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Norms are rules and expectations by which members of society are conventionally guided. Deviance is an absence of conformity to these norms. Social norms differ from culture to culture. For example, a deviant act can be committed in one society that breaks a social norm there, but may be normal for another society. Viewing deviance as a violation of social norms, sociologists have characterized it as any thought, feeling, or action that members of a social group judge to be a violation of their values or rules or group conduct, that violates definitions of appropriate and inappropriate conduct shared by the members of a social system. Killing another human is considered wrong, except when governments permit it during warfare or for self defense. Social integration is the attachment to groups and institutions, while social regulation is the adherence to the norms and values of the society.
Those who are very integrated fall under the category of “altruism” and those who are not very integrated fall under “egotism. When he studied deviance he stated four important functions of deviance. Deviance affirms cultural values and norms. Any definition of virtue rests on an opposing idea of vice: There can be no good without evil and no justice without crime”. Deviance defines moral boundaries, people learn right from wrong by defining people as deviant.
A serious form of deviance forces people to come together and react in the same way against it. Deviance pushes society’s moral boundaries which, in turn leads to social change. Where Durkheim states that anomie is the confounding of social norms, Merton goes further and states that anomie is the state in which social goals and the legitimate means to achieve them do not correspond. Innovation is a response due to the strain generated by our culture’s emphasis on wealth and the lack of opportunities to get rich, which causes people to be “innovators” by engaging in stealing and selling drugs.