Deviance of Time

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It is vitally important to recognise that deviance is relative, the context in which behaviour occurs is crucial to how it will be evaluated. This means that there is not an absolute way of defining a deviant act. Deviance can only be defined in relation to a particular standard of behaviour, and no standards are fixed forever as absolutes.

As such, deviance varies from time-to-time, place-to-place and person-to-person.


In one society, an act that is considered deviant today, may be defined as normal in the future. Possible examples are polygamy, one-parent families, or the age of consent.

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An act defined as deviant in one society may be seen as perfectly normal in another. Deviance is culturally determined, and cultures differ both from each other, and within the same culture over time. In the same way, definitions of crime change over time. Homosexuality was formerly a criminal offence in Britain, but since , this is no longer the case. Homosexual practices have not changed but public reaction to them has. Deviance then refers to those activities that do not conform to the norms and expectations of a particular group or society.

Introduction to Deviance, Crime, and Social Control

Non-sociological understanding of deviance tends to acknowledge the presence of something within the individual that compels, or at least orientates, them to commit certain acts. For example, up until the s, the basic approach to deviance was to view it as a result of biological actions that affected particular individuals.

Thus people became deviant if they had an imbalance in bodily humours blood, mucus, yellow bile, black bile. Other theories, such as that of Lavater involved measuring heads. In the early 20th century, Lombroso argued that criminals had particular physical features. The combination of biological features with psychological predispositions came in the mid 20th century; Kretschmer , and Sheldon In more recent times, there has been an association between chromosomes and deviant behaviour Price , Eysenck and the development of the idea of a genetic constitution, and Raboch and Sipova arguing the importance of hormones.

It was not really until the s that sociological explanations started to compete with biological or psychological explanations. Even then, these sociological approaches were similar to the existing theories, in that they were positivist - based on the modernist idea that it is possible and desirable to attain rational, and verifiable knowledge.

What Are Common Kinds of Workplace Deviance? |

The difference was, that for sociologists, the causes of deviant behaviour are found outside the individual. Such explanations then, as with much sociology, are a rejection of individualistic explanations of behaviour. This is the approach of social positivists. As already noted, the challenge to non-sociological approaches to deviance began in about the middle of the 20 th century. Workers who waste time by standing around the water cooler, taking the "scenic route" when making sales calls or stretching out the time it takes to complete a task hinder productivity, which costs the company money.

What Are Common Kinds of Workplace Deviance?

Other examples include showing up late for work, calling in sick when in perfect health, sneaking out early or taking extended lunch hours or coffee breaks. Employees who abuse company property are committing deviant acts.

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  • Introduction to Sociology/Deviance.
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  • Unproductive Behavior;
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  • Examples include employees who use company vehicles for personal errands when this is prohibited, who damage company equipment or who deface work areas. Abuse of property can also take the form of outright theft, such as when employees take home office supplies or fail to return items they borrowed from the company. Employees who are responsible for keeping track of the number of hours they work are guilty of property deviance if they "pad" their timesheets. The game of "company politics" occurs in many workplaces and can be considered a form of workplace deviance.

    An employee may spread false rumors or gossip about another in an effort to gain a promotion or more favorable work assignment. Supervisors who unfairly favor one employee over another or prevent deserving employees from career advancement are also guilty of committing a deviant act. Employees who regularly engage in gossip sessions can have a negative impact on employee morale. Chris Joseph writes for websites and online publications, covering business and technology.

    Skip to main content. Aggressive Behavior Workplace deviance can take the form of aggressive behavior. Unproductive Behavior Actions that disrupt or limit productivity are also a form of workplace deviance. Abuse of Property Employees who abuse company property are committing deviant acts.