What Are the Functions of Deviance?

The four functions of deviance are the confirmation of values, the continual push for change within a society, the bonded of members within society, and the distinguishing between right and wrong. ?mile Durkheim postulated these functions in response to the theory that deviance is actually a necessary element of society.

According to Durkheim, members of a society need some way to define and measure common values and beliefs in order to become and remain a cohesive unit. The confirmation of values is based on the idea of punishment as a reiteration of those things within a society that are viewed as wrong. At the same time, deviance also continually pushes society to change by forcing it to continuously re-examine accepted norms. Members within a society become bonded through their common values and beliefs due to deviant acts.

Deviant behavior also helps members of society distinguish between right and wrong through the common understanding of what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Another theory in addition to that of the four functions is the strain theory of deviance, which posits that people become deviant as the result of obstacles preventing them from being productive members of normal society. In this theory, deviance is primarily rebellion.