Multi-Cultural Social Control and Deviance

At all times and epochs of human development, the community has tried to eliminate the unwanted forms of human activity. Methods and means have been determined by the socio-economic relations, social consciousness, as well as the interests of the ruling class in a given historical period. The issue of the so-called “social evil” has always attracted the attention of scientists. From ancient times, philosophers, lawyers, doctors, teachers and psychologists have studied different kinds of social pathology: crime, alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide, etc. As a result, the sociological theory known as “sociology of deviant behavior” and the concept of social control have been formed in the depths of sociology.

Deviant behavior, understood as committing acts that contradict the norms of social behavior in society, has become widespread in recent years. Particularly, it applies to many multicultural countries, where there is a large share of immigrants. In this regard, the main purpose of this paper is to present the information on multicultural social control and deviance, examine the causes of deviations, their forms and methods of prevention. Also considering this problem involves finding answers to some fundamental questions, including the question regarding the nature of the category called “social norm” and deviations from social norms.

Social norm is reflected in laws, traditions, customs, habits firmly established in people’s lives, i.e. a way of life for most persons. In fact, it plays the role of “natural regulator” of social and interpersonal relations and lays out “the basic guidelines for how we should play our roles and interact with others” (Henslin 156).

However, in a society where some norms were destroyed and others were not even established at the level of theory, the problem of formation, interpretation and application of the rule becomes extremely difficult. In the modern world, along with the growth of positive deviations (political activities of the population, economic enterprise, scientific and artistic creativity) various negative deviations can be amplified: violent and acquisitive crimes, alcoholism, drug abuse, immorality, etc. Under these conditions, it is critical to investigate the concept of deviant behavior, its forms, risk factors and methods of prevention. However, it is essential to first consider the nature and causes of deviant behavior before going directly to the forms and methods of prevention of this phenomenon.

The concept of deviant behavior

Deviant behavior describes actions that contradict the norms of social behavior in a particular community. Eitzen and Zinn point out that “the name for behavior that does not conform to social expectations is deviance” (qtd. in Burton 107). In fact, it can reveal itself in the following types of deviant behavior such as crime, alcoholism and drug addiction, as well as suicide, prostitution, etc.

In a broad sense, deviant behavior is:

  1. a human action that does not meet formally established or actually prevailing in a given society (social group) norms and expectations. It is believed that various social groups have different norms, and thus, “what is deviant to one person or group would be conformist to another” (Burton 107);
  2. a social phenomenon, which is expressed in a relatively massive and stable forms of human activity, not conforming to the established norms and expectations.

In the first sense – as an individual act – deviant behavior is studied primarily in psychology, pedagogy and other behavioral sciences. In the second sense – as an element of social life – deviance is the subject of sociology and social psychology. All societies and states have laws and all their perpetrators are actually punished. Nevertheless, a considerable part of the people violates the established rules and laws. In modern society, the most important rules of conduct, which affect the interests of other people, are written in the laws and their violation is considered to be a criminal action. Sociologists usually deal with the category of offenders who break the law, as they are a great threat to our society. However, one of the most important things is to understand the nature and causes of deviant behavior and explore factors that can explain these processes.

The nature and causes of deviant behavior

  1. Biological factor – deviations in mental and physiological development:
  2. the low level of intellectual development from birth or as a result of traumatic brain injuries or brain infections;
  3. caused by emotional biases, contributing to the formation of increased excitability, temporary insanities, impulsivity in actions and deeds, thirst for pleasure, despotism, vagrancy, etc.;
  4. physical defects, especially facial cosmetic defects: cleft lip, cleft palate, defects of the ears, nose, jaws, etc. The emotional experiences of these persons are sometimes so painful that they can be turned into various forms of deviant behavior;
  5. genetic predispositions that can lead people to various deviant behaviors, including juvenile delinquency and crime (Henslin 156).
  6. Social factor – negative environmental factors of identity formation widely known as individuation:
  7. family problems: single-parent families, families with one child, distant families and others, which leads either to a lack of pedagogical influence on the child or to undue influence and connivance in the education process;
  8. an immoral situation in the family: drunkenness, quarreling, fighting, rudeness in the relationship, dishonesty, etc., which creates a negative role model and generates an appropriate worldview;
  9. negative family factors, contributing to the formation of negative attitude to home, family, parents, etc.;
  10. environmental factors that negatively influence children and teenagers in the process of their development (street factors, non-teaching capacities of utilization of various games in child development, etc.);
  11. the negative influence of the immediate environment and non-teaching behavior of seniors, parents, peers, etc.;
  12. the negative influence of the media, especially TVs, videos, Internet, etc.

Based on the above-mentioned information, Sánchez-Jankowski found that majority of the boys joined the gangs in order to “gain access to money, to have recreation (including girls and drugs), to maintain anonymity in committing crimes, to get protection, and to help the community” (Henslin 166). Hence, we can see that social factors play an important role in forming deviant behavior.

