USJ Volume I

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Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 1


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018


Undergraduate sociology journal Volume I 2018

Undergraduate Sociology Students’ Union | University of Toronto 2018 Undergraduate Sociology Journal This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018


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Editor's Note Welcome to the inaugural volume of the Undergraduate Sociology Journal (USJ). This volume showcases articles written by undergraduate students at the University of Toronto. These articles explore a variety of themes with critical analysis and reflexivity. Moreover, they share a common concern about how we make sense of the world around us through a sociological lens. The success of this journal was made possible with the collaborative efforts of many talented individuals. First and foremost, to the copy editors, thank you for your time, input, and dedication which tremendously contributed to the overall quality of the journal. To Amal Khurram, thank you for designing the beautiful cover pages and visuals. To our Faculty Advisor, Dr. Scott Schieman, thank you for graciously offering your time to support this ambitious initiative. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with a passionate and brilliant team. To the contributors, thank you for entrusting us with your papers. Your cooperation throughout the publishing process was greatly appreciated. To the Undergraduate Sociology Students’ Union and the University of Toronto Libraries, thank you for providing the assistance to produce this journal. Lastly, to our readers, thank you for your interest in the USJ, I hope you enjoy reading the first volume. Sincerely, Susha Guan, Editor-in-Chief


Masthead editor-in-chief Susha Guan copy editors Joyce Ho Marissa Hum Amal Khurram Saedra Sehgal Naomi Trott Design editor Amal Khurram Faculty advisor Dr. Scott Schieman contributers Nadine Abd El Razek Jing Meng (Amy) Bi Ezra Blaque Tarini Date Madeleine DeWelles Leanne Gruppuso Jade Hazell Sofia Jelovac Ariel Kenny Julia Li Habiba Maher Jessica Rapson Antonio Scarfone Helen Yang Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 5


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Table of Contents Editor's Note. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Masthead. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Table of Contents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Crime and Deviance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Gossip as a Mechanism of Social Control Jade Hazell. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Gender, Sexuality, and Identity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 The Gayest People on Earth! Examining the Sociocultural and Cognitive Formations of Gay Identities Ezra Blaque. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Manspreading: The Gendered Occupation of Space and Its Implications Tarini Date . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 “You Gotta Touch Her Again. You Gotta Lick Her Again.”: Observing Hegemonic Masculinity in a DIY Punk Dive Bar Ariel Kenny. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 “Doing Gender” at the Gym as a “Short, Puny Girl” Habiba Maher. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 The Dark Knight’s Stark Encounters with Provisional Selves and Frame Breaks Antonio Scarfone. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Health and Sociology. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Language Revitalization and the Indigenous Youth Suicide Epidemic in Canada: Decolonizing Suicide and Saving Lives through Language Julia Li . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 The Medicalization of Mental Illness in Canada Jessica Rapson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Social Movements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 The Muslim Brotherhood’s 2012 Electoral Success in Egypt: An Analysis Nadine Abd El Razek. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .68 The Seed of Contempt Helen Yang . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 Theory and Critical Reflections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 Are We Moving toward or Away from Innocence? Jing Meng (Amy) Bi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 Intimacy and Disability: How Disabled People Navigate and Sustain Physically and Emotionally Intimate Relationships in an Able-Bodied Context Madeleine DeWelles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 Religion and Fandom Sofia Jelovac. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96 Urban Sociology. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99 Redevelopment of Regent Park: Is Social Mix the Solution? Leanne Gruppuso. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100


CRIME AND DEVIANCE

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GOSSIP AS A MECHANISM OF SOCIAL CONTROL Jade Hazell

ABSTRACT This paper explores the effectiveness of gossip as a method of social control, specifically as a learning mechanism, to impart information about the norms and rules of specific society, and as an enforcement mechanism, to ensure general conformity to those rules. Studies suggest that gossip is most effective as an enforcement mechanism in small social networks that share common values, this is because it uses other forms of social control such as guilt, shame and ridicule to undermine a non-conforming individual’s reputation. Since our daily interactions are based on our reputation, the concern of being negatively perceived by one’s peers’ forces people to conform to society’s rules. Moreover, this form of social control is an acceptable practice amongst all societies and ages. While the secondary effects of gossip can be harmful to the individual, its overall effectiveness in maintaining group solidarity and cohesion make it one of the more effective forms of informal social control.


