Sunday, September 10, 2006

What is deviance?

From Threatening Anthropology

“Steven Spitzer recognised that a social notion of deviance ‘emerges from and reflects the ongoing development of economic forces (of the infrastructure)’ and that superstructure functions to manage and regulate members of society, particularly “problem populations”. One of the strengths of Spitzer’s theory is that by focusing on general principles rather than specific acts, we can account for cross-cultural instances of deviance. Spitzer theorised that actions and beliefs supporting a society’s mode of production are construed as nondeviant, while those that threaten the development and free functioning of its economic sector become deviants. Thus, in an economy that is dominated by productive forces requiring intense focus in a demanding, high-stress environment, drugs (e.g., coffee, cigarettes) that help employees focus on the labour requirements of a demanding workplace will be selected for, as well as those (e.g., LSD, marijuana) that foster responses of hyperindividualism or apathy will be deemed deviant. Likewise, in a society based on intense ethnic, gender, economic, and racial segregation, individuals who advocate the abolition of such systems of stratification will also be seen as deviant.”

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