Monday, May 1, 2017

Deviance both positive and negative

Deviance is the repeated or serious violation of society's expectations. What is expected by society varies depending on where you are and when you are there. For example, cell phones used to be unacceptable at any school function just a matter of years ago. Now, I see students wearing cell phones on their waists and they are not perceived as deviant. It should be noted though that deviance doesn't just have to be negative. Check out this story from NPR:
A Victim Treats His Mugger Right
Julio Diaz has a daily routine. Every night, the 31-year-old social worker ends his hour-long subway commute to the Bronx one stop early, just so he can eat at his favorite diner.
But one night last month, as Diaz stepped off the No. 6 train and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an unexpected turn.
He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife.
"He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, 'Here you go,'" Diaz says.
As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, "Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you're going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm."
The would-be robber looked at his would-be victim, "like what's going on here?" Diaz says. "He asked me, 'Why are you doing this?'"

What a crazy story. What do you think about that?

Here's another example of a former SHS teacher who quietly and secretly gave money to a homeless man on the CTA and someone else caught it on camera.  He posted it and it went viral.

So this brings me to the idea that deviance doesn't have to be negative; you can violate the norms of society by doing something positive, such as paying for the toll of a stranger, giving away money (even just a dollar) to someone who doesn't ask for it, offering to carry a fellow student's books/bag for no reason, etc... For your next experiment try violating a norm in a positive way. Try an act of positive deviance. How does it make it you feel? How hard was it to do? How did others react to you? Here are some suggestions from the Randomn Acts of Kindness(RAK) Foundation for RAK at school (yes this is a real organization). And here are some suggestions for individuals doing RAK in the community.  And here is a link to 35 pictures of people doing positive acts of deviance.

Here is my favorite story of positive deviance:

If you have some extra time here is a great story about positive deviance and a baseball all-star game:


  1. i really like that story. it's optimistic and reminds me there are really genuine nice people out there in teh world willing to help someone else out.

  2. Yeah - amazing. People like that are real heroes.

  3. wow, that's pretty ironic. I never knew that people would do stuff like that. Or that NPR would have interesting stuff on air!

  4. Hahaha you will come to LOVE NPR - it's funny and intelligent just like puns.

  5. wow! i liked the story too. Very cool!

  6. I never thought anybody could ever be so calm in the face of death. Reading a story like that just goes to show that some people get the gist of what is happening in the world today and what it takes to survive.

  7. Like everyone else i really enjoyed this story, but i know this story is highlighted because it doesn't happen too often. I makes me feel sad there is a lack of genuine kindness by people, but i think this story really shows how there is a little left.

  8. thats actually really smart...bc if you are just nice to people that in the end everything will work out. the guy got his wallet back and he even got the kids knife.

  9. Great story! I really enjoyed reading the whole article, I think you should share this with the class. And I found it really inspiring.