Social Construction of Illness Key Insights

Social Deviance

Social deviancy can be understood through biological and psychological factors. Discuss drawing on sociological approaches to deviancy

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Social deviance is a phenomenon which comes under the domain of sociology. It refers to those acts, thoughts or beliefs which are against the social norms of any particular culture or value system. This phenomenon was not so much popular till twentieth century however it has gain a lot of importance in twenty-first century. Movements of lesbians, gays and feminism can be considered as an example of this social deviance. It will not be an overestimate to say that these movements and other movements like this are the product of this century. In past such deviances were not valued by the people of the society and it was considered as a deformity. However now a days it is not considered as bad as it was considered in the past. Freedom of expression has also facilitated some of the activities which were considered as deviance from the social norms in the past. It is often assumed that any one who is going to show the deviance from the norms of the society is going to reflect the negative impact to the society. Norms are the assumed set of behaviors which the people of the society have to show while interacting with the society. Any deviation from the specific set of norms might not be valued in the eyes of the people of the society (Conrad and Barker, 2010).

Sometimes social deviance might not be seen as a negative phenomenon related to the particular society. There might be some values and beliefs which might have become outdated with the passage of time and the society want to get rid of such customs. For example honor killings was the norm of people belonging from the rural background of third world countries but with the passage of time as rural urban migration begins the people of the rural areas started to realize the fact that the this particular custom is not a good one and they should get rid out of it. Another example can be that in past majority of the people belonging from the third world countries were of the opinion that co education system is not a good one and it could result into the sexual relationships between girls and boys studying in that very institution. But now a day’s co education is not considered as a bad thing in the third world countries. But now the people of the developing countries are of the opinion that the confidences of the girls can increase if they are going to interact with the male counterparts. When some negative thing prevails in the culture of some society then the deviance from that belief requires the guidance of some influential leader who can take the people of the society outside of the crises. Nelson Mandela can be considered as a leader who took the country out of the crises of racism. The country like South Africa was suffering from the crises and it required a deviance from the norm to put the country back on track. Therefore we can say that social deviance can not be considered always a negative thing there are some situations in which deviation from the norm might be needed to improve the things prevailing in the society (Conrad and Barker, 2010).

As it is said that nip in the bud the evil same is the case with deviant behavior should be identified at the initial stage so that the damage can be minimized. If the deviance is going to be identified at the initial stages than it will also become clear that whether this deviance is positive or negative. People should try to identify that whether the deviance is primary deviance or secondary deviance. Primary deviance is a phenomenon in which the deviant behavior shown by the individuals of the society is at its infant stages. This is the stage that is primary stage where the behavior is not shown to the masses while few of the people who get impressed with the deviant phenomenon start to propagate their beliefs secretly. If the behavior is going to be identified at the primary stage than society can cope with those deviant behaviors which might affect the overall productivity of the nations as a whole. However if the deviant behavior goes to the secondary stage then it becomes quite observable phenomenon in the society and people might not do much to tailor the deviant ideologies, belief and value system. The secondary behavior starts to take place when the person is identified to be different from the norms of the society and he or she began to openly follow his ideas. This is the stage where the provision of counseling or guidance to the individuals might not work. All we can do is to minimize the damage which can hit the society in general. Secondary deviation is the deviation which makes the people of the society harder criminals (Bowles and Gelfand, 50).

The social deviance can also occur because the individuals who are generally showing this behavior are not mentally fit and be considered as psychotic patients. Therefore the role of psychologist can be considered as an important one in the society where the social deviance began to strengthen its roots. Most of the people of the society do not consider psychologists as an authority to treat the deviant behaviors of the people of the society. Such people should realize the fact that social deviance is deformity which needs a treatment like any other disease deserves the treatment. Sociologists of the society can also help the people of the particular culture in order to identify the deviant behavior prevailing in the society at its primary stages which will help in eliminating the deviances from the society. It should also be kept in mind that the people who show the deviant behavior often try to justify their deviant acts through explanations and by definitions of their actions. Scholars of the society will have to come up to the front and try to convince the deformed people of the society that there is no room for such justifications and their behavior is also not conforming to the cultures and beliefs of the society (Lombardo, 2010).

