Understanding Deviance


Deviance: A Multiform Social Construct


Featured Expert Interview

Interview with Dr. Karen Franklin

Karen Franklin, PhD, is a forensic psychologist and an adjunct professor at Alliant University in San Francisco. She conducts ethics training for clinical and forensic professionals in the United States and internationally. Her published research – including on hate crime motivations, group rape and ethics in forensic diagnosis – garnered an award for Distinguished Scientific Achievement in Psychology. You can access the interview with Dr. Karen Franklin via the following link.

Dr. Karen Franklin

Interested in Criminal Profiling?

Criminal Profiling

Based on the criminal profiling content covered on this website, 'Criminal Profiling: An Introductory Guide' is designed to let you dive straight into this fascinating topic. The guide provides clear and concise information on such things as the origins of criminal profiling, FBI profiling methodology and limitations; and whether becoming a profiler is a realistic career path. 

If you are interested in criminal profiling and would like to learn more, 'Criminal Profiling: An Introductory Guide' is the perfect place to start. See following link for full details.

Criminal Profiling: An Introductory Guide

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Forensic Psychology

Calling All Mindhunters

Inside The Criminal Mind: Behavioral Science Insights From The FBI

A must read for anybody who would like to learn more about the darkest recesses of the criminal mind. 

This book traces the origins and development of behavioral science within the FBI which has kept the iconic U.S government department at the forefront of research into serial killers and the criminal mind for over 40 years. 

Inside The Criminal Mind: Behavioral Science Insights From The FBI also showcases a series of landmark articles on criminal profiling, sexual homicide, school shooters and serial murder. You can buy this fascinating book on Amazon via the following link.

Inside The Criminal Mind: Behavioral Science Insights From The FBI

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The All About Psychology, Forensic Psychology and Forensic Science Website Collection

Writing in the Sociology of Deviant Behavior, Marshall Clinard and Robert Meier note that while people are generally confident in their understanding of what constitutes deviance, the fact is that 'no consensus reliably identifies behavior, people, or conditions that are deviant,' particularly in relation to emotive issues such as drug use, homosexuality etc.

Deviance does not exist in a vacuum, it shifts in response to historical, cultural, political and societal expectations. As a result, work on the nature of deviance takes many forms. Although common areas of interest do exist. Namely:

  • Interest in behavior which departs from social norms or socially acceptability.

  • Interest in the social processes which lead individuals or groups to be regarded as deviant.

  • Interest in the reactive nature of deviance e.g. how certain behavior becomes identified, construed and propagated as worrying, threatening or disturbing.

"The deviant is one to whom the label has successfully been applied: deviant behavior is behavior that people so label." (Howard S. Becker)

Topics typically explored within the academic study of deviance include:

Crime and Criminalization


Child and Elder Abuse


Sexual Deviance


Elite Deviance

Race and Ethnicity

Structural and institutional violence

Mental Disorder

Belief Systems

It is the Deviants Among us Who Hold Society Together

Insightful Animation about social deviance and social control from Dalton Conley's book, You May Ask Yourself: An Introduction to Thinking Like a Sociologist.

Recommended Reading

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Criminal Profiling: An Introductory Guide Book Cover and Description.