Which of the following best describes how deviance is defined?
|a. Deviance is defined by federal, state, and local laws.|
b. Deviance’s definition is determined by one’s religion.
c. Deviance occurs whenever someone else is harmed by an action.
d. Deviance is socially defined.
The Correct Answer Is:
d. Deviance is socially defined.
Correct Answer Explanation: d. Deviance is socially defined.
The correct answer is d. Deviance is socially defined. This answer is correct because deviance is a concept that varies across different societies and cultures. It is not solely determined by federal, state, or local laws (option a) because what is considered deviant in one society may not be deviant in another.
Deviance is also not exclusively defined by one’s religion (option b), as religious beliefs and norms can differ significantly between individuals and religious groups.
Furthermore, deviance does not solely revolve around harm to others (option c) since some actions considered deviant, like drug use or certain forms of expression, may not directly harm others but can still be deemed deviant by society.
In essence, deviance is socially defined because it is a product of the norms, values, and expectations of a particular culture or community.
Deviance is a complex and dynamic social construct that is shaped by the norms, values, and expectations of a particular society or community. Here are some key points to consider:
i. Cultural Relativism: Different societies have different sets of norms and values. What is considered normal and acceptable in one culture may be seen as deviant in another.
ii. Historical Context: Norms and perceptions of deviance change over time. Practices that were once considered deviant, such as interracial marriage or homosexuality, have become widely accepted in many societies due to shifts in cultural attitudes and values.
iii. Social Norms and Expectations: Deviance is closely tied to social norms, which are the unwritten rules that guide behavior in a society. These norms dictate what is considered appropriate and acceptable behavior in various situations. Deviance arises when individuals or groups violate these established norms.
iv. Power Dynamics: The definition of deviance can be influenced by those in positions of power. Dominant groups within a society have the ability to shape and enforce norms, often labeling certain behaviors or groups as deviant to maintain their own social, economic, or political interests.
v. Social Control: Society employs mechanisms of social control to regulate behavior and maintain order. These can include formal institutions like the legal system, as well as informal mechanisms like family, peer groups, and media. These systems play a role in determining what is considered deviant and what is not.
Deviance is a multifaceted concept, and it’s important to explore why the other options are not the correct answers:
a. Deviance is defined by federal, state, and local laws:
This option is not correct because laws can vary widely between different regions and countries. What is considered deviant in one jurisdiction may not be in another. Laws are also subject to change, and what was once considered deviant behavior may become legal or socially acceptable over time.
Therefore, relying solely on legal definitions cannot adequately capture the complexity of deviance.
b. Deviance’s definition is determined by one’s religion:
This option is not correct because religious beliefs and practices can vary significantly even among individuals within the same faith. Furthermore, not all societies are driven by religious values, and many secular societies have their own norms and standards that define deviance.
What one religion considers deviant may not be seen the same way by another, and individuals within a given religion may interpret its teachings differently.
c. Deviance occurs whenever someone else is harmed by an action:
This option is not correct because deviance is not exclusively about causing harm to others. While harm to others can be a factor in defining deviant behavior, there are many actions that society deems deviant that do not necessarily result in direct harm to others.
Deviance can also be linked to norms and values related to sexuality, cultural practices, and social norms, which may not involve harm to others but are still considered deviant in certain contexts.
In summary, the concept of deviance is not rigidly defined by legal systems, religious beliefs, or a strict requirement of harm to others. It is a socially defined construct that varies across cultures and societies and is shaped by the collective norms, values, and expectations of a particular group of people.
Therefore, option d, “Deviance is socially defined,” is the most accurate description of how deviance is defined.
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