June 8, 2001
Permission granted to copy & distribute intact without change.
Collective notes and direct excerpts from the text Sociology, seventh edition by John J. Macionis, combined with personal commentary on the subject of Deviance as relative to Exopolitical discourse.
The existing division between the public and the national security state infrastructure on Contact which I have referred to numerous times as a contact control structure has evolved from a simple matter of those who know nothing and those who know something into a social-conflict paradigm which muddies the water as to what is known and who knows what, as well as contributes to a hostile public environment in which communicators are placed at heightened risk for social injury and destructive outcomes in communicative efforts. These notes are an opportunity for both the public and insiders to consider how culture, natural behavioral tendencies, and previous behavioral choices has complicated an already difficult communication environment.
Deviance is the recognized violation of cultural norms. Norms guide virtually all human activities, so the concept of deviance covers a correspondingly broad spectrum. Not all deviance involves action or even choice. The simple existence of some categories of individuals can be troublesome to others.
The long-standing policies withholding a publicly perceived non-terrestrial interaction effort has given rise to a deviance behavior that resulted in creation of a sprawling community comprised of people from around the world who's cultural norms now include the concept of Contact or the possibility of Contact. The social-conflict paradigm involved is defined as a struggle over the power to define conformity and nonconformity, freedom of human choice, moral boundaries, how society defines social deviance, and who's definition of deviance will be the long-standing one. This conflict is specified as occuring between the public and the vaguely defined Contact Control Structure (CCS).
Most examples of nonconformity that come readily to mind are negative instances of rule breaking, but we also define especially righteous people, students who speak up too much in class, or people who are overly enthusiastic about new technologies as deviant, even if we accord them a measure of respect. What deviant actions or attitudes have in common is some element of difference that causes us to regard another person as an “outsider”.
There is dispute between factions of the aware community within the public, defined as ufology & exopolitics, and the insiders of the CCS as to who is defined as an "outsider", and as to who is an example of nonconformity.
Members of society try to influence each other’s behavior through various kinds of social control. Much of the time this process is informal. Deviance is much more than a matter of individual choice or personal failing. How a society defines deviance, whom individuals brand as deviant, and what people decide to do about nonconformity are all issues of social organization.
Surface society's attempts at influencing the behavior of those within the CCS through nominative social control methods has historically had severely destructive consequences prior to either side really gleaning understanding of each other or even of what each side is knowledgeable about or what each is capable of knowing.
Although we tend to view deviance in terms of the free choice or personal failings of individuals, all behavior – deviance or conformity – is shaped by society. Three social foundations of deviance are identified:
1. Deviance varies according to cultural norms. No thought or action is inherently deviant; it becomes deviant only in relation to particular norms.
2. People become deviant as others define them that way. Everyone violates social norms regularly, occasionally to the extent of breaking the law. Whether such activities are sufficient to define us as mentally ill or criminal depends on how others perceive, define, and respond to our behavior.
3. Both rule making and rule breaking involve social power. The law, claimed Karl Marx, amounts to little more than the means by which powerful people protect their interests. In short norms and how we apply them are linked to social inequality.
The structural-functional paradigm focuses on how deviance contributes to the operation society.
In his pioneering study of deviance, Emile Durkheim made the astonishing statement that there is nothing abnormal about deviance; in fact, it contributes to the operation of society in four ways:
1. Deviance affirms cultural values and norms. Living demands that we make moral choices. To prevent our culture from dissolving into chaos people must show preference for some attitudes and behaviors over others. But any conception of virtue rests upon an opposing notion of vice. And just as there can be no good without evil, there can be no justice without crime. Deviance in short, is indispensable to creating and sustaining morality.
2. Responding to deviance clarifies moral boundaries. By defining some individuals as deviant, people draw a social boundary between right and wrong.
3. Responding to deviance promotes social unity. People typically react to serous deviance with collective outrage. This Durkheim explained, reaffirms the moral ties that bind them.
4. Deviance encourages social change. Deviant people Durkheim claimed, push a society’s moral boundaries, pointing out alternatives to the status quo and encouraging change. Moreover he declared, today’s deviance can become tomorrow’s morality.
Imagine a society of saints, a perfect cloister of exemplary individuals. Crimes, properly so called, will there be unknown; but faults which appear [insignificant] to the layman will create there the same scandal that the ordinary offense does in ordinary consciousness…For the same reason, the perfect and upright man judges his smallest failings with a severity that the majority reserve for acts more truly in the nature of an offense. (1964)
Deviance then is not a matter of having a few “bad apples” around; it is a necessary condition of “good” social living. If deviance is universal, the kind of deviance people generate depends on the moral issues they seek to clarify. It answers questions about how much dissent to allow and what goals should be by celebrating some of their members while condemning others as deviant. Social scientist, Erikson discovered that even though the offenses change (over time), the proportion of deviant (people) remained steady over time. This stability, concludes Erikson, confirms Durkheim’s contention that deviants serve as ethical markers, outlining a society’s changing moral boundaries.
A failure on both sides of the proverbial fence (public & CCS) to understand how and why they have habitually made certain choices, results in further division and solidification of sentiments involving resentment and open hostility. This lack of mutual understanding withdraws freedom of choice in how to proceed for both groups. Inserting understanding allows introspection and the opportunity for reconsideration of potentially destructive future choices and behaviors.
