It is the behaviour that is in accord with the expectations of a social group. It reflects acquiescence to the rules or social norms and is expressed in responses that are either similar to those of others or prescribed by group customs or norms. ‘Conformity may be defined as the endeavour to maintain a standard set by a group.
It is a voluntary imitation of prevalent modes of action, distinguished from rivalry and other aggressive phases of emulation by being comparatively passive, aiming to keep up rather than to excel, and concerning itself for the most part with what is outward and formal. C.H. Cooley in his book ‘Human Nature and the Social Order” holds that the term conformity usually denotes conformity to the norms and expectations current in the individual’s own membership group conformity to norms of an out group is thus equivalent to what is ordinarily called non-conformity, that is non-conformity to the norms of the in-group.
Deviance refers to behaviours that are defined by those in power as violations of societal norms. Some forms of deviance break codified law; other behaviours are defined as deviance because of the negative reactions of others.
The term deviance is preferred by sociologists over the term abnormal behaviour, because the abnormal behaviour signifies psychological illness rather than social maladjustment or conflict.
Deviance and conformity are present in all societies and are essential to the existence and smooth functioning of societies.
A form of social behaviour that, having persisted for a long period of time, is well established in a society is called custom. It has become traditional, and has received some degree of formal recognition.
The term custom is used by anthropologists at various levels of abstraction. Such as
(a) The routine acts of daily life
(b) The rules implicit in routine
(c) The cultural patterns discernible in repetitive acts
(d) The distinctive nature of the whole culture.
Law is a system of standardized norms, regulating human conduct, deliberately established for the purpose of social control. Laws are interpreted and enforced by formal public/ political authority, rather than by custom.