2004-03-08 14:27:08 ET
Actually, anything that is not considered "the norm" is classifiable as deviant.
"Although we tend to view deviance in terms of the free choice or personal failings of individuals, all behaviour - deviance as well as conformity - is shaped by society. There are three social foundations of deviance, identified below:
1. Deviance varies according to social norm. No thought or action is inherently deviant; it becomes deviant only in relation to particular norms. The life patterns of rural Albertans, residents of Newfoundland fishing villages, and West Vancouverites differ in highly significant ways: as a result, their values and behavioural standards are different. Laws, too, differ from place to place. Quebeckers can drink at a younger age than Ontarians and are able to purchase wine and beer at corner stores, whereas only beer with 0.5 percent alcohol can be found in Ontario grocery stores. Casinos are now legal in Ontario - even on Native reserves. They are legal in Manitoba - but definitely not on Native reserves. In other words, what is deviant or even criminal is not uniform across the country.
In a global context, deviance is even more diverse. Albania outlaws any public display of religious faith, such as crossing oneself; Cuba can prosecute a citizen for "consorting with foreigners"; police can arrest people in Singapore for selling chewing gum; and, in Iran, police can arrest a woman for wearing makeup.
2. People become deviant as others define them that way. Each of us violates cultural norms regularly, occasionally to the extent of breaking the law. For example, most of us have at some time walked around talking to ourselves, or have "borrowed" supplies, such as pens and paper from the workplace. Whether such activites are sufficient to define us as mentally ill or criminal depends on how others perceive, define, and respond to any given situation.
3. Both rule making and rule breaking involve social power. The law, Karl Mark asserted, amounts to little more than a strategy by which powerful people protect their interests. For example, the owners of an unprofitable factory have legal right to close their business, even if doing so throws thousands of people out of work. But if workers commit an act of vandalism that closes the same factory for a single day, they are subject to criminal prosecution.
Similarly, a homeless person who stands on a street corner denouncing the city government risks arrest for disturbing the peace; a mayoral candidate does exactly the same thing during an election campaign while receiving extensive police protection. In short, norms and their application are linked to social inequality."
- Macionis, John J., and Linda M. Gerber. "Sociology" 4th edition, pgs 217-218, 2002.
A long winded explanation on deviant nature, but one that I like. If 75% of the population think one thing, then the 25% who think the opposite are deviants.
Gotta love society.