Art and Deviance

As we were learning about deviance, I often associated to 19th century French artists who mad efforts to break the middle class norms – or to the contrary, tried hard to integrate and fit in.

There was, for one example, the poet Gérard de Nerval who often walked in the parks of Paris leading his pet lobster on a blue ribbon. Of course he was getting surprised looks from the passers-by: walking a lobster instead of a dog? When pressed for an explanation, the poet just asked back with a false naive attitude: why, what is the difference? A lobster at least doesn’t bark.

While this is an example of violating a folkway in a rather harmless way, other artists in the second half of the 19th century went farther in provocating the public. “You must shock the Bourgeois,” said the symbolist poet Charles Baudelaire. Shocking the middle class through mocking their values and violating their norms became the program of a group of writers referred to as the ‘decadents.’ Many of these poets were interested in the effects of drugs on the consciousness, launching themselves in experimentation, and even founding a ‘Club of Hashish-Eaters.’ (The above-mentioned Gérard de Nerval was a member, along with Victor Hugo and others.)

The theme of drug-induced hallucinations appeared in art and poetry a lot. Also, many artists of the time were a fan of a green-colored alcoholic drink called absinthe, which was believed to be strongly mind-altering (although it probably wasn’t,  but it still became a symbol of decadence). Drinking absinthe, along with going to cabarets, made part of the ‘bohemian’ lifestyle the artists of the Montmartre were famous for. The term bohemian means gypsy-like, and suggests that these artists were standing apart from the mainstream society.

For an artist at the time, finding a respectable place in the contemporary society would have meant to either get large commissions, or to exhibit at the Salon. The latter was an official yearly art show, where the works accepted by a jury were shared with the public. Those artists who did not stick to the fashionable style of the time, but rather tried new ways of painting, had poor chance to get admitted to the Salon. Frustrated, the group of the ‘impressionist’ painters decided to give up trying, and to accept their separate standing, exhibiting their works in alternative ways. (One could associate here to what we have learned about possible reactions to an experience of anomie.)

An exception was Edouard Manet,  who was in fact a bourgeois in his heart, and never gave up trying to become an accepted Salon painter, even though he was regularly rejected – and many of his works were considered as scandalous. One of his masterpieces, The Luncheon on the Grass, was not accepted to the 1863 Salon, but was displayed at an independent art show. Even there, it created a big scandal. A nude woman sitting on the grass, next to two fully dressed men? This would have seemed acceptable to the public if there had been a mythological theme to justify the nudity, but there was none. The picture just represented a group of contemporary people having a picnic.

Human Plastination

We know that deviance is a word used to explain a behavior that violates the “norms.”  As stated in our text The Practical Skeptic on page 173 “To define an act as deviant is to say nothing about whether that act is good or bad, or moral or immoral.  To say that an act is deviant is to say only that it violates the norms of a particular group of people at a particular point of time.”

A good example of this would be Gunther Von Hagens and his art of human plastination.  I’m not sure if any of you have ever been to any of his Body Worlds exhibits, but it is fascinating!

What he does, is in my opinion, a work of art.  But, that opinion does vary.  Death can be hard for people to deal with.  The norm at one time was one of two things, people were either burried or cremated.  When Gunther Von Hagens started the art of plastination, it caused quite a controversy.  Seriously, to embalm someone, strip away various parts of their body, have them naked and on display was appauling to many.

The body worlds exhibit is not only amazing but also a very educational experience for many.  Although it was certainly a break from the “norm” it has it’s benefits and has become a more accepted practice.

Below I have included some links about the exhibit itself, the controversy behind it and general information.


Creativity or Deviance?

Deviance is a variation of the norm, doing something different from what society expects.  When someone is deviant, they usually receive negative sanctions from society, ranging from a dirty look to a prison sentence.  Even if the deviance is positive, like a student who is extremely smart, it can be treated with a negative response; not being accepted into a group of friends or people being angry because they ruined the curve.

Creativity is the invention of a new idea or product.  But what happens when creativity and deviance overlap?  In my retail job, since I have been doing it for so long, I will often have “best practices” or ways of doing things that I have found work well, but differ from the way that the company wants things done.  In these situations, I have 2 choice; do it my way and know I will have success, or do it the company’s way with uncertain results.  There are possible ramifications to doing either.  If I do it my way and fail, I will get in trouble, maybe even fired.  If I do it the company’s way and fail, I may still get in trouble.  The results in this situation determine whether I have been creative or deviant.