IntrodUCtion Social control is the process used to regulate the behaviour of individuals or a group (Tepperman and Upenieks 2015:4). Despite the diversity of customs and practices, all societies have rules and norms governing behaviour, and therefore, mechanisms to enforce conformity to these norms and control deviance (Tepperman and Upenieks 2015:4). One of the most effective mechanisms is gossip, because it occurs during the exchange of social information, which is an essential component of daily life. Gossip is an informal, often private conversation which reports on the actions, behaviours and attitudes of other people (Kurland and Pelled 2000: 429; Giardini and Conte 2012:18). While gossip has been traditionally considered negative, this paper adopts the view that it is only negative for the targeted individual but beneficial for the group by promoting social cohesion. Gossip has two primary goals when acting as an agent of social control. First, as a learning mechanism, it informs individuals of the norms and rules of the specific society with which they are interacting. Second, as an enforcement mechanism, it ensures general conformity to those rules. Gossip is more effective in achieving the latter because it uses other forms of social control such as shame, guilt, and ridicule to undermine an individual’s reputation. Our daily interactions with others are based on our reputation, the fear of being shunned or negatively impacted by exaggerated versions of our social deviance force people to adhere to society’s rules. Furthermore, it is an acceptable practice amongst all ages and institutions. However, gossip is most effective in small social networks with shared values, rendering it less effective in larger groups. While social settings are influential, the context in which gossip is most effective is determined by how sacred the social norm being violated is to the community. The more important the norm, the harsher the penalty and the more likely individuals are to adhere to gossip to avoid violating this norm. Conversely, the more mundane the norm the less likely individuals are to adhere to it. For example, the norm of sacred female purity in certain social settings versus the mundane norm of using one’s manners. In this paper, I will focus on the two primary goals of gossip in the social context of the workplace, school and small neighbourhood communities. I will compare the effectiveness of gossip based on the value of the norm and the degree to which it is violated. These norms include manners for children, workplace etiquette, sports team participation, and honour killings. Gossip is likely to be more effective in the latter two social settings due to the norms they violate and their general success in maintaining conformity. Before analyzing its effectiveness, I will define gossip as its definition has been contested across the literature. I will then investigate the theories of gossip—using both classic studies (pre-2000) and modern studies—to see how they explain the use of gossip in modern social interactions. Finally, I will investigate the effectiveness of gossip in achieving its goals and examine the expected and unexpected implications of each scenario.

DEFINING GOSSIP AND SOCIAL CONTROL Gossip is generally viewed as private, small conversations which reports on the actions, behaviours and attitudes of other people (Kurland and Pelled 2000:429). Gossip thrives when the facts are uncertain because they are not easily discovered or publicly available (Black 2014:275); for example, whether someone is dating multiple people at once or not. Gossip uses other forms of social control such as shame, guilt, and ridicule to undermine an individual’s reputation. Shame is a painful sense of disgrace rooted in deviations from the moral standards upheld by our society (Tepperman and Upenieks 2015:14). It is often felt in the present and lodges deep in a person’s psyche thus continuing to inspire feelings of disgrace and anger long after the incident has passed (Tepperman and Upenieks Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 9


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 10 2015:14). Similar to shame, ridicule stems from a failure to adhere to a standard upheld and enforced by society, and often results in being subjected to contemptuous and dismissive behaviour or language (Dictionary n.d.; Grabosky 2013). On the other hand, guilt is associated with the violation of moral standards we hold for ourselves and is more likely to result in behavioural changes (Tepperman and Upenieks 2015:14). By combining the effects of guilt, shame, and ridicule, gossip manages to use both internal and external feelings of disgrace, embarrassment, anger, and exclusion to force adherence to social norms.