  1. Pedagogical factor – deficiencies in the child’s upbringing:
  2. traditional errors in family education. Cheng states that “the loss of parental attachment will lead to deviant behavior” (27). In fact, children from broken families tend to possess anti-social and deviant behavior;
  3. ‘greenhouse’ conditions, the child’s removal from the complex problems of life, from any vigorous activities, contributing to the formation of callousness, immaturity and inability to empathize with human tragedies to overcome various difficulties in a critical situation. In fact, “weaker parental attachment and low parental supervision are also related to deviant behavior” (Cheng 27).
  4. errors and omissions in the process of training at various educational institutions;
  5. negative moral educational guidelines;
  6. shortcomings in the system of reeducation;
  7. familiarizing the child with alcohol, drugs, smoking, gambling;
  8. inoculating the child with certain negative life patterns and activities.
  9. Psychological factor: non-compliance of conditions and methods of education with the individual characteristics of the child. Various deviations in child development necessitate the necessity to take them into account in the conditions of education. It should encourage the development of the child’s possibilities to overcome various shortcomings in the cognitive, sensory and volitional development of compensatory mechanisms.
  10. worsening relations with adults, especially parents, teachers, manifested in an inadequate sense of one’s maturity;
  11. increased criticality in the behavior of adults and their evaluative judgments;
  12. changes in the nature of relationships with peers, the need for communication, excessive desires for self-assertion, sometimes leading to various negative forms of behavior, etc.
  13. Factors associated with multicultural behavior:

In line with the sociological and cultural theories, individuals become deviants, as their processes of socialization can be unsuccessful with respect to certain well-defined standards, and thus, these failures affect the internal structure of the personality. When socialization processes are successful, the individual first adapts to the surrounding cultural norms, and then takes them so that approved norms and values ​​of society become his emotional needs, and cultural prohibitions become part of his consciousness. The individual senses cultural norms, so that automatically operates in the expected manner of conduct most of the time. In fact, immigrants possess a number of psychological problems related to the change of residence, mismatch in values ​​and social norms, etc. In such a case, immigrants come to a state of instability; their everyday behavior becomes spontaneous and unpredictable, and often even aggressive. Those individuals are notable for an increased level of personal anxiety and difficulties in communicating with others. Hence, the main task of immigrant socialization is to overcome estrangement in the new socio-cultural environment.

As for the risk factors, indicating the possibility of the formation of deviant behavior, it is possible to mention about some of them: 1) the challenge of adolescence; 2) the uncertainty of teen social status; 3) contradictions caused by the restructuring of the mechanisms of social control: children’s forms of control, based on respect for and obedience to external rules are no longer valid, and adults’ ways that involve conscious discipline and self-control, are not yet developed or strengthened; 4) accented character traits; 5) specific teenage reactions; and 6) the existence of developmental problems in the preschool years.

The forms of deviant behavior

The main forms of deviant behavior in modern conditions include crime, alcoholism, prostitution, drug abuse. Let us dwell on the specifics of each of them.

  1. Crime – new types of crime, in particular racket, sexual promiscuity, child prostitution, perversions have recently appeared among adolescents. The country has a growing number of young alcoholics and drug addicts. In addition, young people are disproportionally engaged in “violent offenses, murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, and property crimes, burglary, larceny, automobile theft, and shoplifting” (Burton 108-109).
  2. Alcoholism “is common in violent assaults, often by the victim as well as by the perpetrator” (Burton 110). The struggle with alcoholism can be found in two major ways: a) limiting the availability of alcoholic beverages, reducing their sales and production, higher prices, tightening the punitive measures for violation of prohibitions and restrictions; b) efforts to reduce the need for alcohol, improving social and economic conditions, the growth of the general culture and spirituality, balanced information on the dangers of alcohol, the formation of non-alcoholic behaviors.

3) Prostitution – all societies around the world have always tried to find the effective ways and means to combat prostitution. In history, there were three basic forms of policy towards prostitution: prohibitionism (ban), regulation (registration and medical surveillance), abolitionism (preventive, promotional and educational programs). However, all the prohibitions were powerless and ineffective. The elimination of prostitution is hopeless, as sexual needs are primary human needs. Therefore, it is important to focus on its civilized regulation. Factors constraining prostitution can include the following: an increase in living standards, the implementation of sex education programs, smoothing within social inequality, etc.

4) Drug Abuse – drug addiction is a disease that is expressed in physical and psychological dependence on narcotic drugs, gradually leading to a profound depletion of physical and mental functions of the body. For many criminal elements drug addiction is an easy way of making money. In fact, drug abuse leads to increased mortality, especially among young people and the development of a “bouquet” of physical and mental diseases. Drug acquisition becomes the backdrop for a series of crimes against the population: theft, robbery, brigandage, and more.

