Positive Deviance

According to Mengesha (2009), a deviant is a human behavior violating generally accepted and existing social norms. Deviance is any condition, belief or behavior that violates significant society or group’s social norms. There are two types of deviance, positive deviance and negative deviance. Negative deviances are the behaviors which deviate from the normal to the negative direction while positive deviance is positive actions and achievements beyond the average or normal behavior. In this study, positive deviance is a deviance of choice.

Positive Deviance

Mengesha (2009) explains that positive deviances are manifested with behaviors like innovation, charisma, altruism, innate characteristics, supra conformity and ex-deviant. Charismatic individuals have an extra quality which forces their followers to follow their steps and they include Gandhi, Emperor Tewodrous IV, and religious leaders in general Mandela and others. Altruism includes Congressional Medal of Honor winners, self-sacrificing heroes, good neighbors, saints and others. They undertake actions voluntarily without expecting rewards. Innovation deviance combines the already existing cultural elements and includes behaviors such as innovative or creative creatures and noble prize winners.

Supra-conformity is a behavior within the culture at an idealized level, like zealous runners and straight A students. Innate characteristics contain of culturally defined individuals for example extremely attractive women, movie star and superstar athlete. Lastly is ex-deviant who are previously stigmatized individuals and were labeled in a negative fashion but manages to convert to normative persons’ status. These individuals include transcendence (an accomplished person with a physically disability) and de-stigmatization (an ex-convict) (Mengesha, 2009).


On the article, “TRANSFORMING A DEVIANT IDENTITY”, the positive deviance especially the ex-deviant concept has been best explained. This article explains the process by which deviant behaviors can be transformed to be able to fit in social positions, roles and self-concepts. During the transformation process, the deviant passes through identity crisis which may act as a turning point to their deviant careers or behaviors. The deviant crisis acts as a condition that transforms a deviant identity to a more conventional individual. The crisis is mostly produced by discovery or recurrent feelings of remorse, which impels the individual to contemplate on making radical changes in their life.

Successful transformation according to the article is imperiled by three factors: pressure from fellow devi­ates to return to their group, continued distrust by conventional people, and lack of practice in con­ventional roles. The time that deviant’s spends in their deviants ways is spent away from the convectional world. This makes it difficult for the ex-convicts to go back to their normal life before deviance. Using ex-deviants in professionals like counseling may ease the transformation process of a deviant as the speaking from experience of the counselor creates a rapport.  

The article best explains positive deviances especially the ex-deviants in the best way because it explains the ex-deviants in an elaborate way. The article has explained the characteristics of deviants, factors that caused their behaviors, factors restraining transformation and ways of transformation. This article undertakes a situational analysis of the group where by it explains the groups past, present and probable future way of life. It has concentrated more on the factors that delays successful transformation and giving such a thorough research opens doors for solutions. Ex-deviants not only change their life positively but they in future acts as a bridge to change other deviants’ individuals.

Rubington, & Weinberg,. (1999). TRANSFORMING A DEVIANT IDENTITY, 348-49. Retrieved from http://file:///C:/Users/ASUSUS~1/AppData/Local/Temp/reading%205%20intro.html

De-labeling, Relabeling, and Alcoholics Anonymous

The article “De-labeling, Relabeling, and Alcoholics Anonymous” concentrates on rehabilitation and return of formally mentally ill patients to convectional world. In respect to my type of deviance choice, this article is the least in explaining the best way of transformation. The article explains the labeling theory which focuses on the process where a primary deviant becomes a secondary deviant. It explains primary deviants and how they proceed and if they becomes visible and exceeds tolerance, it brings the actor to mandated labelers attention like social workers, clinical psychologists, and psychiatrics. The labelers then identify if the actor can be classified to a type of deviant.

The labeling process eventuates: the actor’s self-concept changes, and their definitions changes which are held by their significant other. This led to an occurrence of behavior as a consequence of the new definitions referred to as secondary deviance. According to the article, this process is irreversible especially in mental illness or so-called residual deviance cases. De-labeling can successfully occur in three ways. First, deviants’ organizations develop with a primary goal of changing the society or community norms to make the original behavior acceptable. Secondly, mandated organizations and professionals who initially label a deviant behavior through treatment may announce their reformation. Lastly, is development of mutual aid organizations that encourages a return to strict conformity to the community norms while creating a socially acceptable stereotype.

The reason why this article explains the chosen deviance least is because it concentrates more on the theories and research. This article is less practical in the transformation process. In comparison to the first, it concentrates more on the reason and the cases, and less on the symptoms and, diagnosis and treatment of the problem. This article explains more on the labeling process. Deviants require ex-deviants who will act like role models to change their lives completely. However the article plays a big role in the transformation of deviants but in comparison to the first article, the type of deviance in the text is less explained.

Trice, H. & Roman, P. (1970). Delabeling, Relabeling, and Alcoholics Anonymous. Social Problems, 17(4), 538-46. Retrieved from http://file:///C:/Users/ASUSUS~1/AppData/Local/Temp/Trice%20and%20Romans.html


Mengesha, S. (2009). A TEXT FOR THE SOCIOLOGY OF DEVIANCE. Sociology Of Deviance. Retrieved from https://www.scribd.com/doc/275455617/sociology-of-deviance-pdf

Rubington, & Weinberg,. (1999). TRANSFORMING A DEVIANT IDENTITY, 348-49. Retrieved from http://file:///C:/Users/ASUSUS~1/AppData/Local/Temp/reading%205%20intro.html

Trice, H. & Roman, P. (1970). Delabeling, Relabeling, and Alcoholics Anonymous. Social Problems, 17(4), 538-46. Retrieved from http://file:///C:/Users/ASUSUS~1/AppData/Local/Temp/Trice%20and%20Romans.html

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