THEORIES OF GOSSIP Two theories provide the foundation for our understanding and use of gossip as a mechanism of social control in modern society: Dunbar’s theory of evolutionary gossip (2004) and Gluckman’s theory of gossip and social control (1963). Dunbar’s theory presents a historical approach of the evolutionary development of language; this historical context of language is useful to understand how gossip is used in modern societies. Gluckman expands on Dunbar’s theory by discussing gossip as a mechanism of social control to enforce cultural rules and norms. Dunbar (2004:102) argues that humans developed language to preserve personal alliances within groups that became too large for the manual grooming practices of our primate ancestors. Since grooming can only occur in pairs, while a conversation can comfortably support four people, an individual can triple the number of potential allies just by talking (Dunbar 2004:102). Dunbar defines gossip as the exchange of information about the changes that occur in our social networks. In this way, he views gossip as a multi-faceted tool in societies, outlining its four primary uses: (1) keeping track of other individuals in our social network, (2) advertising one’s own advantages as a friend/ mate, (3) seeking advice for personal problems, and (4) a mechanism of social control—policing “free-riders” (Dunbar 2004:106). For Dunbar, free-riders are individuals who exploit the social wellbeing of the group for increased personal gains (2004:106). For example, taking more resources from the group than one contributed. The inherent danger free-riders pose to social welfare makes policing their behaviour (exercising social control) an important role of gossip. Gluckman’s theory of gossip, outlined in Gossip and Scandal (1963), elaborates on Dunbar’s view of gossip as a mechanism of social control. Synthesising other authors clinical observations, Gluckman argues that gossip acts as an instrument of social control by enforcing the rules, norms and general unity of social groups (Gluckman 1963; Black 2014:274). This notion of gossip’s social function was highlighted in his analysis of the historical observation of an indigenous group known as the Makah, whose cultural and lingual traditions were slowly being depleted through intermarriages with European colonists. Their social values and norms governing behaviour, rituals, and trade transactions were solely governed by gossip (Gluckman 1963:310). To Gluckman, this sole dependence on gossip enforced social cohesion among the original group of Makah as it prevented outsiders with no knowledge of their culture’s gossip from participating in social interactions. It also served to remove the perceived “non-conforming deviants”—the children of the intermarriages who had less knowledge of the gossip and norms because of their parentage (1963:313). Gluckman’s theory of gossip will not only support my examples of gossip in small social networks, but it will also serve as the foundation of my stance that gossip harms the individual while preserving the group.

GOSSIP AS A LEARNING MECHANISM One of gossip’s primary goals, as an agent of social control, is to inform individuals of the norms and rules of the specific society they are interacting with. Known as informative gossip, this


is likely to be presented in the form of an anecdote or story and can be explained through negative rule-breaking or positive rule-strengthening examples (Izuogu 2009:27). As previously mentioned, informal controls such as gossip are reinforced through the process of socialization. Primary socialization occurs in the home, where a child learns many of the social skills and norms required to successfully participate in society’s institutions, such as schools, public spaces and offices (Tepperman and Upenieks 2015:64). Gossip in the form of negative rule-breaking stories can be used during the socialization process to enforce social norms as outlined by Baumeister, Zhang and Vos, who discuss how parents embellish stories about other children’s misdeeds in order to teach their children proper conduct (2004:114). For example, there is a prevailing social norm that everyone should be polite and respectful. To convince their children to adhere to this norm, most parents resort to the story about Santa Claus and his naughty and nice list, warning disrespectful deviants that they will get nothing or a lump of coal like all the other naughty children. The negative outcome for the rule-breaking child in the story is designed to produce a desirable effect in the child, hopefully one that would see them adhere to the social norms. However, as this social norm is not particularly sacred to the community it can and often does get ignored by the child who will most likely misbehave again. Gossip as a learning mechanism can also be used in cases of secondary socialization. Secondary socialization occurs outside the home (in a workplace or school) and involves learning specific rules, norms, and attitudes relevant to the social setting with which they are interacting (Tepperman and Upenieks 2015:64). A study conducted by Jan W. Kelly (1985:46) demonstrates that gossip is routinely used in institutions such as International Business Machine Corporation (IBM), Hewlett and Packard and Intel to teach new employees “the ropes” in an organization. This gossip— typically circulated by older employees—serves to enforce the existing social norms in the workplace by highlighting the unspoken norms, heroes, villains and discreet power holders in the office (Kelly 1985:46). For example, some workplaces have an unofficial social norm about eating food brought in to share with coworkers; if you eat the food that other workers bring in, you are also expected to bring in food to share. Those who simply take without resupplying embody the definition of Dunbar’s free-rider and are subject to gossip. New employees who hear about these “free-riders” and how they are negatively perceived around the office are more likely to adhere to gossip and norms, to ensure that they can successfully integrate into their new work environment. However, the social norm of bringing in food is not necessarily sacred to a workplace environment. Furthermore, some individuals may not care about how they are perceived by others, thus diminishing feelings such as shame or guilt and render the gossip less effective. This can, and often does, lead to people ignoring the social norm and eating most of the food anyway. The secondary effects of informative gossip are largely expected and highly beneficial as they help individuals successfully integrate into society. Without informative gossip, newcomers would be unaware of the social norms they are expected to adhere to and would thus have a harder time adjusting.