The article below discusses a Japanese researcher who continued to do work on a project after the funding was removed.  He was successful in creating an LED and praised for his “creativity”.  But it could have gone the other way for him as well, if he had failed.  Society, in general, provides fewer sanctions for successful deviance than deviance that is unproductive or a failure.




Gender Socialization: For A Boy Or A Girl?

          Building gender socialization starts at birth and grows with us throughout are lives. We all learn by watching and because a lot of what children see helps them shape their identities about who they are we, as parents, need to know what we teach them will benefit them in the future. Children not only learn from the people that surround them in their life but also learn and get ideas from something as simple as a commercial that happens to pop up right before their favorite show is about to come on. They are witnessing gender socialization and they don’t even realize it. I was even unaware of how something as simple as a commercial could influence the thought process of a child.

          While looking at a Christmas magazine with my child we came across a toy that she noticed that she would like to have the chance to play with but don’t me she couldn’t because it was for boys. I had asked her why she thought that and she told me that on the commercial it showed a girl being “grossed out” by the toy so girls wouldn’t want to play with it. So I asked her if it bothered her or grossed her out and she told me it didn’t. I told her as long as it didn’t bother her and that she would enjoy using it, then it wasn’t just for boys.

          That short conversation was a real eye opener as a parent as in how, toys especially, are marketed to children. My daughter has grown up around going camping, fishing, getting dirty, and 4-wheelers. All of which are stereotyped as boys activities. What we teach our children is so important for their futures. We need to teach them that as long as we try hard enough and dream big enough, whether or not it says it is just for girls or just for boys, you can accomplish anything.

Office socialization

Office socialization means less stress and better work. Since we can all relate to the fact that we spend more time at work with co workers then we do with our families and friends, it is most likely essential that we make nice with those we work with. It should be our goal to make it tolerable and friendly so make it a good place. Socialization is described as how we learn to become part of our culture or the world around us. We have developed ourselves based on a certain set of norms that form our personalities and those norms and values in the workplace are different and that is what can be hard to adapt to. There is a possibility of a conflict in norms and in order to survive in the workplace we need to adapt to a new culture. Independence is a skill that is necessary in the socialization process in the workplace because if the person cannot communicate then the ability to learn will diminish.

If socialization is nonexistent in the workplace then this can lead to added stress.  It is important to take time for workplace socialization. While working and getting the job done is important, getting up from the desk once in a while is a good thing. Healthy workplace socialization is good in order to reduce stress. This will provide for more healthy and positive relations with coworkers and maybe even the boss. The positive effects of workplace socialization are the easing of stress, anxiety and job depression. This can also result in a more productive work environment.  This makes for a better person and employee. Socialization in the workplace also is responsible for better morale. I know I always could use a good laugh and some sort of humor in my workday. As long as the humor is tasteful and not offensive to others. It is important not to offend others in the process, this may have a reverse effect on morale. This could result in no friends on the job and may cost you your job.

We must also be mindful of the fact that we have a job to do each day and we have to adjust to many different personalities. So being able to adjust to a diverse group of people is essential.  An example is when new employees are hired and the supervisor brings that employee around to meet the staff. It serves as an ice breaker and a way to initiate a sense of common ground between the newbie and the existing workers.

Gender Socialization in Media

A huge place we see gender socialization is in the media. I am focusing more on younger kids, but it can be seen throughout all types of media. In the first link below there is a little video that shows pieces of Disney movies. When kids are younger Disney movies are a very popular form of entertainment. As the video shows, the characters in the movies show kids how they should act based on their sex.

The girls are usually in need of a man to come save them. There are almost no cartoon movies based on succesful women. The idea of women staying home and cleaning the house is seen in a lot of the films. For the boys watching the movies, they get the idea that they need to be strong and not afraid. The heros in the movies are always men, and they always have big muscles. Usually the end of the movies comes down to two men fighting for the women. Whoever is the stronger of the two, will win the girl. Women are seen more as objects for men.

Almost all disney princesses wear pretty dresses, and are poliet. They are seen as innocent. The men have fit bodies and usually have their muscles showing. The men are seen as more powerful than the women.  It gives young girls the idea that they should be pretty, thin, and dress in girly clothes. Boys get the impression that they need to be able to fight, and also be fit. Disney movies is just a small example of media socializing gender. It is seen through tv shows, commercials, advertisments etc. I also included a link to a page on gender socialization through toys since we have recently been discusing that in the forum.