What are some examples of status and role in understanding deviance?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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To think about this question, we must first define deviance.  The following, from the "deviance" link below, is a good way to think about this concept.  It says that

Precisely who or what is deviant depends upon a firm understanding of the norms and labelling process in particular social contexts.


If we think of deviance in this way, then the connection between status and deviance becomes clearer.

Status is a system in which various groups (defined by their race, class, education, or what have you) are put into a hierarchical order.  In a society that is heavy on status, it is common for the upper-most status groups to define what is deviant.  The upper status groups are the ones who set the norms and who get to label behaviors (typically those of the lower status groups) as deviant.

For example, during the Progressive Era in America, the middle class "native" elite labelled drinking deviant in part because it was connected to the lower status immigrant groups.  Today, many people see sagging pants as deviant because it is associated with a particular low-status group (young African Americans).  In these ways, the hierarchy of status ends up determining what is deviant.

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