How Do You Explain the Difference Between Crime and Deviance?


Quick Answer

A crime is classified as an unlawful activity by the state, such as a felony or misdemeanor, while deviance is nonobservance of the norms set by the majority of society. Deviance can be criminal or noncriminal, whereas crimes are all deemed as criminal.

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Full Answer

Acts of crime violate the laws of the state. Examples of serious crimes are kidnapping, homicide and rape. Felony acts and repeated misdemeanors are both classified as crimes that are subject to fines and qualified time in prison.

Deviance is any conduct that deviates from the standards or expectations of a group or society. The interpretation of deviance is multifaceted, because social norms differ among groups, places and times. For example, female genital mutilation may not be a deviant act in some Asian and African countries, but it is taboo in the United States.

Fear of God and social norms often controls the acts of deviance. Crimes are controlled by the law enforcers and the law makers. Society has no control in castigating deviant behavior, but governments have the authority to punish criminal offenders. For example, a religious person regulates his alcohol intake in order to avoid being an alcoholic, which is deviant according to his church. Another person may decide not to drive while intoxicated for fear of committing a criminal act.

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