorse and will enforce the normative standards. When an individual's or a minority group's behavior, belief, or appearance deviates from normative standards, the individual or the group members risk becoming the targets of social disapproval and other forms of punishment. Examples of social deviance range from minor breaches of social etiquette to major violations of the law. This entry examines the development of thinking about social deviance, describes current perspectives on crime and punishment, and ...

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