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Cognitive Deviance Chapter Summary.doc

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University of Guelph
SOC 2070
Norman Dubeski

Cognitive Deviance: Unconventional Beliefs - atheism is deviant because in the US, year after year, polls indicate that over 80% of the population believes in God. - 2007 Gallup Poll asked whether they would consider voting for a Catholic presidential candidate, 95% of Americans said yes; for an African American, 94%; for Jew, 92%; for a woman, 88%; for a Mormon, 72%; for someone married 3 times, 67% and for a homosexual, 55% - in this poll, only 45% said they would consider voting for an atheist - in other words, more than half of the American public feels that atheism is so deviant that it disqualifies a candidate to be president of the United States because not believing in God is unpatriotic and one would conclude, deviant. - In the past 20 years according to the American Religious Identification survey, the number of atheists has more than tripled- from 1 million in 1990 to 3.6 million in 2009 ..... - Cognitive deviance often reveals cultural differences - Cognitive or “intellectual” deviance often generates enormous hostility and punitive official reaction - Polls indicate that about 6 percent of the American population believes that the moon landings never happened - Cognitive or intellectual deviance is the expression of beliefs that are contrary to the views of specific audience - such expressions are deviant in context - the expression of some beliefs are hostile to established interest, the ruling elite, and the regime in power - some are hostile to the views of the majority of the public - some are hostile towards those of particular sectors or social circles within the society - you can be arrested for expressing a belief, not in society at this time, but in past centuries - informal reactions to definitions of right and wrong define what’s deviant; there is no doubt that expressing certain ideas is deviant - Cognitive deviance refers to holding beliefs that are unconventional and non normative, which, in some social circles, causes their believers to be shunned, isolated, marginalized, rendered powerless, criticized, condemned, or punished - it is the expression of beliefs that gets the believer in trouble. The belief has to be known to disapproving audiences. - central analytic features of deviance = what makes something deviant - deviant beliefs are identical in all basic respects to deviant acts - someone, or a category of persons, is regarded by the members of one or more audiences as violating a rule or norm, and the members of those audiences are likely to condemn or punish them - holding unconventional beliefs is no different from engaging in unconventional behavior. Both result in stigma and condemnation - often unacceptable beliefs translate into or become a basis for unacceptable behavior - many cognitive belief systems are not deviant merely because they violate mainstream notions of what’s true. Their proponents are also regarded as deviants because of the behavior those beliefs could potentially call forth. - Cognitive deviance overlaps with mental disorders - psychiatrists and clinical psychologists regard the expression of certain beliefs as a manifestation or an indicator of a pathological psychic condition - schizophrenics are known to suffer from delusions and hallucinations - often, people diagnosed as having a mental disorder often hold deviant beliefs - schizophrenia is nearly always accompanied by a number of other disturbances in addition to cognitive delusions and hallucinations. Some of these include flat or inappropriate emotions, bizarre motors activity, and the use of jumbled words and thoughts - Clinical depression is marked by inappropriate beliefs, but in addition, it is a mood disorder characterized by feelings of sadness, dread, apprehension, worthlessness, guilt and anhedonia, or an inability to take pleasure in life - In contrast, by itself, cognitive deviance or the holding of unconventional beliefs, is not necessarily linked with any psychiatric disorder - Mental disorder and cognitive deviance are empirically related but definitionally separate and distinct. In other words, while mental health professionals would classify many cognitive deviants as mentally disordered, and many of the persons they classify as mentally disordered would also be regarded as cognitive deviants, neither category demands or necessitates the other - belief is objectively deviant - A belief is deviant in 2 ways- one, normatively and two, reactively - because it violates the tenets of the dominant belief system, or a different system and two, because its adherents are likely to be condemned or punished by the members of the society at large - A belief is both deviant because it is considered wrong and its believers are treated as socially unacceptable - Many ideas are regarded as heretical, therefore deviant, at one point in time - 1633 the Catholic Inquisition imposed house arrest in Galileo because he argued that the earth revolved around the sun - Deviance makes sense only with reference to both beliefs and reactions of certain audiences. - beliefs that are regarded as wrong, unacceptable, and deviant in one social circle may be considered right, good, proper, and true in another. - some beliefs are more dominant than others - holding a certain belief is a criterion among a majority of the electorate to vote for a given political candidate, it is a dominant belief. - To the extent that a substantial segment of the electorate refuses to vote for a political candidate because he or she is known to hold a certain view, the view is deviant - to the extent that a given belief is taken for granted as true in the mainstream media, it is dominant. The Social Functions of Belief Systems - sociologists attempt to understand the social conditions that generate or encourage them. (Berger and Luckmann) - The basic insight of sociology is that beliefs serve social functions that transcend their uniqueness and their empirical validity or truth value - for thousands of years, many observers of social reality have commented on the relationship between the ideational world - the world of thoughts, beliefs, and ideas- and the material world, such as what people do for a living, where they live and what social category they belong to - the central idea to these writings spring from social conditions, they serve social functions, and they have social consequences - The first and more or less universally accepted sociological principle of beliefs is that they arise through social interaction with others. - In short, human consciousness is determined by social existence. Karl Marx - life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life (economic life) - it is the nature of the economy that determines the nature of a society’s art, politics, religion, science and system of juice - Max Weber - wrote of the elective affinity people have for certain ideas and beliefs - Religion for rich to assure status - for poor, offer salvation of compensation (whether next world exists or not) - Weber sees more diversity in the ideas of the many social classes in the society than did Marx who pictured only 2 classes - ideas and beliefs may serve more functions aside from economic interest - in other words, unlike Marx, Max Weber saw a two way street between the ideation al world (the world of beliefs and ideas) and the material conditions of people’s lives. People are attracted to beliefs because they are compatible with the way they live. But the way they live is much more than economic circumstances alone. - ideas and beliefs in turn can act back on material conditions Religious Sects and Cults - “ecumenical” denomination or church: promotes cooperation and mutual tolerance among all churches and denominations. (ex. congregational, presbyterian, methodist, Lutheran, catholics of today - only 30% of episcopal churches attended weekly; but 50% baptists, 66%
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