The term deviance describes situations in which people violate social rules and conventions. However, there may be many motives and causes for engaging in deviant behavior, and there may also be causes for defining other people's behavior as deviant. This entry reviews sociological and psychological perspectives on deviance.

Sociological Perspectives

Sociologists have analyzed how social order is sustained both in society as a whole through laws, institutions, and distribution of wealth, and through microsociological mechanisms of personal relationships, roles, and influence. Most everyday actions, such as buying and selling items, arriving for work in the morning, driving a car, and greeting people, are governed by clear social rules. People's understanding and following of these rules are essential for the smooth running of society.


Émile Durkheim viewed deviance as ...

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