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Social deviance stems from the passive-aggressive attitudes parents have upon their children. This pressure, coupled with society’s own conformist attitude, causes certain members of the society to drift toward what sociologists call deviant groups. These deviant groups, like punks, hippies or other radical organizations, often fight against a society they deem unworthy of their attention and thus ignore. However Emile Durkheim pointed out that deviance is important for the structure of society (Durkheim 1893,1964). Certain groups deviate from social norms because of both their raising and social pressures at the time while others conform for the exact same reason.
“One of the main reasons people choose to conform to society is that their family responsibilities impose caution. Also the weakening of youth’s rebelliousness because the youth has begun to find his own identity (Dr. Spock, 1969).” People who conform to society’s wishes may also be greeted with more job expectations and higher wages. Oft times these people will choose a specialist in their field and pattern their behavior after this person. This type of social conformity is extremely necessary to any growing society. Without this kind of conformity the greats of civilization would likely never exist. As each great followed in the footsteps of another, for example Thomas Edison followed in the footsteps of Aristotle, society continues to progress in leaps in bounds. The social order can thus be maintained by social conformity. Conformity also adds to the level of social control a society can attribute to its overly passive citizens. The more conformist and meek a society is the easier it is for the controlling class to subvert the general citizen and force them in to their own beliefs of social control. “The conformist aspect of society seeks to subvert and control the more deviant aspect, taking an approach of them and us (Graffin, 1996).” The socialization process seems to favor those in society who would choose to conform. This makes sense since the socialization process is based upon parents teaching, and rearing, their children to become productive members of society. Almost all societal pressures aid those who would choose to conform to society, so why would anyone choose social deviance as their means of public outcry?
“Just cause you don’t understand what’s going on, doesn’t mean it’s wrong!” -Suicidal Tendencies
This statement, among others, can give a synopsis of the entire system of beliefs that social deviants choose. Social deviance has many negatives, which were explained in the above paragraph on conformity, but it also has positives that any society needs to fight apathy and discord. “Deviance can be defined as behavior that differs from the norm, especially behavior and attitudes that differ from accepted social standards (Am. Heritage, 1998).” Two different, yet similar, deviant groups can be used to describe the entire deviant subculture. Those who classify themselves as punks and anarchists are one type and those that spout “free love” and peace (hippies) are another type of deviant subculture. The first group chooses to be social outcasts because of a hatred of norms. This group attempts to destroy society and with it the means for bettering it. They believe in a type of anarchy that stems from loathing toward excepted values and refuse to get jobs or even conform to society in the most basic ways. Hippies on the other hand choose a method of peace and tranquility, believing that people should all love one another and anarchy would be beautiful if everyone could simply understand how to live at peace with themselves and nature. Although both groups believe in anarchy one chooses hate and aggression to show their views while the other uses love and passive resistance to demonstrate theirs. Both of these groups have a very specific and useful function in a society. They both show the need for change in a radical way, acting as a catalyst for social change. Like any deviant they both have a hatred of the social order, that is the order that society chooses to separate one from another. Also the socialization process that parents use to teach their young is ignored in order for the betterment of themselves. The parents are often hated as stated in the poem by Phillip Larkin This Be The Verse. “They fill you with the faults they had, and add some extra, just for you.” This poem about how parents unintentionally destroy their own children is another example of punk and hippie belief. However these groups also have their own beliefs about what is a social norm and what is not. For example no self-respecting punk would be caught dead without a large and colorful mohawk along with trash-gathered clothing. These types of social norms permeate even the lowest levels of a deviant group. As to why they choose to disobey the social norms, that is an entirely different question. “Often times deviance stems from early child rearing and, indeed, the parents affect on the child (Dr. Spock, 1969).” The parent controls the growth and development of a child in the early stages almost exclusively. If the parent unintentionally direct the child toward deviant behavior, by being in consistent and uncaring in child rearing, the child is likely to grow up lost until a time arrives where the child finds a group of people with similar dysfunctional attitudes. Another cause is the direct and purposeful hatred toward the deviant by his or her peers. “This hatred often causes the child to think and care about only themselves until they fool themselves in to believing they don’t need belief or other people. This type of self-destruction is common among social deviants and indeed expresses much about why youths would choose deviance as a way of life (Klockars, 1974).” The social deviant often conflicts dramatically and violently with the social conformist. Two examples of this are the 60’s and, in Britain, the early 80’s punk movement. More examples are likely to appear as our society’s atrophy spontaneously creates more and more deviant subcultures.
Social deviance is difficult to define, as each group chooses to be known in their own particular way. Social conformist is not as difficult as it is the standard with which we are all identified. Without deviance, however, how we come to know what is normal? The answer to that question is we wouldn’t the deviant both makes our perception of society more clear and causes us to react and act according to our beliefs. Either hatred or understanding, the end result is irrelevant it is merely the existence of the action that is important. Thus, society can continue to grow and change thanks to those who would choose deviance over conformity and chaos over order.