Pre-Scientific Explanations to Deviance
This Lecture will cover:
1) Myths, Parables, and Stories about Deviance
2) Trickster Legends and Contemporary Legends
3) Demonic Perspective: First Casual Explanations of Deviance
4) Witch Craze: A model for Moral Panics
5) Moral Panics: Holocaust, Red Scare, Satanic Child Abuse Scares
6) Satanism: as a Moral Panic, Role-Playing, and Metaphor
“The Devil Made me Do it!”
Prior to the Enlightenment, deviance was thought of as both causal and
supernatural. (Pre 1700s)
People understood life and reality (including deviance) in terms of myths,
parables and stories….
They explained experiences and often were created to help people conform… in
terms of social control, regulation and the consequences of non-conformity (we
still often use these stories to raise our children)
Many stories during this time were geared to children. Teaching children about
the consequences of deviant behavior.
Slovenly Peter: Translated from German by Mark Twain
Konrad the Thumb sucker – suck your thumb and it will get cut off.
(These stories are considered too harsh for children today)
The Boy who cried wolf – Don't be a liar something bad will happen
Little Red Riding Hood – Don't talk to strangers. (Modern story) Original story
was about sexual assault according to the professor.
Pinocchio- don't lie
The Emperors New Clothes – Story about vanity and public humiliation
All of these stories told children “If you deviate bad things are going to happen to you”.
The Trickster Legend
CommonArchetype in folklore and mythology
Often a comedic figure who breaks rules to achieve his or her own ends (However
Still very common in modern culture/ media/ entertainment
Varies in conception.
Bugs bunny- Harmless Practical Joker
Robin Hood – deviant in the name of greater good Joker Batman – Malicious deviant
most prominent trickster:Anansi (spider) or Papa Legba (Guardian of cross roads: access
to the spirit world)
The trickster embodies the paradox of deviance. They show both the appeal and the
repercussions of deviance.
- Differ from legends of the past in that they claim to be based on fact rather than
fiction of fantasy.
- These legends although highly believable are based on hearsay rather than fact.
Some of them are horror stories reflecting urban fears (Stolen kidneys,
hypodermic needles in phone booths or theatre seats)which often come from a
desire for more social order. Or some like the trickster tales are stories with a
humorous slightly ambiguous moral twist.
The Proctor and Gamble logo
It was on shampoo, soup etc – associated with Satanism – People claimed that the
number of stars in the logo and the backward 666 in the beard was proof that the
company was associated with the church of Satan. The claims made about the logo
resulted in loss of sales and the company sued a bunch of people. Eventually they
changed their logo.
Early Explanations of Deviance: The Demonic Perspective
⁃ The Earliest recorded attempts to explain rather than describe the nature of
⁃ Deviance was explained rather than described as being caused by supernatural forces.
No one looked and physiology, medical environmental or natural reasons for “bad”
things. No such thing as a coincidence. Think of miscarriages, failed crops, illness.
The Devil caused these things. Dualistic way of looking at the world good vs evil.
Huge impact on the study of deviance until 1970s. ⁃ The Pagan as deviant. Dominant religions have done their best in the past to discredit
other religions... turning their gods and rituals into demonic entities and practices.
(Movie the burning times)
⁃ Pantheistic worldview - the doctrine that regard