Deviance and Medicalization: From Badness to Sickness : With by Peter Conrad, Joseph W. Schneider

By Peter Conrad, Joseph W. Schneider

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Extra resources for Deviance and Medicalization: From Badness to Sickness : With a New Afterword by the Authors - 2nd Expanded edition

Sample text

As Becker (1963, p. 162) notes, deviance is always a product of enterprise. It is through some type of political process, using "political" in its broad meaning of conflict about power relations, that deviance designations emerge and are legitimated. There are several ways this can occur. An individual or group may champion a cause that this or that behavior should be considered deviant (Blumer, 1971; Mauss, 1975). , 1971), the Women's Christian Temperance Union's campaign for Prohibition (Gusfield, 1963), the present-day antiabortion ("right to life") groups, and Anita Bryant's recent crusade against gay rights legislation are examples of this.

As Freidson (1970a) states, The other task is one that is essentially defined by the sociology of knowledge. It is created by the recognition that deviance is not a state as such. so much as an evaluation of the meaning of a state. Its problem for analysis then becomes not the etiology of some state so much as the etiology of the meaning of a state. Thus, it asks questions like: How does a state come to be considered deviant? How does it come to be considered one kind of deviance rather than another?

A by-product of this was a shift in American public opinion from an indifference to and tolerance of abortion to a hardening of attitudes against what had until then been a fairly common practice. The irony was that abortion as a medical procedure probably was safer at the tum of the 20th century than a century before, but it was defined and seen as more dangerous. By 1900 abortion was not only illegal but deviant and immoral. The physicians' moral crusade had successfully defined abortion as a deviant activity.

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