John's Deviant Assignment

Deviance is defined as the violation of norms that a society agrees upon. This is someone acting or behaving in an abnormal way that others would not consider “normal”. Breaking of norms happens in today’s society every day, whether it’s purposeful like people expressing themselves or accidental. The deviant act that I was involved in was a car accident.

The accident happened around 7:45am on Tuesday, June 7, 2011. This occurrence was located at the intersection of 127th street and Pulaski Avenue. It all happened when I was driving with my co-worker Joe Gallagher to our first set up of the day for Dino Jump. We had six jumps to set up that morning so we loaded up the trailer with all of the equipment. When we were within minutes of reaching our destination in Blue Island, a Chevrolet Venture minivan slams on the breaks right as the stoplight just turned yellow. Without hesitation, I quickly slam on the breaks but knew that the weight of the trailer would send me skidding into the rear end of the minivan. The deviant act was breaking society’s norms of getting in another “reckless teenage” car crash. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, accounting for more than one in three deaths in this age group. In 2009, eight teens, ages sixteen to nineteen died every day from motor vehicle injuries. Per mile driven, teen drivers ages sixteen to nineteen are four times more likely than older drivers to crash.

After pulling over, I quickly got out of the company vehicle to observe the situation. The first reaction I studied was Joe’s while we were slowly sliding downhill. He was nervous and also bracing himself, and after he was in awe about the whole situation. Secondly, I observed the elderly middle class man who was in the minivan. He was very angry and upset because not only was the rear end of the older car smashed but he knew if he went through the yellow light this would have all been avoided. However, he wasn’t too upset because he decided not to get the police involved. Shortly afterward, I studied the reactions of other witnesses. Some people ignored the situation while opposing traffic slowed down to look and watch us as they passed by. The traffic behind us had a different reaction. They were angry and confused; a semi-truck driver honked his horn because of the minor traffic jam we were causing. I noticed that while everyone else was looking at us, we were considered to be the out-group but to the three of us, the triad, we were the in-group. I was in disgust at my first ever car accident but also in shock. After seeing society’s responses to my action I was also embarrassed. The gentleman was most likely an immigrant as he could barely speak English let alone his strong accent but still we exchanged information and we both continued by heading to work. In addition, due to George Herbert Meads’ symbolic interactionsm, I was able to see the conflict theory and use research methods to successfully study the nonverbal communication of everyone either through hand gestures, body language, or facial expressions. For example, I was able to tell Joe’s reaction the way he closed his eyes and braced himself in the car. I was able to tell bystander’s reactions by the rolling of eyes, honking of vehicles, or upset facial expressions and their acts of shaming. And for the elderly foreigner, I was able to tell his reaction by the tone of his voice and hand gestures.

In conclusion, the deviant act that I participated in was an early morning car accident. The estimated grand total of the damage cost is approximately 1,700 dollars. As the role of the person at fault, I am personally held responsible for the damages to the vehicle but luckily no court, traffic school, or fine fees. Who knew a Sociology assignment would teach me a life lesson.

Carl, J. D. (2010). Think: Sociology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
(2010). Injury Prevention & Control: Motor Vehicle Safety. Centers For Disease Control and
Prevention. Retrieved from