Sample Sociology Essay Paper on Deviant Act

Deviant Act


In a sociological background, deviant acts illustrate actions or conducts that defy social norms. Norms signify regulations and anticipations by which community members are conservatively directed (Figueredo, Gladden, and Hohman 201-221). Nevertheless, social norms vary from one culture to another, for instance, a deviant act could be done in the community and be considered to break that community’s social norm, but the same act could be considered a normal behaviour in a different community. In this paper, I created two scenarios for my deviant acts. The first one was invading the study room and causing disturbance to a colleague that was studying. The second deviant act was going to the printing machine and cancelling people’s orders. My deviant acts showed nonconformity to social norms. Taking deviant act as an infringement of social norms, sociologists have typified it as an idea, reaction, or performance that people of a social group consider to be a contravention of their social standards, regulations, or societal behaviour. A deviant act is taken as one that goes against the descriptions of suitable performance shared by the members of a community. The research question guiding this research is: How do people consider or deal with deviant acts? Deviant acts cause the departure of some conducts from the norms of a group or community at a given time and infringement of the norms where actions are in a condemned direction and of adequate extent to surpass the acceptance limit of the society.

Literature Review

            Deviance signifies the conduct that infringes social norms and is normally of adequate severity to merit condemnation from the mainstream of the community; deviance could either be felonious or non- felonious. The sociological field that handles felonious behaviour (conduct that infringes the law) is criminology, which is in another term criminal justice. Currently, Americans regard such behaviour as substance abuse, theft, failure to take a shower, prostitution, transvestism, deception, extreme gambling, and nudity in the public as deviant with individuals that take part in deviant conduct being called deviants. The perception of deviance is intricate since norms differ significantly across periods, locations, and groups. For instance, in some regions of Muslim Africa, Malaysia, and Indonesia, it is normal for women to undergo circumcision, which entails chopping off the clitoris and even sewing the labia closed, normally devoid of anaesthesia. In the US, the circumcision of women, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), is unimaginable (Turner et al. 68-83). Normally conducted in unhygienic settings that usually bring about infection, FGM is carried out as deliberately cruel tactic to avert females from getting sexual pleasance. In the US, such an act as FGM would be viewed as deviant and criminal behaviour. Whereas social regulations denote the conformity to the norms and ethics of the community, social integration entails the connection to groups and organizations. People can commit a criminal action for the good of others or for their own good warranted by lack of relations or due to weakened social norms.


Labeling theory

            Labelling denotes a practice of social response by the social audience, classifying individuals in the community exposed to, evaluating, and consequently describing (labelling) a person’s conduct as deviant or not. Labelling has been typified as the creation, assortment, handling of convictions that define behavior in a negative manner and the choice of individuals into these classes. Labelling theory, accordingly, proposes the deviant being labelled as ethically substandard, the deviant’s internalization of the label and ultimately the deviant behaving in accordance with the label, drives that deviant act. That is, a deviant is labelled and behaves exactly as labelled (Turner et al. 68-83). With time, the deviant embraces the attributes that embrace deviance through carrying out such deviations to match the label. In this regard, the audience has the supremacy to not label the deviant individuals and thus the ability to prevent the deviance prior to its occurrence through not labelling them. Personal and community fixation to the label, as this theory affirms, makes the deviant person to abide by a self-satisfying foretelling of compliance to the endorsed label.

The labelling theory, while figuratively interactionist, has components of conflict theory since the overriding group has the authority to choose what is deviant and satisfactory and takes pleasure in the supremacy behind the labelling practice. For instance, a jail system labels individuals charged with theft, and due to this, they begin seeing themselves as per the definition “thieves” unable to change. Instead of being a quality of the conduct an individual does, deviance is a result of the use, by other people, of the regulations and approval to a wrongdoer and thus the deviant is the person to whom the label has effectively been used; deviant act is the action that persons so brand. Conduct just turns out deviant or felonious if labelled and inferred as such by particular persons in a given condition (Turner et al. 68-83). It is vital to identify the significant reality that the community is at times wrong in its labelling, frequently incorrectly spotting and misrepresenting individuals as deviants, and assigning them traits that are not in them.

In official stipulations, persons are regularly mistakenly indicted. Nevertheless, the majority of people have to live with the resultant disgrace (or belief) for the remaining period of their existence. In a comparable instance, the community shows double values, with a number of segments of the community benefiting from prejudice. Some behaviour in a given group is taken as completely suitable, or could be simply ignored, but in a different group is taken, by the same people, as atrocious. The medicalization of deviant acts, the change of ethical and legal deviant acts into a health situation, is a significant move that has altered the manner in which the community takes deviant acts (Turner et al. 78-83). The labelling theory aids in the explanation of this move since conducts that were previously judged ethically are currently being changed into an objective medical finding. For instance, individuals that are entangled in substance abuse are deemed sick rather than bad.

