drawn from Goode, 2001-2008
See the disclaimer)
- What one believes to be true.
One's beliefs, disbelief, guesses, suspicions, and judgments.
- Holding a belief or "knowing"
that a given claim is valid, despite the fact the belief is unconventional
- The possessor of deviant beliefs
Two Ways a Belief
- Normatively- it
violates a dominant belief system
- Reactively- an audience-
adherents are likely to be condemned or punished by mainstream society.
Social rules "not only apply to how
one behaves, but in how and what one thinks!"
Deviant Beliefs v.
Deviant Behavior: "Pure"
cognitive deviance involves beliefs that are unlikely to translate into deviant
- Although many deviant beliefs
are often viewed as strange--even comical, and they may not be associated
with threats to significant groups; those who hold deviant beliefs can be
stigmatized, isolated, and even destroyed.
- The "essence" of the
threat is symbolic-- the belief threatens
a world view, or way of thinking about reality
- A belief is deviant only because
it is considered wrong and its believers are treated as socially
- Mental disorder and cognitive
deviance are empirically related (Mental disorder usually involves thinking
that is defined as problematic), but not the same--a variety of other issues
surround designations of mental disorder.
The Social Functions
of Belief Systems
- We regard some beliefs as conventional,
because they are the dominant beliefs embedded in our social institutions
and it is our social institutions which sanction deviant beliefs.
- What humans think (about) is
rooted in the material and social world, so beliefs arise through our social
interactions with others.
- Spring from social conditions
- Serve social functions
- Have social consequences
"Human consciousness is determined
by social existence." (Berger and Luckmann, in Goode).
The task of sociology is understand the social context out of which beliefs
Sociology of Knowledge
Most sociologists see a more
complex and less deterministic relationship between economy and beliefs. They
see other institutions as "co-determiners," or equally capable of influencing
- 19c. The way we think at
a particular time and place is a reflection of the economic arrangements
of the society in which we live. The nature of society's ideational world
i.e. art, politics, religion, science and justice system, is determined by
economics relations. The most influential ideas are those possessed by the
dominant social class.
- "The class which has the means
of material production at its disposal has control at the same time
over the means of mental production."
- Economics is not determined by
consciousness, but consciousness by economics.
- Ideas and beliefs may serve many
functions aside from their economic interests.
- There is a two-way street
between peoples beliefs and ideas, and the economic conditions
of their lives. Elective affinity: social conditions make it more
or less likely for particular beliefs to be held by members of particular
- People don't necessarily choose
beliefs, rather life conditions make certain beliefs more attractive and
- Great variation possible
Ethic: Religion can generate ideas that either stimulate or inhibit
a certain kinds of economic system.
- Accept one's fate
- Religion as a tool of
social control: Ecclessiae versus cults and sects.
- Reflexive relationship
- Deviant belief systems serve
functions for both the believer and those who condemn the belief.
- Focus on the social strata out
of which beliefs emanate, and how believing, as well as condemning, supports
the interests and perspectives of these strata.
- With cognitive deviance there
is usually two sets of deviants--two sides to the controversy. The deviance
is determined by power and survival.
Religious and Deviance
- Religion as deviance: cults, etc.
- Deviance accordingg to religion: normative control
- Deviance within religion: wrongdoing by the clergy (often judged from within)--sexual abuse of children, defying bureaucracy.
- Deviance within a religious body: doctrinal disputes
- Deviance between religios organizations
- Persons who hold beliefs that
challenge dominant theological interpretations have been shunned, condemned
and persecuted throughout history.
- " In order alleviate the insanity
and terror of finding out all social systems in life have been constructed,
it is the task of every religion to legitimate itself through the construction
of a "sacred canopy" and convince its followers that any challenge
is a challenge against the divine itself."
- 7c. Papal Power Play-
Islam and European Kings were gaining power.
- Priest declares, "God
wants Christians to fights a war in His name, in His Land, against Muslims
The Old Believer's v.
Mainstream Russian Orthodox Church (17th Century)
- Both defined each other as deviant
due to irrelevant points of faith.
- Old believers not only clung to
a rigid interpretation of error-filled religious texts, they also rejected
other western cultural influences, as well as the power of the Tsar.
- When the Old Believers failed
to recant their faith, thousands were burned or burned themselves in an effort
not to make a pact with the "Russian Orthodox Devil."
- Since the winner writes history
and the orthodoxy triumphed, its definition prevailed and the "true" devils
The Persecution of Witches in
- During the 1400 - mid 1600s,
there was an attempt to destroy pre-Christian faith and consolidate church
- The church demonized witchcraft
and defined it as unholy and anti-religious: "Witches are Satan's Puppets,
they must be killed for the "good" of all."
- Women defined as "witches"
were purged for the "good" of society and burned for "consorting
with the devil".
- Threats to traditional social
and moral order.
- The absolute domination of
the Catholic Church was being challenged. Reformation - the separation
of the sacred from the profane.
- These threats called for
the creation of a scapegoat, witches, who could be vilified and persecuted
in order to firm up the moral boundaries of the society.
- Rule by fear was an
attempt by the Catholic Church to re-establish its former power, dominance
- Women, whose sexuality in a
patriarchal society has been demonized for centuries, offered a convenient
relatively powerless target
- Division of community.
- When the European society and
the Catholic Church learned to adapt to the separation of church and state,
the "witch hunt" was discredited and ended in the mid 1600s.
Creationism, Intelligent Design, and Evolution
- Mutual Deviantization
- Creationism versus intelligent design
- Biblical creationism vs God guiding 'traditional" evolution
- Fact of evolution versus the mechanism of evolution ("theory" versus explanation).
