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Lecture - Dead Heads

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SOC 1100
Linda Gerber

Deviance and the “Dead Heads” Without social groups and social organization, there can be no norms and hence no deviance. Deviance, by its very nature, implies groups and a social context. What is deviance and how do you recognize it in the world around you? It can be seen in any group, however small, and ranges from actions that might elicit raised eyebrows to violence and organized crime. Some crime takes place within an organizational context (e.g. white collar crime or violent crime in hockey.) What does it mean to say that one finds deviance in every social setting and that deviance has positive functions for society? From the perspective of mainstream society, “Dead Heads” (fans and followers of the Grateful Dead) are deviants. If you watch the video with deviance in mind, you will notice that there is deviance (and, necessarily, social control) within Dead Head society itself. From another perspective, you can analyze Dead Head society in terms of “social groups” and organizations. You can see norms and values emerging through interaction within the groups and observe the creation of that all-important sense of belonging. There is also clear evidence of social organization and even formal organization in the lives of the Grateful Dead and its followers. There are also global networks involved. How would you describe the Dead Heads in terms of the concepts outlined and in Chapter 9? You might consider the applicability of structural-functional, social-conflict, and symbolic-interaction perspectives of the analysis of Dead Head society. Is there any one research method that you would expect to be most fruitful in coming to terms with Dead Heads? Calendar: This is a super film about the fans (literally followers) of the Grateful Dead. They have created a real community, with its own subculture, that moves from concert to concert with the band. Some of the analysis is done for you – not necessarily by sociologists – but that shouldn’t stop you from doing some of your own thinking about the film. Think about culture, subculture and counterculture – about social solidarity, social control, community, identity and self-image. Notes during the movie: - Emphasizes human creativity – we have created the world we live in by using our minds, and we can also change it (2 mins) - What separates deadheads from the mainstream, what are their social norms - Persistence of subculture o G.d. are attached to (?) check audio o Loyal to their fans, (let them do taping – to experience live concert when it ends until the next one); play different music every night; dead freaks unite – gave people an identity o Created symbols, dancing bears, scull and roses, tye-dies, (and another one) o (Cause people to keep in touch with one another, created a community) - parking lot community – they do anything in the community parking lot; they highly valued freedom, expect the unexpected; shopping mall set up in each parking lot – corporate vendors, non-deadheads vendors and deadhead vendors and then wandering subsistence vendors (supported themselves on tour) o camping living room furniture set up in parking lot; community might look different in every location but it was still community; o authority: heard a lot of bad stories (showering with garden hoses?); - freedom and order o law enforcement prevalent in parking lot enforcing society’s norms o skeleton crew discouraging sale of alcohol and others that are dangerous within their own society o forces of order vigilantiaism – deadheads correcting other deadheads 1987 album – people came in too quickly (before norm policies were put into place); uncontrolled mass of people came into their city - norms and values of the subculture o cooperative subculture (if you have something someone needs more than you do, obligation to share) o values individual freedom, responsibility for yourself o values – marijuana, LSD, nitrous oxide, ecstasy o police would come expecting violent crowd and would find compliant passive crowd o drug use in subculture – use of specific drugs affect subculture norms: nitrous vendors became less and less norm – subculture asked them to leave; - ticket to paradise o uncommon for a deadhead to be shut out of a show o pleasure in giving them a ticket, watching their enthusiastic response o sharing and cooperative society o concert is confirmation of a culture – opportunity to feel like you belong, sharing with equals, community, to come out of yourself, ecstatic and joyful or spiritual experience - GD don’t have a prearranged set, play what they feel like playing -
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