Deviant Behaviour

Deviant behaviour, for functionalist sociologists, is anything that deviates from the norms and values of society (not all of which is necessarily criminal). For interactionists however (especially those interested in labelling theory) it is simply any behaviour that we choose to say is deviant. They would suggest that the same behaviour might be considered normal or deviant depending on who was doing it, the context in which they were doing it and how people chose to respond to it. Therefore, it is not the behaviour itself which is deviant: deviance is just a label. For example "student high jinx" of various sorts (e.g. taking traffic cones home) might be entirely normal behaviour for undergraduate students, but the same actions carried out by unemployed youths would be considered anti-social behaviour and therefore deviant.

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