Control theory

            This theory progresses the assumption that weak ties involving a person and the community causes people to become deviant. On the contrary, well-built ties make deviant acts expensive. Control theory seeks to comprehend the reason behind people desisting from deviant or reprehensible conduct, rather than why individuals carry out such behaviour. This theory came up when norms rose to discourage the deviance and devoid of “control”, deviance would occur more frequently. Therefore, this caused compliance and groups as individuals will adhere to the group when they realize that there are benefits in conformity than in deviant acts and when a powerful bond in attained, there will be minimal or no likelihood of deviance as compared to when a frail bond has transpired. People conform to norms since they have an attachment to the community and the attachment is made of four constructively interrelated aspects that include the chance, connection, conviction, and engagement. In the instance when any aspect of attachment is damaged or wrecked, people have a great likelihood of acting in disobedience (Cooke et al. 337-357).

The control theory affirms that actions of force and deception are carried out in the quest for self-centeredness and self-will. Deviance is anchored in a deviant’s own determination. More modern control theorists shed more light to the theory affirming that labour marketplaces encounters not just influence the feelings and the interests of individual employees, but could also influence the progress of their children’s perspectives concerning adherence and cause engagement in criminal behaviour. In this regard, a considerable affiliation has been established between parental labour marketplace engagement and the deviance amongst children, though this has failed to empirically illustrate the mediating task of the feelings of parents or children. The affiliation involving socioeconomic standing and deviance could be better comprehended if the excellence of employment and its function as an informal social control are strongly checked (Cooke et al. 337-357).

Conflict theory

In the field of sociology, conflict theory affirms that the community or an association operates so that every person partaking and the efforts of the group maximize their gains, which unavoidably leads to social modification, for instance, political transformations and upheavals. According to the conflict theory, deviant acts are the behaviours that deviate from the course of social organization thus creating deviance. The organization’s capacity to adjust the norms, affluence, or standing comes into disagreement with the deviant person. The lawful rights of underprivileged folks could be disregarded while the middle class is received since they are in support of the elites instead of the underprivileged, believing that they could ascend to the top by backing the state of affairs. Conflict theory is anchored in the assumption that the essential causes of deviance are the social and fiscal forces working within the community (Cooke et al. 337-357). Nevertheless, it does not satisfactorily explain the white-collar felony. On the contrary, this theory affirms that the elite shape deviance and this generates the inquiry: who does this theory target? In conflict theory, regulations are tools of subjugation and they are harsh on the weak and lenient on the strong.

Communication across cultures

Communication across cultures is a discipline of research that studies the manner in which individuals from dissimilar cultures seek to pass information. Every culture employs nonverbal communication though its implication differs cross-culturally. In a given culture, a nonverbal communication could signify a certain thing and suggest a different thing in a dissimilar culture. The connection of communication across cultures with deviant acts is that an indication could be insulting in a given culture and be praising in a different culture (Turner et al. 68-83). Thus, this is a vital discipline of research since, as teachers, business workers, and all other professions that involve communication of people of different cultures, there is a need to comprehend nonverbal communication and their implications across cultures so that one is able to evade insulting communication, or deceptive communication. There are only a few nonverbal communication indications across cultures of which people require getting awareness. Communication across cultures can strengthen or damage a business agreement, or even prevent teachers from being rude to students of a dissimilar culture. Dissimilar cultures have unlike techniques of passing information and thus it is significant to comprehend the cultures of other people nearby.


            Taboo denotes a powerful social manner of behaviour regarded deviant by most people in a community or group. Speaking of such a deviant behaviour in the public is criticized and thus almost completely evaded. The word “taboo” originated from the Tongan term “tabu”, which means “under veto”, “not permitted”, or “prohibited”. A number of taboos lead to disgrace, disregard, and embarrassment. Taboo is not widespread though it arises in almost every community across the globe. Some instances of taboo encompass killing, raping, incest, and child abuse just to mention a few. Studies have sought to explain different forms of deviant acts with four dissimilar kinds of deviant acts falling in unlike groups (Turner et al. 74-83). The first group is “wrongly accused” a person, which ranks under other people rendering one to be receiving submissive or deviant conducts.  The second group is “pure deviance” that ranks under rendering an individual to felonious and law-breaking conduct. The third group is “compliant” that ranks under not being rendered felonious, but just taking part in the social norms, which are shared within communities; this group can also be linked to the group with pure deviance and wrongly accused. The fourth group is “hidden deviance” that occurs when a person is not taken to be felonious or taking part in whichever law-breaking conduct.