GOSSIP AS AN ENFORCING MECHANISM While gossip is moderately effective in terms of informing individuals about social norms, it is exceedingly effective as an enforcement mechanism. This is because gossip, as an enforcement mechanism draws on other forms of social control such as guilt, shame, and ridicule to undermine one’s reputation. Since our daily social interactions are based on our reputation, the fear of being shunned or negatively impacted by exaggerated versions of our social deviance forces people to adhere to society’s rules or leave the social setting, thus, preserving the social norm. An example of this effectiveness was outlined in a study conducted by Kniffin and Wilson (2005) and analyzed Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 11


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 12 by Grosser (2012) who looked at the social dynamics of a university rowing team. The nature of competitive rowing makes the teams inherently interdependent. The researchers who studied this team for three semesters found that groups with high levels of interdependence were more prone to gossip amongst one another to achieve their goals. Since rowing is a team-based sport, the sacred (most important) social norms in this setting revolve around the cooperation and effort of each team member. The failure of one member to show up for practice renders the entire team ineffective. The researchers noted that to prevent this from happening, the team created a list of strict norms that targeted the dedication and cooperation of team members. During the three-semester observation period, researchers focused on one team member who was violating these norms by failing to “pull his weight” (Kniffin and Wilson 2005:286). This member, who was eventually nicknamed “the slacker,” repeatedly skipped practice and was generally perceived by the group as someone who did not work as hard as the rest of the team. The researchers noted that the amount of negative gossip exchanged about the slacker was significantly higher in the one semester that the member was present compared to the two semesters he was absent. The gossip included phrases such as “I don’t understand how he accomplishes anything in life” and he “just doesn’t have the crew mentality” (Kniffin and Wilson 2005:286). These phrases not only began to undermine his reputation in the group, but it also created an atmosphere of ridicule and shame, by implying that his lack of commitment in this setting must be indicative of his ability elsewhere. In this context, the negative gossip served two functions. First, it served to control the deviant’s behaviour. The slacker, as the deviant struggling to conform, had two options to end the gossip (a) he could modify his behaviour to meet the social norms, or (b) he could leave the team. He decided on the latter (Grosser 2012: 56). Second, the gossip served as a warning to all other team members that violating the social norms would not be tolerated (Grosser 2012:56). Any team member considering skipping practice is more likely to remember this incident and attend practice to avoid ending up like the slacker. In this way gossip acted to preserve and reinforce the sacred social norm of equal participation and thus the cohesion of the group. The effectiveness of gossip is even more exaggerated when the norm being enforced is considered sacred by the community or when the penalty for violation is considered excessive by an actor in a cost-benefit analysis (see social exchange theory in Cherry 2017). An example of the most effective implementation of gossip is illustrated in the honour killing practices in some Middle Eastern communities in Canada (henceforth referred to as ‘community’). The concept of honour is fundamental in these social settings. According to Awwad, a family’s status within a community is inextricably linked to this concept of honour, which is measured by the sacred social norm of female sexual purity (2001:39). Honour killing is a form of gender-based violence, typically committed by a male family member against a female relative who is perceived to have dishonoured the family by breaking the sacred social norm of female sexual purity—endorsed by the patriarchal social construct—by engaging in unacceptable forms of sexual behaviour (Awwad 2001:39). These behaviours can range from having an alleged boyfriend (Tripp 2015) to any form of extramarital sex (Tripp 2015). An honour killing only occurs when the violation of this sacred norm is brought to the community’s attention through the use of gossip (Tepperman and Upenieks 2015:15). Once the gossip begins to circulate, the targeted individual’s reputation is slowly undermined and the feelings of shame which threaten the family’s honour and social standing becomes a concern of the entire community (Awwad 2001:45). The perpetuation of gossip is used to keep the family’s shame in the communal consciousness and pressure the family into rectifying it, by eliminating the source of shame which is the individual that has been subjected to gossip (Tepperman and Upenieks 2015:15). In this example, not only does gossip serve to enforce a sacred norm—which members of the community would have been socialized to hold in high regardit also can bring about the excessive


