Core Concepts: Social Deviance and Social Control

Core Concepts: Social Deviance and Social Control

Bullying is a form of deviant behavior that falls in the categories of both social control and criminal deviance. It is also deviant in itself since it violates the social norms that indicate appropriate behaviors that unite the society. Social norms are the behaviors, cues, and actions within a group or society. The term has been defined as rules set by groups for inappropriate and appropriate beliefs, values, behaviors, and attitudes (McIntyre, 2014). The explicit and implicit rules of social norms are often included in the law and if members of the public fail to follow the rules, they may receive severe punishments including exclusion front e group or imprisonment. Deviance results from interpretations and sets of beliefs including actions and behaviors that go against the social norms, interfere with the running of the society, and harm either one or others. There are two types of deviant activities including informal violations and formally enacted rules. Examples of formal deviant activities include assault, murder, rape, theft, and robbery while informal deviant activities incorporate standing too close to someone else, bulging loudly, picking one’s nose, and many more.

Bullying is a contemporary deviant social phenomenon described as any repeated or severe use of verbal, electronic, or written expression or a gesture or physical act by one or more people directed towards other people (Lyng, 2018). Bullying has the effect of placing the victims in reasonable fear of damage or emotional harm. It also creates a hostile environment and infringes the rights of other people in the society or substantially and materially disrupts the normal activities in a person’s life. Bullying is becoming more prevalent today compared to the past since it creates societal problems. Bully is a deviant act since it goes against the idea of a united society by causing victims to commit suicide and excluding them.

Bullying has several consequences, especially on the victims. The negative effects of bullying are episodic or ongoing feelings that can psychologically damage and individual. Anger and fear both raise the breakdown and may lead to the victim’s tissues becoming over-exerted, particularly the heart (Lying, 2018). The victim can also suffer depression. Depression can be due to several causes but two of those can be a coping habit in response to stress and the other ongoing sadness or grief. Where bullying is relentless and the victim has little or no support or remedy, they may begin to feel both a loss of their happiness and ability to live their life normally and the hopelessness of the situation. They lose friends because anyone else who wants to be a friend of the bullied person will themselves be bullied to stop them from spending time with the victim.

Several consequences are likely to be incurred when bullying becomes known to official agents of social control and social equals. When individuals violate specific social norms, they can be punished through fines or imprisonment. This can also happen to a bully in case he or she is caught by the law authorities (McIntyre, 2014). It is a crime to cause harm either physical or emotional to another person. All societies have agents of social control such as the police who enforce and regulate the norms. When individuals violate the law, social control agents are likely to step in and force the rules. In this case, the police may arrest the bullies who will be punished according to the extent of their crime.

Emile Durkheim’s functionalist theory portrays two functions of social deviance. The first one is that deviance serves three functions including increasing conformity, strengthening social bonds, and leading to a positive social change (Choi & Dulisse, 2021). For instance, bullying clarifies norms by indicating how people are likely to be affected by their actions towards others. People reacting against bullying can also strengthen their bonds and come with effective ways of fighting to bully. Bulling can lead to social change especially when bullies are punished. The laws against any form of harm act as expressions of morals, beliefs, and attitudes within the society. These expressions speak volumes against bullying behaviors.

The social control essence significantly differs according to the characteristics of a deviant, affected individual, and situation. Deviant acts are classified according to their degree of consensus of violated norms, perceived harmlessness, and severity of response (Learning, 2021). Bullying is not illegal but is widely seen as harmful and serious. However, if physical arms like assault and murder are involved, bullying can become subject to harsh penalties. Other mitigating factors that affect reactions and perceptions on bullying include antibullying programs and policies, provision of training to bullies, and imposing strict laws against the cat.















Choi, J., & Dulisse, B. (2021). Exploring the mechanisms of bullying perpetration: an integrated test of general strain and social bond theories. Journal of child and family studies, 30(3), 620-632.

Lyng, S. T. (2018). The social production of bullying: Expanding the repertoire of approaches to group dynamics. Children & Society32(6), 492-502.

McIntyre, L(2014). The Practical Skeptic: Core Concepts in Sociology (6th Edition). Boston: McGraw-Hill. ISBN10: 0078026873.

Learning, L. (2021). Reviewing Theories on Deviance. Introduction to Sociology Lumen/OpenStax.



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