Wayward Puritans: A Study in the Sociology of Deviance

Publication Date: 
October 2004
Wiley, 1966, Prentice Hall; Revised edition 2004. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.


This book uses the Puritan settlement in 17th-century Massachusetts as a setting in which to examine several ideas about deviant behavior in society.

Combining sociology and history, Erikson draws on the records of the Bay Colony to illustrate the way in which deviant behavior fits in the texture of social life generally.

The main argument of Wayward Puritans is that deviant forms of behavior are often a valuable resource in society, providing a point of contrast which is necessary for the maintenance of a coherent social order.