Synergies in Deviance

BD West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


This article revisits the debate surrounding the concept of positive deviance, arguing that the term is strategic for understanding the mythological, narrative and sacred dimensions of deviant social phenomena. Studies of deviance have generally only thought of it in relation to negatively amplified reactions. This paper asserts that these deviant forms exist in synergy with types containing ‘positive’ characteristics. Drawing on the work of the classical sociologists Emile Durkheim, Georg Simmel and Max Weber, it is argued that positive deviance can be thought to emerge as a consequence of the existence of enchantment, symbolic interaction and charisma in society. Under these conditions the distinctions between the pure and impure can become elusive.
Translated title of the contributionSynergies in Deviance
Original languageEnglish
JournalElectronic Journal of Sociology
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2003

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