Problems in Defining Deviance

The concept of deviance is a derogatory public term but to sociologists it is an objective and neutral concept.   A very wide spectrum of ideas and theories are involved in describing deviance. It is a dynamic concept which can be explained from different perspectives by individuals in different cultures, across cultures at different times. The view towards deviance is influenced by many things which include norms, values, and beliefs of a society. Some instances of deviance barely raise eyebrows, other cases command a swift and severe response, (Macionis and Gerber; 2002).This essay will be discussing the problems that arise in attempting to define deviance.
There is always the assumption that there is some agreement regarding what is deviant and who gets defined as deviant for example no one would challenge the notion that child abuse is bad and the abusers should be punished. However the level of agreement within a given society over what is deviant and what specific acts constitute child abuse. Newman (1995)Some argue that beating a child is abuse but others assert that beating a child is part of discipline hence there has been debates on whether there should be an abolishment of child beating or there should be a limit, a method of discipline to one parent could be child abuse to another.
The conventional view of deviance is norm violation or breaking rules or crime. This approach is primarily valuable in defining deviance in terms of criminal deviance as it focuses in characteristics of the deviant as well as the social structural conditions that lead to deviant acts. However this approach cannot explain non criminal deviance and there are criminal acts which are not defined as deviance for example in Zimbabwe there was time people sustained themselves by engaging in foreign currency deals, these were commonly called money changers.   This absolutist definition of deviance does not allow alternative conceptions of right or wrong, Newman (1995). This can lead...