Some people are of the opinion that genetic reasons can also contribute towards the phenomenon of social deviance. It has been observed that some people are biologically more prone to the criminal behavior as compared to the other. Now the question is that why some people show more interest towards the crime genetically as compared to others? Some researchers have suggested that they have observed some cases where the criminals belonged from the casts and regions where the dominant activity is presumed to be of criminal nature. Lombroso, one of the famous researchers has suggested that the skeletons of our old ancestors have lower foreheads and broader jaws which take us to the conclusion that this criminal approach seems to come from our ancestors which resembles more with the animals. Therefore it has been established that the deviant behavior related to the criminality can also because of the angry nature of our ancestors. However this nature can not be justified to protect the phenomenon of social deviance where it is not acceptable. Proper counseling should be arranged for those people who try to justify their social deviance by linking it to their ancestors. Negative social deviance should not be welcomed because it can contribute towards the damages to the society. Damaging deviance should be considered as a disease which needs a proper prevention from both psychological as well as biological side (Hunter, Figueredo & Malamuth, 148).

Psychologists should take the history of the patient suffering from the deformity of social deviance. They should try to identify whether the problem exists in their family or this act totally belongs to the person who is a victim of social deviance. In some cases psychologists have found that the patients have developed an ideal and in order to follow the ideal they have changed the behavior which is not recognized in the society as a desirable behavior. Psychologists should try to inculcate in the minds of the victims of social deviance that the behavior which they are showing in the society is not a desirable one and it comes under the heading of odd presentation. Once this feeling will develop in the hearts and minds of the patients then the chances for the recovery will certainly going to increase. However as far as biological treatment of the social deviance is concerned it is quite difficult to recover the victims of social deviance through biological or medical treatment. The role of society is very important in the recovery and treatment of the victims of social deviance. They should make sure that those people who are going through the treatment of social deviance are not considered as aliens in the society from which they belong. The people of the society should always be there to support their ill brothers with out any condition. When the positive behavior of the socially deviant people will be rewarded than they will also be motivated to change themselves (Fave, Antonella & Marta Bassi, 2009)

Social deviance should be considered as a problem. Intellectuals of the society should try to bring the masses of the society together so that they always remain in touch with the norms and value system. This phenomenon has gained a lot of popularity that is majority of the people try to do the things which can differentiate them from others. It is the duty of the seniors of any society to guide the youth so that they should not deviate from the norms of the culture. Simply a pet on the shoulder can become a motivator to perform the desired behavior. Educational institution should design the courses which can highlight the heroes of the culture so that the children studying at the school level can associate themselves with them. Festivals and fiestas should be arranged which can highlight the culture of the particular society. Such activities will help in reminding our value systems and make the youth proud of their beliefs. However it should also be kept in the mind that such rein forcers should not result in the development of Ethnocentrism in the society. Ethnocentrism is the phenomenon in which people consider its own culture superior while de grading the culture of others. Such a situation might result in ethnical violence in the region. Values and beliefs should be inculcated in the young generation of the society but it should also be kept in mind that preaching of our own culture does not mean that you try to degrade the culture of others. Teachings about the respect of other cultures should also be given so that tolerance can be developed in the youth of the society. People belonging from different cultures of the society should preach the positives of their values and beliefs so that the youth could not deviate from the norm however it should also be kept in mind that extremes of anything is harmful. Social deviance should not be valued by giving it a status of phenomenon but it should be considered as a deformity which can be recovered through proper treatment.


Conrad, P., & Barker, K.K. (2010, November). The Social Construction of Illness Key Insights and Policy Implications. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 51(1), 567-579.

Bowles, H.R., & Gelfand, M. Status and the Evaluation of Workplace Deviance. Journal of the Association for Psychological Sciences, 21(1), 49-51.

Lombardo, R.M. (2010, May). The hegemonic narrative and the social construction of deviance: the case of the Black Hand. Trends in Organized Crime, 13(4), 263-282.

Hunter, J.A., Figueredo, A.J., & Malamuth, N.M. Developmental Pathways into Social and Sexual Deviance. Jouranl of Family Violence, 25(2), 141-148.

Fave, Antonella D., and Marta Bassi. “The contribution of diversity to happiness research.” The Journal of Positive Psychology 4, no. 3 (2009): 205-207.

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