Deviant Behavior Sociologists

            Deviant Behavior Sociologists use the term deviance to refer to any violation of norms- whether the infraction is a minor as jaywalking, or as serious as murder. This deceptively simple definition takes us to the heart of the sociological perspective of deviance, which sociologist Howard S. Becker identified this way: it is not the act itself, but the reactions to the act, that make something deviant. In other words, people's behaviors must be viewers from the framework of the culture in which they take place. To be considered deviant, a person may not even have to do anything. Sociologist Erving Goffman used the term stigma to refer to attributes that describe people. These attributes include violations of the norms of ability (blindness, deafness, and mental handicaps) and the norms of appearance (a facial birthmark, obesity). They also include involuntary membership in-groups, such as being a victim of aids or the brother of a rapist. The stigma becomes a person's master status, defining him or her as deviant. Recall from chapter 4 that a master status cuts across all other statues that a person obtains or occupies. In my study of deviant behavior, I sat at a stop sign at the corner of Greenwich streets and North 12th street and watched 30 different cars as they approached a stop sign. The rule that I was taught when approaching a stop sign is that you stop over the white line (if there is one), look both ways, count to 3, and then proceed through the intersection. 30 cars I watched and only 13% of them followed the rule. If it was because of the type of car or age of the person driving, I have no idea, but only 13% stopped! 11% slowed down at least, at least to see if a police officer was there I guess, but I don't want to judge them on why they did it. 6% of the cars didn't even slow down to look if there was someone there. Out of the 13% that stopped completely, 6 % of those people where elderly, 7% where young people around my age (but I couldn't really tell because I was about 30 feet away).

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