By: Jennifer Harding
In sociology, deviance is known as behavior that violates expected rules and social norms. Without social norms and social control, there would be nothing for us to defy. Everyone is deviant at one point or another in their lives, whether it be positive or negative, most of us have broken a social norm or a rule before.
Over time, the rules and norms of a society often change. Something that may have been considered okay or accepted once before, may be looked down upon or seen as deviant behavior now. For example, cigarette smoking. In 1965 more than 50% of men and more then 30% of women in the US smoked cigarettes. Cigarettes were seen on TV ads, magazines and in newspapers and it was okay to smoke pretty much anywhere (hospitals, schools, restaurants). If you were around in the late 50's/ early 60's and smoked, you were seen as a sophisticated person. or someone with class.
By the late 60's/early 70's, people became more aware of the dangerous risks of cigarette smoking. Since then, the amount of American adults who smoke has continued to decline, now at about 20% of American men and women.
Smoking has been banned in schools, hospitals and most public places across the country and is frowned upon in today's society. Society uses both informal and formal social control when it comes to smoking cigarettes. If a person was to smoke in a restaurant, they may be given dirty looks, stares, or even yelled at by random people (informal social control). But more importantly they would be told to get rid of the cigarette and failure to follow the rules could lead in being escorted off of the premises and/or being fined (formal social control).
This type of deviance was once seen as something positive and was a social norm before and has become an act of deviance over time. There are plenty of other examples of this, and even things that used to be considered an act of deviance and is now thought of as normal. As long as a society is changing, growing, learning, or falling apart, deviance will change right along with it. Lets just hope that more people will be a positive deviant to society rather than a negative one.