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Deviant Acts in Society: Examples & Concept

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  • 0:01 Deviant Acts:…
  • 1:45 Deviance & Culture
  • 2:47 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Did you know that in some cultures, wearing all black is considered a deviant act? Learn more about deviant acts in society from examples. Then, test your knowledge with a quiz.

Deviant Acts: Definition and Examples

Jane and Molly were childhood friends who grew up in the same neighborhood. Like most teenage girls in their neighborhood, Jane and Molly had bubbly personalities, wore a lot of bright colors, and had optimistic personalities. During their junior year in high school, Jane began hanging with a group of friends who were known for breaking the rules. Jane became upset with a teacher and, at her new friends' encouragement, decided to start a small fire outside the teacher's house.

However the wind picked up, causing the fire to spread fast and destroy the entire house. Jane was eventually arrested and charged with arson. After Jane's arrest, Molly's personality changed. Molly dyed her hair jet black, dressed in all black clothing, and wore black lipstick. This made Molly stand out from the rest of her community and caused much tension between Molly and her parents. Both Molly's and Jane's behaviors are examples of deviant acts in society.

Deviant behaviors, or deviant acts in society refer to behaviors that violate social norms and expectations. Deviance can be something as small as dressing in gothic clothing or something as serious as burning someone's house down. Each society has formal laws and rules, and informal social norms in place that aim to deter people from committing deviant acts.

For example, there is a written law that states that arson is a punishable crime (formal law). Though there is not a written law, dressing in all black clothing and makeup violates the dress code that the members of Molly's neighborhood follow (informal social norm). So who determines what behaviors are deviant?

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