David Starkey states that “the whites have become black.” What does it mean to be black? Or be white? Is being black a result of being ignorant, speaking broken English and dressing a certain way, while being white is being right. Speaking proper English, economically stable and better fashion? David claims that it’s based on “black culture” not skin color. An example that was brought up was if a successful black man were to speak on TV, turn off the video, listen to only audio, David thinks that an individual would come to the conclusion and say he’s “white” based on the way he speaks. Personally David doesn’t have an idea what is going on within poor black nor poor Caucasian communities. This is a form of Goffmans labeling theory which states how public labeling, or branding, as deviant, has adverse consequences for further social participation and self-image.
The concept that I found most interesting when learning about Goffman’s theories was his idea of a stigma. Goffman defines a stigma as an attribute that depending on the circumstances may be very discrediting. Not only do stigmas discredit ourselves but they also contribute to how we classify others as well. I relate to the concept of stigmas and negative stigmatization due to the fact that I am a member of Greek life here at Queens College. Similar to what one of my classmates had mentioned in class, bearing Greek letters on our clothing subjects us to negative stigmas very frequently. For example, a few of my sorority sisters and myself were recently apartment hunting. We made a conscious effort not to reveal our involvement in Greek life during the search because we knew that the stigma of Greek life would count negatively against us. Although we are all goal oriented students, our Greek letters would have immediately labeled us as the “party animal” Greeks to any perspective landlords. I enjoyed learning about Goffman because many of his concepts were very easy to relate to in today’s society and real life situations such as this one.
As soon as I began reading “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gillman it was very evident that the narrator and her husband did not have an equal partnership. The woman was consistently being regarded to in an inferior manner. The further on that I read, it became clear that this man was not only her husband but he doctor as well. Being that he was not only the superior male in the relationship but the medical professional as well, his prognosis of her “insanity” would never be questioned during this time. The fact that the narrator did not fulfill typical responsibilities of her gender roles was enough to deem her crazy. The lack of respect that society had for women during this era was nothing short of repulsive. I believe that the Yellow Wallpaper was meant to symbolize the liberation of women. Yet this made me question how much progress we have actually made as women to date. Although women are the closest we have ever been to our male counterparts equal, we are still not quite there yet. A man and a woman can have the same job title, for the same cooperation and work all of the same hours, yet the man will always make more than the woman. This reveals that although woman have made tremendous progress, they are still somewhat inferior to men as they were in the age of “The Yellow Wallpaper.”
“Conspicuous consumption of valuable goods is a means of reputability to the gentleman of leisure.”(Thorstein Veblen) In the book The Theory of the Leisure Class, Veblen introduces the term “conspicuous consumption” referring from a economic standpoint that an individuals consumptions may not be needed but only purchased to make a statement to others about the individual’s class or accomplishments. Veblen also describes the Leisure class which is consider the ruling class that doesn’t work but benefits most from a capitalist economic system.
“…the issue becomes not whether a person has experience with a stigma of his own, because he has, but rather how many varieties he has had his own experience with.” (Erving Goffman)Social stigma could be describes as the disapproval or discontent with an individual or group based on socially characteristic that are observed and serve to distinguish them from other individuals or group in society. Social stigmas could be perceived from categories such as physical disabilities, sexual orientation, gender, education, and religion etc. Attributes associated with social stigma often vary depending on the society.
“A cardinal American virtue, ambition, promotes a cardinal American vice, deviant behavior.” (Robert K. Merton) In “Social Structure and Anomie”(1938) Merton explains that often in pursuit of ambition one may be pushed into deviant behaviors. This reason is because according to Merton deviant behavior is due to social structure. Society creates the prescribed goals and socially structured means to achieved them. Merton explains five different modes of adaptions to an anomie society. Conformity is to conform to goals and means, which avoid becoming deviant. Retreatism is to reject goals and means, which the individual drops out from socially achieving those goals. Ritualism to conform without ambition of achieving culturally prescribed goals. Innovation to want to obtain culturally prescribed goals but by illegitimate ways. Rebellion refers to the deviants who attempt to change the existing structure of society.
The Movie “The House of Sand and Fog” captured many of Weber’s “ideal types” of social actions. The movie provided a modern spin on Weber’s idea of traditional,value-rational, affective and Instrumental- rational social actions. The movie also provides evidence that a person’s culture and background play a large role in their social actions. One example from the movie that stood out to me was when the police officer planted the drugs on the offender that had been beating his wife. This is an example of Weber’s idea of a value-rational social action. Planting the drugs falls under this ideal type because the police officer did so based on his on conscious belief that the man would end up in jail anyway, and he would be saving the man’s wife from his abuse in the mean time. Overall the movie contained many examples of Weber’s theories and the modern take on them helped me to better understand the information.