penalty of death. The feelings of shame and guilt are more prominent because they are not only felt by the violator, but by the family and to a certain extent the community. The resulting ridicule that may plague a dishonoured household is also to likely be more palpable as it affects more than one person. Combined, the exaggerated feelings of shame, guilt, and ridicule make gossip more important and effective in this community. Furthermore, gossiping about stories of previous honour killings to girls in a similar social setting would act as a control to ensure they projected the socially acceptable behaviour expected by the community. The combined effect of these two factors creates the optimal social setting for the effective use of gossip as a means of social control. As previously hypothesized, the secondary effects of gossip in these contexts is largely harmful to the individual. The shame and ridicule created by the gossip in the university rowing case, caused the targeted individual to leave the team (Kniffin and Wilson 2005:286). In the honour killing example the target of gossip is murdered. However, the unexpected implication can be found in the strengthened social cohesion experienced by the group after removing the violator. This implication has been highlighted by Gluckman (1936:314) and Dunbar (2004:103) who noted that gossip contributes to a sense of cohesion in groups united by a common objective (such as a team goal or belief system).

CONCLUSION Dunbar and Gluckman’s theories provide useful insight into how the evolution of gossip has contributed to its effectiveness as an agent of social control, both as a learning and enforcement mechanism. As the examples in this essay demonstrate, the effectiveness of gossip as a learning mechanism is conditional, as there is no immediate punishment for failing to learn the norms. On the other hand, gossip is more effective as an enforcement mechanism because it incorporates other forms of social control (shame, guilt and ridicule) to undermine an individual’s reputation and force them to either exit the social setting in order to maintain group cohesion or conform to the norms. While the secondary effects of gossip can be harmful to the individual, its overall effectiveness in maintaining group solidarity and cohesion make it one of the more effective forms of informal control.

References Awwad, Amani. 2001. “Gossip, Scandal, Shame and Honor Killing: A Case for Social Constructionism and Hegemonic Discourse.” Social Thought and Research 42(1):39–52. doi:10.17161/str.1808.5180. Baumeister, Roy F., Liqing Zhang, and Kathleen D. Vohs. 2004. “Gossip as Cultural Learning.” Review of General Psychology 8(2):111–121. doi:10.1037/1089-2680.8.2.111 Black, Donald. 2014. Toward a General Theory of Social Control: Fundamentals, Volume 1. Cambridge, MA: Centre for Criminal Justice. Cherry, Kendra. 2017. “What is Social Exchange Theory in Psychology?” Retrieved March 8, 2017 (https://www.verywell.com/what-is-social-exchange-theory-2795882). Dictionary.com. n.d. “Ridicule.” Retrieved March 12, 2017 (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/ ridicule). Dunbar, Robin. 2004. “Gossip in Evolutionary Perspective.” Review of General Psychology 8(2):100– 110. doi:10.1037/1089-2680.8.2.100. Giardini, Francesca, and Rosaria Conte. 2012. “Gossip for Social Control in Natural and Artificial Societies.” Simulation 88(1):18–32. doi:10.1177/0037549711406912. Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 13


