Primary deviance is considered to be an individual’s behavior that deviates from the cultural norms accepted in his society. If it is primary, an act of deviance made by the individual is insignificant, meaning that he is not regarded by others as a deviant person and does not consider himself as such.


Social deviance is a behavior that differs from the socially acceptable norms of a particular society. There are various types of deviant behavior, including negative and positive, formal and informal, primary and secondary deviance.

Primary deviance is the deviant behavior of an individual that has minor consequences for the individual’s status. Primary deviance occurs when a violation of social rules and norms is still considered acceptable on some levels, and does not entail punishment.

Each member of society has probably committed minor violations of social norms during his or her life. An act of primary deviance is usually nonviolent and infrequent. Furthermore, it is not always noticed and judged by society.

Sometimes it is perceived as a prank that can be considered eccentric behavior. For example, a man might eat meat with his hands in a restaurant, while other people normally eat with a fork and a knife.

Moreover, people often perform acts of primary deviance because of their desire for expressing themselves outside of the framework of their society’s normative behavior. For example, someone might decide to become a vegan because he does not want to cause harm to the environment and animals. However, since he lives in a society in which everyone else eats animal products, he could be misunderstood and judged by his peers.

Occasionally, primary deviance can be negative, even if it goes unnoticed by society. For example, a teenager might smoke a cigarette with marijuana, or a driver could violate a traffic rule. If undetected, this behavior remains a primary deviance. However, if the authorities catch them, or other people find out about the events, then they become acts of secondary deviance.