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Primary Deviance

Kundan Pandey Jun 3, 2019
Numerous studies in sociology present interesting points to ponder on human behavior. Primary deviance is a similar concept, related to human behavior. Here are some informations about the same.
Speaking in sociological context, deviance is defined as sets of actions and behavior that violate the traditionally established norms of cultures and communities. Primary or secondary deviance is studied deeply by psychologists, psychiatrists, criminologists, and sociologists so that they're able to delve deeper into the mysteries of socialization.
Stated simply, primary deviance is a term that describes deviant behavior in an individual. It is a part of the theory of deviant identity formation, put forth by one of the pioneers in sociology, Edwin Lemert. He conceptualized the idea of primary and secondary deviance. To study any of these concepts, one needs to understand what is deviant behavior.
Breaking established norms and rules, forms an integral part of deviant behavior. What are these norms and rules? Norms, in any human society, are several behavioral standards that one must follow as a member of the society.
It is not necessary that these norms be based on moral principles.The norms may be illogical and even irrational, but since they have been part of the culture, they are included in the behavioral standards. You can think of many of our manners that are not logically very consistent, and yet, we do follow them.
So, norms are cultural entities that keep shifting, changing, and evolving as a society grows. Violation of these is called deviance. It is a complete failure to confirm with the established laws, rules, and regulations. The primary deviance definition can be elaborated and modified for different societies.
Since social norms in one culture are different as compared to others, they may have several interpretations in different cultures. Deviant behavior, like theft or robbery, can attract huge negative social reaction. Criminal behavior is a perfect example of primary deviance.
If one is doing something that has little or no social implications, that behavior is not considered to be deviant. Deviance is independent of time and place, as what is perceived to be deviant behavior in one society, may not be considered to be the same in the other. When an individual kills someone, the government treats him guilty of murder.
However, if done in an act of self defense or during wars, killing may not be considered to be sufficient to put someone behind the bars. Hence, it is a relative term. So, in essence, the two theories, primary and secondary deviance, can be defined as follows.

Primary Deviance

This indicates engaging in an act that violates societal rules and laws. In this deviance, an individual doesn't change his/her identity.

Secondary Deviance

In this deviance, the actions taken by an individual are labeled by the society. This subsequently affects the future behavior of an individual, and he/she continues to do the same deviant behavior.
For instance, a robber after being infamous as a criminal, doesn't find place in society, and continues to live with the tag given to him by the society. This compels him to identify with the deviant identity and to continue that behavior.
There are various theories that have been suggested by sociologists for primary deviance behavior. A theory states that existence of primary deviance is only possible in terms of cultural norms. For example, a couple of decades ago, piercings and tattoos were not as per societal norms, but now they're no more deviant behavior.
Another theory, known as The Functionalist Perspective, as put forth by Emile Durkheim and supported by Lemert's Labeling Theory, is that society's reactions go a long way in shaping an individual's deviant behavior.
Hence, primary deviance is subject to intense research and study in social sciences. Scholars use these theories to understand functioning of individuals and societies more closely.