Deviance refers to behavior or characteristics that violate significant social norms and expectations and are negatively valued by large numbers of people as a result. Deviants are those who violate these shared

Conformity refers to behavior that is universally accepted, approved, or expected within society. Norms, which guide action and behavior, help to ensure conformity.

Social Controls

Social controls are mechanisms for maintaining social norms. They may be either:

  1. Informal (internal) social controls - include significant others and relies on successful socialization. These are generally effective and inexpensive.
  2. Formal (external) social controls - include structures or institutions that enforce norms or laws of society (e.g., police and courts). These are generally ineffective and expensive.

Formal social controls can be either:

Crime Classifications

Sociologists examine many types of crime:

Four Justifications of Criminal Punishment

  1. Retribution - imposes a penalty on the offender. Retribution is based on the premise that the punishment should fit the crime.
  2. Deterrence - seeks to reduce criminal activity by instilling a fear of punishment. Criminologists have debated whether imprisonment has a deterrent effect, given that 30 to 50 percent of those released from prison become recidivists (i.e., repeat offenders)
  3. Rehabilitation - seeks to return offenders to the community as law-abiding citizens
  4. Social protection - focuses on restricting offenders so that they can not commit further crimes

Theories of Deviance

Sociological Theories of Deviance

Differential Association or Cultural Transmission


Control Theory

Structural Strain Theory

Functionalist Perspective of Deviance

Conflict Perspective of Deviance