- Advocates of natural selection can accept neither, and neither can accept natural selection
- Natural selection--virtually all scientists, 9% of general public
- Struggle for dominance (supernatural versus naturalistic explanations (what can be disproved).
- Beliefs (creationasima nd evolution) correlated with
- level of education
- urban-rural residence
- blue/red state (metro/"retro")
- Victory for one side is utter defeat for the other: classic "deviance.'
- A deviant belief with strong
and deep religious roots that surfaced in the 1980s
- Children are being abused
for satanic "breeding" purposes
- Although no one has turned up
evidence of satanic ritual abuse, lower class, rural, Christian fundamentalists
insist this "conspiracy is covered up by the ignorance, fear and complicity
of the police"
- Function: allowed rural,
uneducated, Christian fundamentalist to explain the way they seem to be robbed
of their birthright, that of holding a comfortable position in society.
- Because the supposed deviants
are imaginary, since the behavior never actually took place, the charge is
not only false, but also deviant.
(and cults in general)
- A "cult" that intertwined Christianity,
gnosticism and extraterrestrial beliefs.
- In 1997, thirty-nine of
its members committed suicide in an effort to reach the "Next Level"
of existence. The members believed the Hale-Bopp "taxi" would shed
their earthly containers and they would be reunited with the Divine.
- "The deviant status of this
belief system, which is translated into a concrete form of behavior, suicide,
is affirmed by the lack of valorization it was granted in the mainstream
institutions and the derision that greets its adherents."
- Cults as "outside" conventional religious traditions--otherness
- Element of "absolutism (both within cults and in the persepctive of critics)
- Media and sensationalism
Paranormal Beliefs as Deviant
- How and where the orignate and who believes
- Isolated individual (crank) and limited following
- Beliefs with traditional religious systems (creationism): like-minded community
- Client-practioner: astrology, psychics (professionals and those seeking "service")
- Core of researchers--academic: parapsychology
- Grassroots: UFOs
- In a 1996 Newsweek poll, 66%
of the respondents defined ESP power as real.
- Worldwide, 3-4 billion people
believe in some type of parapsychological powers.
- Telepathy - mind-to-mind
- Remote viewing- the ability
to "see" or perceive objects from a distance with out the aid of technology
- Precognition - seeing
- Retrocognition - seeing
the past with out the requisite information
- Psychokinesis (PK) - the
ability to move physical objects solely with one's mind.
- All or some aspects of these
parapsychological powers are known as "psi." In essence, mind-to-matter and
mind-to-mind influence or communication.
- Parapsychology researchers conduct
scientific investigations of the reality of psi, and examine psi in others.
Parapsychologists provide no conventional
explanation for why their findings turn out the way they do. They do not rely
on commonly understood material forces. However, "normal" science has
its unconventionalities, too.
- No less rigorous and "scientific"
than conventional, mainstream psychologists
- Findings would be convincing
to most social scientists.
- Form versus the content of science
(reliability, disprove, and logical explanation)
This assertion is not sufficient for
- The only thing Parapsychologist
can demonstrate is correlation. According to Dr. Radin something
is going on in the head that is effecting something in the world.
Paranomalists are demonstrating
statistically significant results. For example, in aggregates of many experiments,
psi effects appear vastly more often than by chance.
- What about replication?
- The assumption that forces are
consistent throughout the universe is the bedrock of science itself, so parapsychology
may never be fully accepted by the general scientific community.
Remote Viewing -1978-87-PEAR
experiment- The "percipient ", or remote viewer was asked to describe the physical
or geographical state or setting in which an "agent" an individual known to
the viewer was located.
cumulatively, something is undoubtedly happening. Just what and how awaits a
later generation of researchers.
Parapsychology as Deviant Science
of accepting their deviant definition and becoming more deviant, Parapsychologist
have stuck to a rigorous scientific methodology and rational thought criteria:
Professionals with PhD degrees.
- An excellent example because
it tends to be condemned or ignored by mainstream science .
- Research in parapsychology can't
be published in legitimate scientific journals and there is no professor/graduate
training like that which exists for the rest of science.
Are Real: The
Scientist v. Lay
- "Ways of Knowing"
- The tale that aliens crashed
in the desert of Roswell follows stereotypical or folklore structure.
- The themes of malevolent
monster has been embedded for thousands of years: "The cultural hero
( the ufo-ologist) who circumvents the monster and by investigative prowess
releases the essential item (wisdom) for humankind" "are truly ubiquitous
and geographically widespread"
- Ziegler-Roswell is a folk
narrative masquerading as an expose .In addition, Roswell UFO story represents
a "vehicle for social protest against the government. An expression
of "antigovernment sentiment" dramatic testimony to ongoing government conspiracies"
- Scientist's place far more emphasis
on physical and forensic evidence. (Air
- So: UFOs @ Roswell is deviant
because it is rejected by prestigious media and educational systems as well
as other influential mainstream social institutions. Also, adherents are marginalized,
depicted as kooks, and stigmatized.
Function of Urban
Legends in the African American Community
- the "Goliath effect"
- the big bad guy trying to bully the little person.
- KFC-Liz Claiborne - these urban
legends cannot be true literally, but seem plausible to many African Americans
because of their history of exploitation and oppression.
- Urban legends assert
that white oppression is alive and well and that African Americans resistance
to that oppression is "were not gonna take it".
- The deviant status of urban legends
refers to the fact that they lack legitimacy in mainstream institutions
Legends Reference Pages
Thus: Cognitive deviance refers
to holding beliefs that relevant audiences consider unacceptable, unconventional,
Mental Disorder as Deviance
Owner: Robert O. Keel email@example.com
Credits for this Page of Notes
Monday, April 21, 2008 2:30 PM