Some deviance may be necessary for a society to function, but Robert Merton argues that excessive violations arise from particular social arrangements. Specifically the scope and character of deviance depends on how well a society provides the institutionalized means to achieve cultural goals.
Conformity, Merton begins, lies in pursuing conventional goals through approved means. Some people use unconventional means – deviance innovation – to achieve a culturally approved goal. According to Merton, the “strain” between our culture’s emphasis on [wealth and] limited opportunity, gives rise to unconventional behavior, illegal or destructive behavior, and street hustling. Minorities who find the doors to “legitimate” success [goals] all but closed, blaze their own trail to the top.
The inability to become successful by normative means may also lead to another type of deviance that Merton calls ritualism. Ritualists resolve the strain of limited success by abandoning cultural goals in favor of almost compulsive efforts to live “respectably”. In essence, they espouse the rules to the point that they lose sight of their larger goals. Low-level bureaucrats, for example, often succumb to ritualism as a way of gaining respectability.
A third response to the inability to succeed is retreatism – the rejection of both cultural goals and means, so that one, in effect, “drops out.” Retreatists include some alcoholics, and drug addicts, and some of the street people found in U.S. cities. The deviance of retreatists lies in unconventional living and, perhaps more seriously, in choosing to live that way.
The fourth response to failure is rebellion. Like retreatists, rebels reject both the cultural definition of success and the normative means of achieving it. Rebels however, go one step further by advocating radical alternatives to the existing social order.
The very existence of the street hustling, ufology & exopolitics community denotes a human choice toward placing greater value on Truth and movement toward integration of Earth within a greater community than the prior preferences of human safety and security still promoted by the leadership infrastructure. It should be noted that the amount of pressure from this human social faction routinely elicits the response defined above as retreatism, due to malicious misunderstanding and ignorance with regards to the umbrella power structure and its ability to control information and individuals. Actions have very real social consequences and a conflict exists when one or both groups routinely exceed perceived moral behavioral boundaries which may differ between groups.
The central contribution of symbolic-interaction analysis is labeling theory, the assertion that deviance and conformity result, not only from what people do, but from how others respond to those actions. Labeling theory stresses the relativity of deviance, arguing that all reality is socially constructed so that the same behavior may be defined in any number of ways. Howard S. Becker claims that deviance is therefore nothing more than “behavior that people so label”. Given that “reality” is relative to time and place, it is no surprise that one society’s conventions may be another’s deviance.
The response to initial deviance can set in motion secondary deviance, by which an individual repeatedly violates a norm and begins to take on a deviant identity. The development of secondary deviance is another example of the Thomas theorem which states that “Situations we define as real become real in their consequences. ”
Secondary deviance also marks the emergence of what Erving Goffman calls a deviant career: As individuals develop a stronger commitment to deviant behavior, they typically acquire a stigma, a powerful negative social label that radically changes a person’s self-concept and social identity.
Stigma operates as a master status overpowering other aspects of social identity so that an individual is diminished in the minds of others and consequently, becomes socially isolated. Sometimes an entire community formally stigmatizes an individual through what Harold Garfinkel calls a degradation ceremony. A criminal prosecution is one example of this, operating much like a college award ceremony except that people stood before the community to be labeled in a negative rather than a positive way.
Once people stigmatize an individual they may engage in retrospective labeling. This is the interpretation of someone’s past consistent with present deviance. Retrospective labeling distorts a person’s biography by being selective and prejudicial, guided more by the present stigma than by any attempt to be fair. It also helps to deepen the person’s deviant identity.
Similarly, people may engage in projective labeling of a stigmatized person. That is, others keep an individuals deviant identity in mind when assessing any future action. The result, of course is that people find evidence of deviance in almost anything a stigmatized individual does.
All the various symbolic-interaction theories see deviance as a process. Labeling theory links deviance not to action but to the reaction of others. Thus some people come to be defined as deviant while others who think or behave in the same way are not.
The public and the CCS can be defined as independent social groups with extremely limited contact. Each have their own rules and boundaries which cannot or will not be crossed. It would be useful for the purposes of successful bridging if there were incorporated intervention between the two groups by those well versed in cultural anthropology as part of the mediation process. But as yet the classical intellectual community does not yet extend its boundaries toward or into the frontiers of observation, awareness, and social infrastructure without the confining biases and intellectual habits which instigated both the secrecy and the secondary deviance. The hostile atmosphere stemming from inequalities by and between both groups remains problematic.
The social-conflict paradigm demonstrates how deviance reflects social inequality. This approach holds that who or what is labeled “deviant” depends on which categories of people hold power in society.
Social-conflict theory links deviance to power in three ways.
1. First the norms – especially laws – of any society generally reflect the interests of the rich and powerful.
2. even if their behavior is called into question the powerful have the resources to resist deviant labels.
3. Third, the widespread belief that norms and laws are natural and good masks their political character. For this reason we may condemn the unequal application of the law but give little thought to whether the laws themselves are inherently fair.
What is considered deviant in society has much to do with the relative power and privilege of different categories of people. Historical limitations of portions of our society applies stringent normative controls. Groups within society have been socialized to define success and power in specific terms. And because society [class structure] puts certain individuals [classes] in positions of power over others these powered classes often escape direct responsibility for actions that victimize the non-powered classes.
Source: Compass Morainn Journal http://compassmorainn.blogspot.com/2011/06/deviance-study-notes-as-relative-to.html