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February 1st, 2002 Homework Assignment for Sharon E. Baxter’s Sociology 227

Merle D. Zimmermann


January 31, 2002

  1. React to the essay on page one of the Concepts of Deviance packet. (more than "I agree" or "I disagree").
  2. My feeling is that it is not the responsibility of the general-purpose student to make deep moral and ethical decisions. That job belongs to the people who are preparing for governmental positions. The most important quality that an ordinary student should possess is the ability to pursue studies for an extended period without tiring. So far as I know, although the ability to make social judgments would be a nice thing to have, most of the time it would be unnecessary and not directly related to work.

    If discoveries were misused, the individuals who were in charge of the projects should be held responsible, not the underling who made the actions possible. However, if everyone were trained to have good scruples, then perhaps a fewer disasters of the sort mentioned in the article would occur. Unfortunately, what is good for one group is often bad for another, so even if individual development personnel were permitted to have a say in what was going on, events of dire consequence would still take place.

    Also, some of the examples cited in the article (such as Ozone depletion) were mainly the result of a lack of scientific understanding of the processes of nature. When CFCs were first put into use in industry, they were chosen because they are non-active chemicals biologically. The reactions that take place in the high atmosphere could not work at sea level because the intense solar radiation required to catalyze them is not present, having already been filtered out. Continued use of CFC-based chemicals is primarily caused by an industrial need for cheap and effective ways of producing profits. Industry policy is generally not very influenced by the opinions of scientists, but instead by the all-consuming quest for monetary fulfillment.

  3. Give a specific personal example of the relative nature of deviance.
  4. When I was young I was in a ballet class at the local community center. During my first few years, it was acceptable for me to be a student there. As time passed, however, my participation became personally embarrassing, and some of my so-called friends were surprised and shocked when they found out what I was doing on Thursday afternoons. Eventually I ended my career as a student there due to other reasons unrelated to the social stigma.

    However, in Russia being a male dancer (as far as I can see) is an acceptable line of work. Many famous male ballet dancers at the time came from that part of Europe, and, thinking about it now, I believe that the reason for this concentration of talent was due to the fact that there was nothing wrong with being both male and a dancer in that society.

  5. Answer the questions and gives examples asked for on page fifteen of the Concepts of Deviance packet.

[The Worst Becomes the Norm]
1. What is meant by this title?

2. Be able to give an example from the article.
3. What are the "flags of urban surrender?"
4. What specific example of this is shown in the article?

The article "The Worst Becomes the Norm," published in the Washington Post on Sunday, March 28 1993 (on page C7), is about how the atmosphere of the society the writer lives in is adapting to increasing levels of terror and violence. My understanding of the author tells me that he is upset by the fact that the people of 1993’s America are accepting violence and crime as normal, everyday occurrences. He is afraid when he does not see any atmosphere of shock and disgust present after twelve people were murdered on Valentine’s Day in 1993 when, in 1929, seven gangsters were killed and there was a huge amount of media coverage of the "Chicago Valentine’s Day Massacre" incident.

The "flags of urban surrender" referred to in the article are signs posted by individuals who have accepted the atmosphere of robbery present in their city of New York, and have written "Car has NO RADIO" on placards and placed them on the dashboard to keep would-be-thieves looting hands away. He feels that everyone should be strong and not yield an inch to the temptation of accepting anything but completely proper behavior from other Americans.