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Four Main Forms Of Deviance Criminology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 1373 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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There are four main forms of deviance, those are societal deviance this is an act which most of society would agree is not classed as part of normal behaviour. Drug abuse could be considered as societal deviance, most of society believes that it is not normal and encourages criminal behaviour. Drug users become outcasts and are considered to be deviants.

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Concealed deviance is that which no one sees, something which a person can keep hidden away it is still considered not part of societies set of norms. A man, who likes to dress up in women’s clothes, could be considered a concealed deviant as they do this in the privacy of their own homes. This however, is considered to be not normal behaviour of the wider society and he would be considered deviant.

In Arab countries such as Dubai and Yemen it is socially unacceptable, due to the religious culture of these countries for women to be seen without wearing the traditional hijab, however in western society any women wearing one is seen as being deviant as it is not part of western culture. This would be considered situational deviance, where it is only considered deviance in the culture you are in at that time and may not be considered deviant by every society.

There is also collective or public deviance, this is deviance shared by a group of people which does not conform to that which is considered social norms, however follow a set of norms they have created within their own subculture. Gang culture could be described as deviant as most would say that the values of the gangs would not conform to the values of normal society. This is considered anti-social behaviour and in 2003 the government considered this a problem they created the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 (legistlation.gov.uk).

Crime is considered to be the act of breaking the law of the society you are in however, a crime can often be considered deviant by some societies. An example of this is speeding, some may consider speeding to be deviant however the police and social institutions consider this to be a crime.

Although we have a set of laws and social norms in this country these may not be considered either crime or deviance in other cultures. With the introduction of the Firearms Act 1968 it became illegal for anyone in the United Kingdom to freely carry a weapon on their persons and all weapons had to be locked away (legistlation.gov.uk) however in some states of America people can still carry firearms in their everyday life.

Troyer and Markle’s (1983) study of smoking in the USA illustrated how attitudes to smoking and cigarettes changed over time, and in fact ended with smoking being bans being introduced in the 1990’s. During the late 19th century smoking was considered deviant behavior by many as it was associated with low social status and immigrants. Women who smoked were thought to be particularly deviant as it was also associated with prostitution.

These attitudes began to change after World War 1, and smoking began to increase however by the end of the 1940’s smoking was considered a socially acceptable with people of all classes now choosing to smoke. With the advance of science came the downfall of the cigarette and by the 1960’s evidence towards smoking ruining health began to surface. This led to the ban of cigarette related advertising in 1970 and the eventual ban on smoking in public (Troyer & Markle, 1983 as cited in Moore et al, 2006).

Some believe that the need to commit crime comes from biological construction that certain types of people have hormonal or brain differences which causes them to become deviant from society and makes them more inclined to commit crimes. Cesare Lombroso one of the first criminologists did studies of criminals and believed that you could tell what crime a person committed just by how they looked, that physical abnormalities in a person made them more likely to commit crimes. This theory has now been discredited but some do still believe that there are some biological factors contributing to why people commit crime.

Over time and as social attitudes change so do the norms and values of those societies these can often lead to acts which were once considered crimes or deviant to become norms. Until 1969 homosexuality was considered a crime and anyone caught would be brought before a judge and punished. In 1967 it became legal for men over the age of 21 to have consensual sex in private. This age was then lowered in 1994 and 2001. (Haralambos & Holborn, 1980). It is now considered a norm to see couples of the same sex.

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Crimes change with time and culture and what is considered a crime in one society may not be in another, it is believed by most that crime is a social construction made up by norms and values of each society and culture. As each society evolves with time so does its set of Norms. Can we ultimately say that we gain our knowledge of what is right or wrong comes from the society we live in and the values that are set upon us as not everyone brought up in the same society falls into criminal or deviant behavior.


Anon.(2012) Firearms Act 1986(online). Available from: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1968/27/contents (accessed: 18th October 2012)

Anon. (2012) Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 (Online). Available from: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/38/contents (accessed: 18th October 2012)

Moore S et al. (2006) Sociology A2 for OCR. 2nd Ed. London: Collins

Haralambos, M and Holborn, M. (2004) Sociology, Themes and Perspectives. 6th Ed. HarperCollins: London

Troyer, R.J and Markle, G.E (1983) Cigarettes: The battle over smoking. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Cited in Moore et al. (2006) Sociology A2 for OCR 2nd Ed. London: Collins





Police Statistics

These are the official statistics that are used by the government, they based on what is reported to the police and also can tell which crimes have been resolved

They can be used to show what types of crime are most prevalent in which areas.

Police statistics can be useful in showing how many crimes get reported and what sort of crime is being reported.

Not all crimes get reported so often the statistic’s cannot be 100% reliable

Not all crimes can be categorised a crime and what one force might consider one type of crime another might not for example, distinguishing between burglary and theft.

Often these statistics can be manipulated to show better results

Doesn’t take into account the dark figure of crime.

Victimisation Surveys

These studies, the main being The British Crime Survey, were introduced by the government to try and uncover the dark figure of crime. They choose a section of people at random and ask them to talk about crimes which they may not have reported and crimes which have been reported within the last year which they have been victim of.

They are now considered part of the official statistics used by the government

They account crimes which may have not been reported to the police

They can help to uncover the ‘dark figure’ of crime

It goes deeper than the police statistics

They rely on people remembering if or what crimes were committed against them

They rely on people telling the truth about crimes committed

Still assumes that everyone defines what is or isn’t a crime the same way

Self-Report Studies

These studies are not part of the national crime statistics used by the government. They are questionnaires which rely on people admitting to crimes which they commit.

Can be used to compare against official states to high light differences

Can highlight crimes that are not generally report

Again relies on peoples memory

It relies on people telling the truth about the crimes they committed.

May only concentrate on only a limited range of groups.


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