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Deviance refers to normative violations that may elicit social control sanctions. Most sociologists understand the term's domain to include crime, mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse, and sexual misbehavior; some definitions also include stigmatized conditions such as obesity and disability, or positive deviance, such as being too bright. Disagreements about the precise definition of deviance have been common throughout the concept's history.

The Origins of Deviance

The term deviance emerged in the United States after the Second World War. The new concept reflected that period's interest in macrosociological, functionalist Grand Theory. Talcott Parsons was one of the first to use the word in an article in a major journal. Deviance was a sociological abstraction; it referred to rule breaking or violations of important social norms that might ...

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