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12 Angry Men - Why Are Time, Place, Situation and Culture Important When Considering Conformity or Deviance?

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Chapter 8 Deviance and Social Control


1. Why are time, place, situation and culture important when considering conformity or deviance?

Sociologists use the term deviance to reference any infringement of norms, whether the violation is as insignificant as speeding, as serious as taking another life, or as entertaining as Chagnon's encounter with the Yanomamo. Driving over the speed limit and taking of another human life is not what is most important, in fact, it is the response to the deed that makes something deviant.

The creation of the study of social conformity is the notion that there is order in nature and it can be revealed, explained and appreciated. It is a practical search because followers of any large society accomplish many social acts a day. The result of such social activity is not disorder but rather a reasonable estimate of order. Social system means that the coordination and integration of social structure ends in order rather than in chaos. The means by which members are induced and/or obliged to conform to certain norms and values are numerous. The most obvious and uniform manifestations of social control are found in social institutions. Some of the prominent ones are law, government, religion, marriage, family, education and social classes. Also, caste distinctions and classes provide successful control over the behavior of individuals. These work in two ways. These distinctions create patterns of behavior within limits which govern each class in its relation with other classes. The importance of these patterns largely depends on the social setting of a potent means of implementing compliance, but it would be of little importance in implementing compliance in the impersonal life of an American city.

There are expressions of disapproval that range from the situation, culture, place, and time. This may range from a frown to death. So not because the crime is more serious, but the more serious a culture takes the norm the harsher the punishment will be. For example in one culture they chase bulls and kill them, this is rewarded and congratulation occurs; in other cultures you can be fined and imprisoned. Another example is receiving a raise, which is also called a positive sanction or being fired, a negative sanction. The more negative the more informal

One difference of the times is today informal degradation ceremonies, a term coined by Harold Garfinkel to describe rituals designed to remake the self by stripping away an individual's particular social identity and stamping a new one on it, occur more so than the formal ones of the 1950's. This was prevalent in 1996 for me when I was pregnant with my daughter. I was living in the college dorms of Baptist College in Arlington, TX. I was "allowed" to continue going to the college, but I had to move out of the dorms due to the new semester starting and the school not wanting reports of having a single pregnant Baptist student living amongst the holy ones. I had a HUGE scarlet letter on me, because I allowed it. The college was aware of the circumstances; the Dean of the college took me to the ER the night I was assaulted. Although extremely concerned and never left the hospital, that late night of November 15th, 1995, he was the one that did not want me living in the dorms when we found out shortly before Christmas that I was now pregnant. I think that was an eye opener for me and carried me on the journey these last 15 ½ years. His "concerns" was that the girls and guys new would not know how I became pregnant. I believe I said something to the effect of why wouldn't I tell them or you tell them and why would I need to tell them. I still believed that Baptists and Christians and good people were synonymous. I moved out and continued to go to college there, then very quickly realized how cruel my society was/is. I became to be ashamed and hid that I was pregnant. How is it that I lived entire life believing we were right and better because the way we lived and bad things didn't happen to us? At the doctor when they said "it was positive", referring to the pregnancy test, I was like "wow I am being blessed with a baby." How naïve I was. We are taught to be pro-life. My mother arrives at the doctor's office stating that if I wanted to have an abortion she would support me; then suggested I do that, that it was what was best for everyone. Really? I wished I could introduce my daughter to the world, she is amazing. Well through much struggle with what are right and what I should do and who would accept me, I chose to keep her and raise her on my own. I was essentially banished from the school, church and my own family. Needless to say I went on a self-destructive role that led me to the strong independent, single mother of 5, individual that I am today. I am no longer ashamed or embarrassed; I am an example of society placing social degradation on me. I am not accusing or blaming, in fact thanking my society; how miserable would I be if I lived under that dark cloud.

Unfortunately, nowadays in general, society no longer asks if they are single or why they are single and pregnant or even care; if one did not have a ring on their finger or if they knew that someone was single they wouldn't think twice, this is the norm. I say unfortunate, because the norm has become less responsible, our society is becoming more accepting or forgiving of irresponsible behavior. I know it may sound contradictory, but I believe that there is a clear difference between a lifestyle and a result of society. We still must have accountability for our actions good and bad and not always blame others. I can only blame my first pregnancy on terrible circumstances that resulted in amazing blessings. The remaining 4 pregnancies and fortunately amazing blessings were a direct result of choices I made.

I say all of this to express that I do not support the society that accepts irresponsible behavior, I still believe in marriage before sex and purity; However, I know that there are some that do live together before marriage and consummate their relationship without a formal ceremony and I personally have amazing friends that are in a same sex relationship and that is their choice, the difference is I don't judge and don't place a scarlet letter over them. I treat them as humans and only expect that in return. If help is needed I help, if not then I don't.

What I have described is deviance, mine as well as the society I live in. Deviance is nothing more than violations to social rules as far as sociology is concerned, regardless of importance. The one thing that is across the board is that deviance is relative; one group



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