Online resource

A new typology of deviance: Integrating normative and reactivist definitions of deviance

Resource type
Authors/contributors
Title
A new typology of deviance: Integrating normative and reactivist definitions of deviance
Abstract
The concept of positive deviance is marginalized in deviance literature by the focus on negative deviance and the absence of comprehensive conceptions of deviance. Current conceptions of positive deviance simply parallel definitions of negative deviance, namely normative and reactivist conceptions. Normative definitions posit positive deviance as behaviors and attributes that exceed normative expectations (e.g., overconformity), such as overachieving students. Reactivist definitions view positive deviance as positively evaluated behaviors and attributes, such as athletic talent. We propose a new typology, which cross-classifies reactivist and normative definitions of deviance and more precisely distinguishes positive deviance, along with three other categories of deviance. Negative deviance, the traditional focus of the sociology of deviance, refers to behaviors that involve underconformity or nonconformity to norms and negative evaluations. Rate-busting refers to overconformity that is negatively evaluated. Deviance admiration refers to underconformity that is positively evaluated. Positive deviance refers to overconformity that is positively evaluated. This typology compensates for deficiencies in the separate conceptions of deviance by highlighting their contradictions (e.g., reactivists fail to consider rate-busting; normative theorists ignore deviance admiration). Current and historical examples in each category illustrate the utility of the new typology. The typology also accommodates the contextual nature of deviance, accentuates the role of power in denning deviance, and suggests the value of general theories of behavior as opposed to specific theories of "deviant behavior".
Publication
Deviant Behavior
Volume
23
Issue
5
Pages
449-479
Date
2002
Language
English
DOI
10.1080/016396202320265319
ISSN
0163-9625
Short Title
A new typology of deviance
Archive
Scopus
Library Catalog
Scopus
Citation
Heckert, A., & Heckert, D. M. (2002). A new typology of deviance: Integrating normative and reactivist definitions of deviance. Deviant Behavior, 23(5), 449–479. Scopus. https://doi.org/10.1080/016396202320265319