skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 121986 Find in a Library
Title: Why People Deviate in Different Ways (From New Directions in the Study of Justice, Law, and Social Control, P 71-100, 1990, Melvin J Lerner, ed. -- See NCJ-121983)
Author(s): R A Cloward; F F Piven
Date Published: 1990
Page Count: 30
Sponsoring Agency: Plenum Press
New York, NY 10013
Sale Source: Plenum Press
233 Spring Street
New York, NY 10013
United States of America
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Deviant behavior is viewed as complex social behavior that should be explained in terms of the same sociological perspectives that explain conforming behavior; social forces regulating behavior include societal ideas, resources, norms, and reactions.
Abstract: No theories cope adequately with the question of why people violate different rules. The lack of structural integration is an all-purpose explanation of deviant actions as disparate as crime, suicide, and revolution. What this amounts to saying is that the same thing causes everything. Three precepts should guide any approach to explaining why people deviate. One is that deviant behavior is social behavior and should be explained by the same sociological variables used to explain conforming behavior. Second, like social behavior, deviant behavior is necessarily complex and therefore requires complex explanations. Finally, it may be possible to construct complex explanations by integrating features from different schools of thought about deviant behavior. Following a detailed discussion of societal ideas, resources, norms and reactions and their impact on modes of deviant behavior, the authors conclude that deviant behavior analysis requires an understanding of deviance as a subset of all social behavior and that interdisciplinary research is needed on why people deviate in socially constructive versus socially destructive ways. 73 references.
Main Term(s): Deviance
Index Term(s): Behavior patterns; Behavioral science research; Society-crime relationships; Sociological analyses
Note: Critical Issues in Social Justice Series
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.