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Deviant Bodies. 11/17/08. What happens when bodies deviate from the norm?. definitions of deviance functionalism and conflict theory spoiler: more questions than answers. Statistical definition of deviance. Frequent=“normal” Rare=“deviant”.

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what happens when bodies deviate from the norm
What happens when bodies deviate from the norm?
  • definitions of deviance
  • functionalism and conflict theory

spoiler: more questions than answers

statistical definition of deviance
Statistical definition of deviance
  • Frequent=“normal”
  • Rare=“deviant”
statistical deviance what is normal what is deviant
Statistical deviance What is normal? What is deviant?

Height of men in biology class, arranged from shortest to tallest in 1-inch increments. Average: 5’10”

statistical deviance what is normal what is deviant5
Statistical deviance What is normal? What is deviant?

CDC national data for adults aged 20+

  • Men: 5’8” 190 lbs
  • Women: 5’3” 163 lbs
statistical deviance what is normal what is deviant6
Statistical deviance What is normal? What is deviant?

Is a 5’3”, 163-pound woman considered normal in U.S. society?

statistical deviance what is normal what is deviant7
Statistical deviance What is normal? What is deviant?

Is a 5’3”, 163-pound woman considered normal in U.S. society?

Depends on who you ask.

relativist definition of deviance
Relativist definition of deviance
  • deviance is behavior that violates norms AND that elicits negative sanctions.
  • an act or appearance is only deviant if a negative valuation is placed on it—if people stigmatize or punish those who act or look in a certain way
  • varies based on the setting and the people around
relativist definition of deviance9
Relativist definition of deviance
  • In IBOD, people might not punish the 5’3”, 163 pound woman for looking as she does.
  • Her experiences might be different in Hollywood.
critical question why
Critical question: “why?”

Why do we (as a society) choose to negatively react to some body variations and not others?

diversity abounds
Diversity abounds

Most common: brown eyes

33% of US pop: blue eyes

Least common: green eyes

Why don’t we punish green-eyed people?

diversity abounds12
Diversity abounds

What types of body diversity tend to elicit negative reactions from members of our society?

diversity abounds13
What types of body diversity tend to elicit negative reactions from members of our society?

“Extreme Bodies: Super Obese”

“Extreme Bodies: Conjoined Twins”

transsexual bodies

radical body modification (lots of tattoos, pierces, cosmetic surgery, humanimals)

Diversity abounds
diversity abounds14
What types of body diversity tend to elicit negative reactions from members of our society?

Why focus on these types of body variations?

Diversity abounds
functionalism
Functionalism
  • a group defines itself by the range of behaviors it will accept
functionalism17
Functionalism
  • a group defines itself by the range of behaviors it will accept
  • a norm becomes most evident in its occasional violation
functionalism18
Functionalism
  • a group defines itself by the range of behaviors it will accept
  • a norm becomes most evident in its occasional violation
  • by violating group norms and eliciting social controls, the deviant person shows the rest of the group what behaviors are not appropriate
functions of deviance
Functions of deviance
  • reaffirms group norms
  • establishes group boundaries
  • increases group conformity
  • increases group solidarity (fight common enemy)
functions of deviance20
Functions of deviance

What functions could bodily deviance serve?

functions of bodily deviance
Functions of bodily deviance?
  • Does stigmatizing obese people reaffirm American norms?
  • Does stigmatizing transsexuals maintain existing boundaries?
  • Does stigmatizing heavily tattooed people draw the rest of society closer together?
conflict theory of deviance
Conflict theory of deviance

power is significant

  • Who gets to decide what is considered deviant?
  • Who ends up in the status of “deviant”?
conflict theory of deviance23
Conflict theory of deviance

“Deviant” is a label that is applied to a behavior or appearance when people in power feel threatened.

conflict theory of deviance24
Conflict theory of deviance

“Deviant” is a label that is applied to a behavior or appearance when people in power feel threatened.

“Deviance” is a tool of social control.

conflict theory of deviance25
Conflict theory of deviance

Who might obese people, transsexuals, or heavily tattooed people be threatening, and how?

conclusions
Conclusions
  • There are many ways bodies deviate from the statistical bell curve.
conclusions27
Conclusions
  • There are many ways bodies deviate from the statistical bell curve.
  • The ones we choose to focus on (and punish) reveal something important about our society.
conclusions28
Conclusions

What happens when bodies deviate from the norm?

conclusions29
Conclusions

What happens when bodies deviate from the norm?

  • Nothing
conclusions30
Conclusions

What happens when bodies deviate from the norm?

  • Nothing
  • We punish the deviants (punish the individual in service of society?)
conclusions31
Conclusions

What happens when bodies deviate from the norm?

  • Nothing
  • We punish the deviants (punish the individual in service of society?)
  • The individuals punish themselves (self-surveillance)
conclusions32
Conclusions

What happens when bodies deviate from the norm?

  • Nothing
  • We punish the deviants (punish the individual in service of society?)
  • The individuals punish themselves (self-surveillance)
  • The deviants challenge the boundaries and create change
conclusions33
Conclusions

Ask yourself:

  • What characteristics of people’s bodies do we choose to define as significant, and what variations do we consider deviant?
conclusions34
Conclusions

Ask yourself:

  • What characteristics of people’s bodies do we choose to define as significant, and what variations do we consider deviant?
  • What does this tell us about what our society values and about who is in power?
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