What is something that used to be considered socially deviant but is now viewed as a social norm? What do you think accounts for its change in social status?

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In the United States, at least, things that were once deviant but are now norms are not behaviors so much as they are attitudes. That is, I cannot think of anything we used to frown on people for doing but now actually expect them to do. For example, many in...

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In the United States, at least, things that were once deviant but are now norms are not behaviors so much as they are attitudes. That is, I cannot think of anything we used to frown on people for doing but now actually expect them to do. For example, many in the United States used to frown on interracial marriage, but, while most Americans are accepting of interracial couples, they do not expect people to marry exclusively outside their race today. We previously disapproved strongly of homosexuality, but we do not expect all people to be homosexual today. Instead, what has changed is our attitudes about these things.

In the past, it was considered deviant to tolerate and accept various kinds of behaviors. Among these behaviors were such things as

  • Racial integration and mixing
  • Sex/ childbearing outside of wedlock
  • Homosexuality
  • Divorce

In the past, people were expected to disapprove strongly of these things. It would have seemed very odd for a person to express their support for any of these ideas in the 1850s.  Today, by contrast, many Americans disapprove of people who do not tolerate these behaviors. This is not to say that we wholeheartedly approve of all of them; many people think it is better for families to stay intact and for people to procreate only while married. It would seem deviant today, however, to shun someone for being divorced or because they had a child without getting married. Thus, tolerance for all of these things was once deviant but is now a norm.

I think that this has come about because our country is much richer than it was in the past. Most people do not have to worry about staving off starvation and homelessness, so they want things higher up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. They want their lives to be happy and fulfilled. They want to be able to do whatever they want. They want to be accepted as they are. In addition, because the United States is (for the most part/ comparatively) so rich, Americans do not need one another as much anymore. Americans can generally get by on their own without needing as much help from society. In addition, Americans have come more and more to live in places where they do not even know, let alone rely on, their neighbors. Because of these and other factors, many Americans have developed the attitude that their rights are the most important thing. Now that Americans believe their own rights are paramount, they think people are deviant if they disapprove of the choices someone makes or who that person is.

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