Although the study of deviance has often focused on the lower classes, deviance is a phenomenon which transcends class boundaries. This article will focus on two common transgressive practices amongst middle and upper class youths, graffiti and cannabis consumption, in order to assess the role of deviance in cases where it only marginally affects school life. These minor transgressions never put into question the fundamental order of the school environment, nor do they threaten a student’s path to graduation. However, the importance of these minor transgressions lies in how they affect the relationships between students. Transgressive behaviours help to shape peer hierarchies, in return peer hierarchies normalise and integrate transgressive behaviours. Middle-class high school students only value transgressive practices when they are undertaken within limits. There is a time to transgress and there is a time to conform. As graduation approaches however, the importance of academic ability reasserts itself, setting apart those who are capable of engaging in transgressive practices whilst maintaining a high level of academic performance and those who are not.
- Peer groups
- social classes