Modern Deviancy

We have an interesting topic of discussion for our seminar this afternoon – deviance and power.

For reference, we are primarily looking at the following texts:

Pfohl, Images of Deviance and Social Control, New York 1985.

Cresswell, In Place/Out of Place, Minneapolis 1996.

Firstly, it is important that we establish a definition for the deviant. This comes from a number of writings to be summed up as:

A title given to a group of individuals who are unique, different and abnormal in comparison to the established power base

Similarly, Howard S. Becker, as quoted in Cresswell’s work, sums up the cause of deviancy nicely here:

Social groups create deviance by making the rules whose infraction constitutes deviance

However, the most interesting question posed to us this afternoon will be the following: who are the deviants in modern Britain?

Well, historically, deviants and criminals have been understood as thieves and crooks, murderers, the mentally ill and even homosexuals. However, the nature of deviancy has perhaps expanded in recent years, if sticking with its typical definition. It is possible that in early twenty-first century Britain, deviants include political protesters, terrorists as well as law-breakers. Law breakers are deviant because they attempt to defy the rule of power by disobeying it. Political protesters are deviant because they attempt to change the nature or path of power through coercion and cooperation. Terrorists are deviant because they attempt to overrule and decimate the existence of power in order to replace it with a new power.

This is, of course, a particularly brief answer. But an interesting starting point for discussion, nonetheless…

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