Multicultural social control and ways to prevent deviant behavior

The community has always made ​​efforts to combat undesirable behaviors in order to maintain stability and order. In this case, social control is a set of tools and mechanisms which may be useful in struggling against the undesirable forms of deviant behavior with the purpose of their elimination, minimization and alignment with social norms. According to Burton, “Social control is achieved through the application of sanctions, reactions of approval and disapproval to others’ behavior” (120). Therefore, social technologies of prevention and correction of deviant behavior are directly related to social control technologies. The institutions of social control can include the courts and prisons, churches, families, states and their institutions, public opinions. As a result, the struggle against social disabilities at the society-wide level is one of the areas of social policy. The social control technologies can include the following: technologies aimed at reducing unemployment; technologies aimed at improving the legitimate ways to achieve success and promote the social ladder; and technologies aimed at the replacement or displacement of the most dangerous forms of social pathology. In this regard, various support programs are of great importance when it comes to coping with alcohol and drug abuse and other forms of deviant behavior.

In addition to the above-stated information, it is possible to add about the main factors of social control: 1) methods and means of social control should be adequate to specific types of deviant behavior. Thus, the scientific, technical and other kinds of creativity can serve as a serious alternative to the various forms of illegal and immoral behavior; 2) the significant narrowing of the repressive measures of exposure. The deprival of freedom leads to social identity and moral degradation and can be used as a last resort action; 3) creating a flexible and extensive system of social assistance, including state, public, charitable and other structural units; 4) the moral reward and spiritual development of citizens on the principles of universal morality and spiritual values; 5) strict control over the flow of videos containing scenes of violence, cruelty and natural sex; 6) changing the mentality of people, especially multicultural people; 7) implementing training and retraining programs for those who are able to work with the “social bottom”: law enforcement officials; social educators, social psychologists, experts in narcology, social workers, and more. This is due to the fact that deviations such as alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness and aggressive behavior require adequate social assistance and need much attention to deal with. At the same time it is critical to implement prohibitive and repressive measures in relation to various criminal behaviors.

Hence, it is possible to present the following measures to assist persons in dealing with deviant behavior; 1) establishing the protective homes for temporary maintenance of those who are having family conflicts; 2) increasing the number of mutual aid societies and groups that can be helpful in getting rid of alcohol or drug dependence (“Alcoholics Anonymous”, “Narcotics Anonymous”, etc.); 3) establishing various organizations, social care services, rehabilitation services for persons stranded on the margins of society; 4) developing a network of non-governmental medical institutions on the main types of deviance profiles; 5) minimizing the practical opportunities to commit a crime (e.g., patrols, security agencies, street lighting); 6) providing assistance to victims of crimes (state aid, moral and financial support); 7) implementing adequate psychological assistance to criminals, which should include family counseling as well as various mechanisms of psychotherapy; and 8) providing a wide range of various “…alternatives such as probation, parole, home detention, electronic monitoring, community service, day reporting, and work or treatment programs” (Burton 121).


Thus, taking the above-mentioned information into consideration, it is important to draw a conclusion that all societies in world history have tried to eliminate the unwanted forms of human activity. From ancient times, many scientists, lawyers, doctors, teachers and psychologists have investigated different kinds of social pathology, such as prostitution, crime, alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide, and more. Therefore, non-compliance with social and moral standards can be viewed as social deviance. Deviant behavior, viewed as committing acts that contradict the norms of social behavior in one particular society, has become widespread in recent years. In particular, it applies to many multicultural countries, where there are large numbers of immigrants. The major causes of deviant behavior can include deviations in mental and physiological development; negative environmental factors of identity formation; deficiencies in the child’s upbringing; non-compliance of teaching conditions and methods with the child’s individual characteristics; and factors associated with multicultural behavior. It can occur when the individuals’ processes of socialization can be unsuccessful with respect to the certain well-defined standards, and thus, these failures affect the internal structure of the personality. When socialization processes are successful, the individual first adapts to the surrounding cultural norms, and then takes them so that the approved norms and values of society become his emotional needs, and cultural prohibitions become part of his own consciousness. In fact, deviant behavior can be considered to be one of the most important problems of any social community. Hence, it is important to take all the possible efforts to overcome this social pathology. The measures that should be taken into account include the following steps: to establish the protective homes for temporary maintenance of individuals who have some family conflicts, to increase the number of mutual aid societies that can be helpful in getting rid of alcohol or drug dependence, to establish social care services and rehabilitation services for those who stranded on the margins of society, and to implement adequate psychological assistance to various criminals. All in all, only through the joint efforts of governmental and non-governmental establishments, it is possible to adequately deal with these social issues.


Works cited

Burton, C. Emory. Basic Sociology. Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2009.

Cheng, Jaonan. “The Effect Factor for Students’ Deviant Behavior.” The Journal of Human Resource and Adult Learning 8.2 (2012): 26-32.

Henslin, James M. Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. Edition, Publisher, Year of Publication?

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016.

[Accessed: October 27, 2021] (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
Available at:

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]
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