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 14 Gluckman, Max. 1963. “Papers in Honor of Melville J. Herskovits: Gossip and Scandal.” Current Anthropology 4(3):307–316. doi: 10.1086/200378. Grabosky, Peter. 2013. “Regulation by Ridicule: Humorous Denigration as a Regulatory Instrument.” Law, Culture and the Humanities 12(2):373–400. doi:10.1177/1743872113493079 Grosser, Travis., Virginie Lopez-Kidwell., Giuseppe Labianca, and Lea Ellward. 2012. “Hearing It through the Grapevine.” Organizational Dynamics 41(1):52–61. doi:10.1016/j. orgdyn.2011.12.007. Hall, Allan. 2015. “Muslim Parents Who Murdered Their Teenage Daughter in an ‘Honour Killing’ Because She Was Having Sex with a Man They Disapproved of Are Jailed for Life in Germany.” Daily Mail. Retrieved March 12, 2017 (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ article-3342383/Muslim-parents-murdered-teenage-daughter-honour-killing-having-sex-mandisapproved-jailed-life-Germany.html). Izuogu, Victor. 2009. GOSSIP: Causes, Effects and Solutions. Edmonton, AB: Venture Publishing. Retrieved March 12, 2017 (https://books.google.ca/books?id=WGebfJC9pYIC&pg=PA27&lp g=PA27&dq=gossip as a learning mechanism&source=bl&ots=ozzCZUcCwb&sig=S98hIli49 S5PXuqhikSsRyTtk8I&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwji-PaS4t7SAhXIcRQKHSnHDikQ6AEI KTAB#v=onepage&q=gossip%20as%20a%20learning%20mechanism&f=false). Kelly, Jan. 1985. “Storytelling in High Tech Organizations: A Medium for Sharing Culture.” Journal of Applied Communication Research 13(1):45–58. doi:10.1080/00909888509388420. Kniffin, Kevin M. and David Sloan Wilson. 2005. “Utilities of Gossip Across Organizational Levels.” Human Nature 16(3):278–292. doi:10.1007/s12110-005-1011-6. Kurland, Nancy B. and Lisa Hope Pelled. 2000. “Passing the Word: Toward a Model of Gossip and Power in the Workplace.” Academy of Management Review 25(2):428–438. doi:10.5465/ amr.2000.3312928. Tepperman, Lorne and Laura Upenieks. 2016. Social Control. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press. Tripp, Robert. 2015. “Shafia Parents and Son, Convicted in Honour Killing of Four Family Members, Seek New Trial.” National Post. Retrieved March 12, 2017 (http://news.nationalpost.com/ news/canada/shafia-parents-and-son-convicted-in-honour-killing-of-four-family-membersseek-new-trial).


GENDER, SEXUALITY, AND IDENTITY

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THE GAYEST PEOPLE ON EARTH! EXAMINING THE SOCIOCULTURAL AND COGNITIVE FORMATIONS OF GAY IDENTITIES Ezra Blaque

Abstract This essay examines the sociocultural and cognitive formations of gay identity primarily through Adam Isaiah Green’s (2008, 2014) sexual fields framework, along with other social scientific theoreis on identity. In asking how gay identities are formulated, negotiated, and intersubjectively shared between gay men, this essay claims that gay identities have their own internal logics that gay social actors employ in their everyday lives. These internal logics are the rules, norms, and ways of being gay that are specific to particular gay subcultures (bears, twinks, otters, etc.) and may differ across time and place. The essay’s findings suggest that the sexual fields framework highlights the intersubjective nature of gay identities in which gay social actors utilize their sexual repertoire to organize and construct their desires as well as their identities. Moreover, the framework highlights the complexities of gay identities by taking specific gay social sites (re: the sexual field), underscoring the plethora of existing gay identities where gay social actors can belong to different mental communities, creating a distinct social network depending on their position within a (social) field. By recasting the sexual fields framework in this way, this essay illustrates several key themes in the discipline of culture and cognition, and specifically, the study of social identities. Keywords identity, (sexual) capital, (sexual) field, intersubjective, social actor, desire.


How can I tell you? How can I convince you, Brother, Sister, that your life is in danger? That every day you wake up alive, relatively happy, and a functioning human being, you are committing a rebellious act. You as an alive and functioning Queer are a Revolutionary. There is nothing on this planet that validates, protects or encourages your existence. It is a miracle you are reading these words. You should by all rights be dead. Queer Nation Manifesto (1990)

