Creativity or Deviance?

Deviance is a variation of the norm, doing something different from what society expects.  When someone is deviant, they usually receive negative sanctions from society, ranging from a dirty look to a prison sentence.  Even if the deviance is positive, like a student who is extremely smart, it can be treated with a negative response; not being accepted into a group of friends or people being angry because they ruined the curve.

Creativity is the invention of a new idea or product.  But what happens when creativity and deviance overlap?  In my retail job, since I have been doing it for so long, I will often have “best practices” or ways of doing things that I have found work well, but differ from the way that the company wants things done.  In these situations, I have 2 choice; do it my way and know I will have success, or do it the company’s way with uncertain results.  There are possible ramifications to doing either.  If I do it my way and fail, I will get in trouble, maybe even fired.  If I do it the company’s way and fail, I may still get in trouble.  The results in this situation determine whether I have been creative or deviant.

The article below discusses a Japanese researcher who continued to do work on a project after the funding was removed.  He was successful in creating an LED and praised for his “creativity”.  But it could have gone the other way for him as well, if he had failed.  Society, in general, provides fewer sanctions for successful deviance than deviance that is unproductive or a failure.




7 thoughts on “Creativity or Deviance?

  1. I can see that if you don’t do something the way a boss wants it can be considered deviant. Going against their wishes for the way they want to run things is wrong in their eyes. When finding a “shortcut” that works for you may get the job done but it’s still not what they want. I remembering butting heads with my boss when I said my way was the right way but because she was “in charge” her way was the right way, yet the finished product looked the same. Before butting heads when I was getting a good finished product, now I can see where I was diviant in her eyes and I wasn’t even trying to be.

  2. I’m also in retail and understand where you are coming from. You find a way that is quick and can be successful but you mess up and it’s all on you. This can be considered deviant. Either way you do what you think is right or the company; you are gonna be the one that gets in trouble, there is no way around it.

  3. While at times we must be a deviant and go against what is expected of us, we know that both have the same expected outcome at work, and that is to be successful with the end result. There are times that I am a deviant and take risks, and there are times I listen to my boss’s suggestions and take bigger risks because he does not have knowledge of my field.

  4. This is interesting because I feel as though when I want to be creative or “step outside the box” at work I am made to feel deviant. I guess when we try to be creative and expand our interest or knowledge of something that does not fall into our bosses goals we may be considered deviant. This can hold us back from reaching our own goals. Social norms are one thing but corporate norms are another, I think we should all be able to be free to spread our wings and be all we can be and being creative does not necessarily mean we are being deviant.

  5. If you were to take your work goals and make them into society rules, would your behavior be that of a rebellion because you are rejecting both cultural goals and the means and to create new goals? Or would you be a retreatist, where you reject both goals and legitimate means to them by not doing what processes your company has to sell their products their way? Or maybe you would be having ritualism behavior by rejecting societies goals but going thru the motions without caring about the goals?

  6. Stepping outside of the norm can be risky. In your example of the Japaneese researcher, he succeeded so he receieved less critizism. People saw it as a good thing. If he had failed, people probably would of seen it as a bad thing, and it would of been an example of why people should not difer from the norms.

  7. There can be a fine line between creativity and deviance. Employers want on one hand to see you able to work on your own and to see fresh new ideas. Yet they can sometimes be so stuck in their idea of how to do things that at the same time as wanting to see creativity they do not encourage you to step out and try something new.

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