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5 - Social Constructionist Theories.odt

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Sociology 2259

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Social Constructionist Theories of Deviance Interpretive Theories of Deviance • Deviance emerges from the societal response to a behaviour/characteristic • Deviance is socially constructed, doesn't exist independently of us as humans • Abortion is an example • Symbolic interactionists examine WHY the “deviant” label has been applied to certain behaviours/characteristics, and the consequences of such • Strain/social control theories: ◦ Deviance --> control ▪ Someone engaging in deviance and then society comes in to controls the behaviour • Interpretive theories: ◦ Control --> deviance ▪ Looks at society trying to control deviance before it happens • Focus is on societal response on deviance • Based on symbolic interaction theory—micro approach • Doesn't focus on the actual act, just the labelling • Definitions of self are learned through interactions with others and interpreting their messages (use of symbols) • Labels applied by others can come to define one's entire sense of self and can cause permanent harm The Social Construction of Deviance Via Labels • The meaning of deviance derives NOT from the act a person commits, but rather from society's LABELLING of an act as deviant • Labelling: ◦ Imposing a definition on a person, characteristic, behaviour ◦ The process through which they come to see themselves as indistinguishable from the label • Labels tell us what to expect and we believe that the label is true Mirror Image • Cooley - “Looking-Glass Self” : we look at ourselves based on how others perceive us • Our sense of self has 3 elements: ◦ We imagine how we appear to others ◦ We imagine how others evaluate and judge us ◦ We create our sense of self by responding to that imagined (perceived) judgement The “Thomas Theorem” • W.I. Thomas: “What we define as real, is real in its consequences” • What we define as deviance becomes real • Self-fulfilling prophecy • In order to understand an action, we must understand the actor's DEFINITION of the situation • Actors negotiate their definitions of the situation Flexivity • George Herbert Mead: We think reflexively—take into account what others are thinking and feeling • Our sense of self arises from social interaction—its a reflexive relationship • We don't get a sense of self doesn't come from just ourselves • The more closely connected we are to someone, the more their opinions (of us) affect us • Development of “self” ◦ “I” is active and initiates action—our own spontaneous self/though that just come from you ◦ “Me” is responsive and is the stemmed from the expectations and attitudes of society—a moral conscience • 3 stage process ◦ Imitation—when people learn to respond to gestures and imitate ◦ Play—we become more conscious of rules of society, know what is and is not deviant ◦ Game—we fully internalize the roles of other people and the rules of society ◦ *If you don't go through all three of these stages you are more likely to commit a deviant act because you won't know you're doing anything wrong • Final result = “Generalized other” ◦ Falls under the game stage ◦ When we can fully understand the attitudes of society ◦ Generalized other mean society Process of Defining Deviance • Role Taking: we place ourselves in the roles of others to determine what they think about us (behaviours, characteristics, etc.) • Looking-Glass Self: we imagine what other people think of us, which in turn influences our self-image • Significant Others' opinions are important to us, and influence our opinions of ourselves • Generalized Other: abstract notion of societal views—“what would people say if I did...” • **These contribute to out perceptions of what's “deviant” and “normal” Labelling Theory (Becker) • Also called “social reaction theory” • Deviance created through the idea of rules • Social groups create deviance by making rules whose infraction constitutes deviance • Deviance is not a quality of the act, but a consequence of the application by others of rules and sanctions to an offender • Those labelled as deviant are subsequently labelled and treated as “outsiders” • Deviants/outsiders aren't a homogeneous group • Labelling theory examines: ◦ The PROCESS through which they're defined as deviant ◦ Reactions to the label • Deviance = application of successful labelling ◦ When the individual who is labelled as deviant believes they are and that society then believes they are deviant • Social groups create deviance by making rules ◦ **Moral entrepreneurs (ex. Police) play a major role in labelling deviance • Responses to deviant labels will vary: ◦ Overtime ◦ Based on the “offender” vs. The “offended” • If no one is around to label something as deviant, there is no social reaction • Consequences of labelling: ◦ Affect how others treat you ◦ Limit opportunities for conforming behaviour ▪ May think it doesn't matter to engage in conforming behaviour if everyone thinks you are deviant ◦ May increase commitment to deviance ◦ Agents of social control may maintain and amplify criminal behaviours ▪ ex. get arrested for something may increase likelihood for engaging in that behaviour again • **Bottom line”: negative labelling stigmatizes Primary and Secondary Deviance (Lemert) • Primary Deviance: and “act” ◦ Impulsive, transitory behaviours ◦ Occasional acts of deviance ◦ Don't develop a deviant lifestyle ◦ Commonplace ◦ Mostly hidden, denied, and rationalized ◦ Those not caught go on to conventional lifestyles • Secondary Deviance: a “deviant” identity ◦ Develop a deviant status/lifestyle ◦ Planned, organized behaviours ◦ Affects lifestyle, life choices and associates ◦ Involves only a small number of people ◦ Only when you have been caught committing a deviant act and a label is applied ◦ **Process of action --> societal reaction --> self-identity (me)** • Results in DevianceAmplification Dramatization of Evil (Tannenbaum) • When an individual is caught engaging in deviance, tagging occurs ◦ Tagging: attaching a deviant label ◦ We tag someone a label and soon we generalize that label to the entire person ◦ The individual develops a negative self-image and starts to see themselves as deviant ◦ People basically make a huge drama about the deviant label a person did/does • Process: ◦ Tagged—society tags you as deviant ◦ Defined—now defined as a deviant ◦ Identified—people now identify the person as deviant ◦ Segregated—they are outside our society of normals ◦ Described—entire sense of self becomes described as deviant ◦ Emphasized—continually being emphasized as being deviant ◦ Made conscious—start to define yourself only as deviant and not normal in any respect • Dramatization of evil: Tag is first attached to the act, but eventually is generalized to the person as a whole ◦ label is attached to an act and it comes to define the person (ex. Saugeen stripper) Master Status (Goiffman and Becker) • Master status: an attribute (real or imagined) by which others identify you ◦ Controlling identifier through which people see you as and how they describe you ◦ Produces a self-fulfilling prophecy people see you in a certain way, you internalize it and then see yourself in that same way • Overshadows other attributes, traits, etc, in that they become subordinate statuses ◦ Cut off from other roles • Ex. thief, troublemaker, drug addict, loser, etc. • Results in a process of exclusion from the conventional world and acceptance into the “deviant: world • People will see you differently based on how they see you and interact with you • Effect of labelling: “once a...always a...” Dramaturgy and Stigmatization (Goffman) • Stigmatization: process of exclusion through which an individual labelled as deviant becomes an “outsider” • Stigma: a deviant label applied to an individual by society • Dramaturgical approach: life is a stage, where our performanc
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