Society has created a set of behavioral standards. Anyone outside of these norms is considered to be abnormal or deviant. While the types of deviance can vary, the negative consequences of these behaviors include some form of prejudice and social ostracism. In certain cases, deviant behavior is criminal, resulting in legal ramifications.
Social deviance is any behavior that differs from the social norms set by society. For example, people who dress differently are often seen as deviant by the media or general public. Being goth, for instance, can have negative effects. The media socially stigmatizes subcultures and portrays them in an undesirable manner. In turn, the public follows suit. Social deviance is not illegal, but the ostracism that these groups experience can often make them seem like outcasts or criminals.
Much like looking differently results in stigma, unconventional sexual practices are also regarded with disdain. Homosexuality is a classic example of preferences that are considered deviant. The negative results are stereotypes and labels, such as "queer." Additionally, society may convince gays and lesbians that they are intrinsically bad, which can result in reckless sexual behavior or low self-esteem. Although society has become much more open and tolerant, many people still treat homosexuality as a disorder or a disease. Pedophilia is another, more serious form of sexual deviance. Unlike homosexuality, this behavior can have serious consequences. Aside from the legal implications, the victims of sexual abuse can suffer psychologically, becoming more prone to things like suicide.
Legal deviance is behavior that does not conform to the laws set by society. Unlike social or sexual deviance, there are always serious consequences. Obviously, breaking the law can often result in incarceration. The negative effects extend to all of society as well. If a person commits murder or robbery, there are financial and emotional consequences for the victims. Additionally, criminals can suffer permanent consequences, since employers are not eager to hire convicted felons.
It is common knowledge that religion is an important part of American society. Mainstream Muslims and Christians, for example, can practice their beliefs without any problems. However, when taken to the extreme, deviant fringe groups can have a profoundly negative effect. A recent example is Christian pastor Harold Camping's prediction of the end of the world on May 21, 2011. In the months leading to his failed prophesy, Camping received donations from devoted followers who are facing possible economic ruin, disillusionment and depression.