For the use in this study, the data was collected at the school level. Eight participants took part in this study, unaware of it. There was one student in the study room, seven students at the printing area, and the printing machine attendant. The aim of using this sample was to generalize the results as a representation of the school population.

Data collection

I created two scenarios for my deviant acts by invading the private area, study room. I went into a study room where a fellow student was busy studying from his laptop and then put my legs on the table and began playing with my mobile phone. I later gave my friend a call, started talking to him on my phone, and requested him to come and join me in the study room. To further irritate the student that was studying, I drank water from his cup. At first, he was looking at me with a small grin as to ask: what the hell are you doing? He then started to get pissed and curse me and I thus explained to him that I was only carrying out a social experiment. The other deviant act was when I headed to the printing area in the same section and I began cancelling people’s orders so that I could have my order could be printed faster. I insisted that my order was more important and urgent. I then had an argument with a girl concerning why my order was more important. I was being a nuisance. I had initially planned to go to the library and create the same disturbance, but I reconsidered my decision, as the study room appeared more suitable for my scenario.

Dependent Variables

Deviant behaviour

            The deviant behaviour is represented by the disturbance I caused both in the study room and at the printing area. This behaviour flouted the social norms in the school. The difficulty in describing deviant behaviour is the lack of worldwide basis for what comprises fit or standard behaviour.


            The social science on self-concept views it as developing from social interaction with other people and, in return, as directing or swaying a person’s conduct. Self-concept illustrates the entirety of a person’s ideas and sentiments with respect to the self as an entity.

Independent Variable

Social Integration

The school environment offers a setting with a vital component of social integration devoid of which students cannot be socially incorporated into the affiliations directed by the larger community. Student participation (which is operationalized as the extent of student contribution in extracurricular actions in the school) denotes both the most outstanding feature of the students’ social bond to the school and a strategy appropriate perception that is simply transformed by a person, the school environment, or the two. For this study, the perception of social integration is gauged by the contribution of the participants in the social experiment.


My actions were deviant from social norms as they appeared disturbing and intrusive to the peace of others. In the study room, it was deviant for me to place my legs on the table and to communicate with my mobile phone while a fellow student was busy studying. Worse still, it was deviant for me to go ahead and take water from his cup with requesting him. At the printing area, it was deviant for me to cancel the orders of others that had come before me instead of waiting. Were I in an understandable hurry, the social norms would demand that I request the other students to excuse me have my order printed first. An analysis of the outcomes has realized that participants reacted in the expected manner that could have appeared positive to them to indicate a reaction to a deviant act. It was right and anticipated for the fellow student in the study room to look at me with a small grin, get pissed, and curse me since I had interfered with his concentration, and it was deviant of me to do so.

Moreover, it was expected of the girl at the printing area to argue with me because, after all, everyone wanted his order printed and since it was not possible to print them all together, the social norms demand that the students that came earlier have their orders printed first.  In this case, the conflict theory is applicable as my efforts at the printing area operated to my benefit at the cost of the other students by having my order printed first despite my being there latest. Consistent with the conflict theory, my deviant acts were conducts that deviated from the course of social organization, consequently, generating deviance (Cooke et al. 337-357). The school environment’s capacity to regulate the norms, comfortable circumstances, or standing would have come into disagreement me, as the deviant person in this social experiment.


Norms indicate guidelines and anticipations by which members of a given group are directed and a deviant act is taken as the behaviour that goes against the depictions of appropriate performance set by the members the group. Deviance is normally of ample severity, worth criticism from the mainstream of the community, and could either be illegalized or non- illegalized. The social experiment supported my research question as the participants considered my deviant acts uncouth and thus reacted with distaste.


Works Cited

Cooke, David J., et al. “Reconstructing psychopathy: Clarifying the significance of antisocial and socially deviant behavior in the diagnosis of psychopathic personality disorder.” Journal of personality disorders 18.4 (2004): 337-357.

Figueredo, Jose, Paul Gladden, and Zachary Hohman. “The evolutionary psychology of criminal behavior.” Applied evolutionary psychology 13.1 (2011): 201-221.

Turner, R. Jay, et al. “The social antecedents of anger proneness in young adulthood.” Journal of health and social behavior 48.1 (2007): 68-83.