Creating a deviant class: “There’s something wrong with you”

What are the ingredients of a deviant class?

First of all, there has to be an easy marker of deviance. You need to be able to look at someone, or know minimal information about them (like where they live, or who their parents were, etc) and then deduce an inherent ‘wrongness.’

Since we live in the age of Healthism, I’ll call this pathologizing.

There is a good amount of agreement out there on the subject of Health – if you do not strive to be Healthy, then you’re not as good as those who do. If you are perceived to be actively damaging your Health, or passively not fixing what others perceive is fixable, there is something ‘wrong’ with you.

Even the sympathetic, nurturing professions of the world will agree with this.

Talk to a doctor – if you don’t follow their regimen and ‘correct’ the perceived flaw permanently, there is nothing wrong with the regimen, or their perception. No, you’re ‘noncompliant.’

Talk to a therapist – you must be ‘addicted,’ or ‘emotionally unstable,’ or ‘have daddy issues’ if you’re exhibiting the perceived flaw. You engage in apparent unhealthy activities as a coping mechanism. You look unhealthy because you must be engaging in unhealthy activities, which means you must be fixed. If the flaw does not get corrected via therapy, you are ‘noncompliant,’ or ‘resistant.’

The main ingredient of a deviant class the perceived unwillingness to conform to the non-deviant class. ‘Resistant,’ ‘noncompliant’ — that’s the sort of language used to condemn and point out the ‘wrongness’ of the deviant individual.

The final ingredient of a deviant class is the perception that if members of the class are allowed to remain deviant (i.e., not forced to conform) they will be an imminent threat to, or at the very least a pox on, the members of the non-deviant class.

Does this sound familiar to anyone?

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5 comments on “Creating a deviant class: “There’s something wrong with you”

  1. vesta44 says:

    Sounds too damned familiar. Guess I’ll just have to embrace my deviancy and flaunt it before the world and they’re gonna have to learn to deal with it. Having been a misfit for other reasons all my life has prepared me well for the role of “deviant”.

  2. integgy says:

    Gah, I’m so girlcrushing on you right now. I just wrapped up a class on deviance and social control, and one of the things I wrote my class introduction paper on was my experience as being considered deviant by society, because of my fatness. Of course, that was pretty much the only chance I had to do so, because the focus of the class was primarily criminal deviance, but it was a great feeling to be able to connect to the class, that way. :)

    (Next up: medical sociology. I can’t wait to hear about how they talk about obesity in conjunction with sociology).

  3. bigliberty says:

    Vesta,

    That’s the way I feel. The problem is not with the people thrust into deviant classes in order to satisfy the sanctimonious whims of some mainstream culture, it’s with *the sanctimony*.

    Integgy,

    Aw! :blush: Thanks. I’d love to read what you wrote for your class, by the way, if you ever feel like posting it. I’m very interested in moral panics and moral crusades as emergent social behavior when certain social initial conditions are meant (I do abstract computer modeling).

  4. integgy says:

    Sadly, it was a hand-written, in-class assignment, and it was never handed back, so I can’t really post it (I also don’t remember exactly what I said, since it was almost three months ago).

  5. [...] Liberty « Creating a deviant class: “There’s something wrong with you” Obesity Tax proposed in New York December 15, 2008 Governor Paterson proposes [...]

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