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Abnormality

1) Definition of Abnormality – Deviation from Social Norms

Social Norms are the things we as a society consider normal and acceptable. These are known as either explicit or implicit norms. For example an implicit norm would be allowing personal space

However if someone continuously acts differently to these norms, for example constantly intruding personal space, you may be considered “abnormal”.

Limitations

– Susceptible to abuse – This means it is relatively easy to class someone as “abnormal”, so people may use this as a way of getting rid of people of don’t conform to a certain view. For example, throughout the mid to late 20th century many Eastern European countries put people who didn’t agree with the government to mental institutions, saying they were “abnormal” for not agreeing with their own social norms.

– Deviance is related to context – Acting in a certain way in one situation or context could be a “Norm”, but completely crazy in another. For example, wearing beach clothes at a beach or swimming pool is normal, but in a formal occasion it would be a deviance from social norms. So this definition can’t completely define abnormality as in some situations otherwise abnormal behaviour isn’t abnormal at all.

– Cultural Relativism – What is considered deviance from a social norm in one culture might be entirely normal in another. For example wearing hardly anything on the High Street would be seen as abnormal, however for many tribes and cultures this is normal; surely all those cultures aren’t abnormal?

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About Sam Cook

A blog set up to help A Level students revise Sociology

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