●Powerful groups make norms and laws that reflect and protect their interests.●Crime and deviance is an outcome of conflict between those who have and those who do not have power.
●The criminal justice system protects the interests of the dominant class.Source:Finley (2002) One of the important ideas for this course that emerges from conflict theories, discussed by Perry (2016), is the idea that the “mythic norm” and differences reflect and reinforce power differences found in society. That is, socially powerful groups are motivated to maintain their position in society. One way to maintain this status quo is to not only highlight differences between norms and those who deviate from these norms but to socially construct these differences as inherently negative. People who are “different” then are constructed as “bad”. For example, popular media has regularly constructed the mentally ill as “sick” and “dangerous”. The American Psychiatric Association, for example, has criticized the portrayal of mentally ill persons in Batman comics as several of his most common villains are depicted as having serious mental health problems. In early 2017, the M. Night Shylaman film Split (2017) faced similar criticism from mental health advocacy groups for its use of mental illness as a source of horror. In your readings for this week, Perry (2016) describes several ways in which differences can be constructed: MechanismDescription
Language1.One of the ways in which power differences can be constructed is through the use of language. In the above example we cited the construction of mental illness in popular media as a source of danger. References to characters as “psychos”, “crazy”, or “sick” reinforce the idea that the mentally ill are not only different but also “bad”. 2.Gendered Language“is an exclusive rather than inclusive means of communicating ideas, which reflects the experiences and perceptions of one gender group over another” (Perry, 2016, p. 415). For example, the expression ‘you hit like a girl’, an expression often hurled among young boys as an insult, constructs being a girl as “weaker” and reinforces norms that women are expected to be passive. 3.A good illustration of the importance of language in constructing difference and maintaining power differentials is the use and debate around the use of gender-specific vs. gender-neutral pronouns. There has been an increasing push to move away from gender-specific pronouns (e.g., he, she) to gender-neutral pronouns (e.g., they, ze, zir) to increase inclusivity for
transgendered and non-binary gendered individuals. Media 1.Media narratives and images can also construct difference as negative and reinforce existing power differences among social groups. 2.In March 2017 Netflix released a new show based on the Marvel Comic book character Iron Fist. Prior to and following the show’s release criticism focused on the use of the ‘white savior’ narrative in the show. Briefly the white saviornarrative refers to a storyline trope where a white character emerges to save people of colour from some oppressive