IntrodUCtion As a queer person, I often ask myself, how gay am I really? Why is it that I feel “gayer” when I go to the Church and Wellesley village, compared to when I go to my hometown in Mississauga? Why do I feel the need to deliberately think about my presentation, or my degree of gayness, in heteronormative spaces like work, the doctor’s office, and anywhere else that is not a designated queer (or gay) enclave? Do all gay men feel the same way about their gayness? And why are there a bunch gay subcultures named after animals like “otters,” “silver foxes,” and “bears”? At least one of these questions has been asked by many gay men in their lifetimes, since their gayness plays a large part in defining their overall selfhood. Across the social sciences, the study of identity has been researched for quite some time (Brekhus 2015; DiMaggio 1997). As such, this essay will continue the research on identity by focusing on the construction of gay identity within North America. Throughout the essay, I analyze the intersubjective nature of gay identity, utilizing concepts and theories from sociology and other social science disciplines that demonstrate the social nature of “the self” (cf. Goffman 1959; Mead 1934; Reynolds 2017). That is, any notion of the self, or personal identity, is constructed from a complex mixture of individual thoughts and actions, the social context of a particular time and place, and the social interactions between others. The self therefore relies on this co-constitutive relationship between nature—one’s identity and behavior as biologically determined—and nurture—one’s identity and behaviour as determined by the social environment. This notion makes it is apparent that identity is an ongoing project, one that informs individuals to think (consciously or otherwise) about their own positions within social situations—in relation to their peers and to social institutions. Previous research on identities has also looked at multiple groups and subcultures by focusing on how group identities are formed (Butler 1990, 1993; D’Emilio 1983a, 1983b; DiMaggio 1997; Foucault [1976] 1980; Goffman 1965; Hebdige 1979; Kinsey 1948; Seidman 1996a, 1996b; Weeks 1996). This essay, however, will investigate the intersection of “gayness” and the complex notions of social identity as they apply to gay men’s sense of self. Too often in scholarly literature, gay men’s identities are written as a monolith—that all gay men share the same sense of gayness—or else they are positioned in relation to heterosexual men and women (Calzo et al. 2013; Carper, Negy, and Tantleff-Dunn 2010; Duncan 2010; Farquhar and Wasylkiw 2007; Plummer 1996). These conceptions of gay identities in particular fail to look at the complex nuances and internal logics of gay identities. Therefore, it is imperative to ask, How are gay identities formulated, negotiated, and intersubjectively shared? Put in another way, What it so queer about gay identities? To answer the questions above requires a multidisciplinary approach from various academic fields—specifically the sociology of culture and cognition, social psychology, queer theory, and sexuality studies. One theory that is useful for my investigation on gay identities is the sexual fields framework, pioneered by Adam Isaiah Green (2008, 2014). Using the sexual fields framework, I argue that gay identities have their own internal logics that gay men employ in their everyday lives, whether they are looking for “Mr. Right,” “Mr. Right-now,” non-sexual friendships with other gay men, and/ or a space they can call “home.” These internal logics are the rules, norms, and ways of being gay that Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 17


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 18 are specific to a particular gay subculture (bears, twinks, otters, etc.) and differ across time and place. The remainder of this essay is organized as follows. First, I offer a literature review covering existing academic works on (gay) identities from multiple disciplines. For organizational purposes, the literature review is divided into three subsections: (i) the self and society; (ii) queer theory and gay identity; and (iii) culture, cognition, and identity. The next section will feature an analysis of Green’s (2008, 2014) sexual fields framework. I will first outline two key concepts of this framework—sexual field and sexual capital—and then link those concepts to some important themes in the sociology of culture and cognition—Bourdieu’s field theory and notions capital (1984, 1990), Swidler’s toolkit (1986, 2001), and schema theory (D’Andrade 1995). After my analysis, I will offer a brief interpretation of my findings in a discussion section. To conclude, I consider the implications of these findings for the study of culture and cognition in addition to providing some final remarks.

LITERATURE REVIEW The Self and Society Perhaps the most effective approach to studying identity (in the general sense) is utilizing a symbolic interactionist perspective. This perspective relies on, “[symbolic] meanings as social products, as creations that are formed in and through the defining activities of people as they interact” (Blumer [1969] 1986:5). Writing about how the self and society are co-constitutive, Charles H. Cooley ([1902] 1922:151–3) introduces the concept of the looking glass self. This renowned theory is broken down into three components: (i) our imagination of how we appear to others, (ii) our interpretation of the judgment of others, based on our appearances, and (iii) our self-feelings—the internalization of how others perceive us. For Cooley, the concept of the self is embedded within the minds of members of a particular society: one can only obtain any notion of a self-identity through the reflected perceptions of others. Another key thinker in the symbolic interactionist tradition is George H. Mead (1934). In his book Mind, Self, and Society, Mead (1934) asserts the following: The self is something which has a development; it is not initially there, at birth, but arises in the process of social experience and activity, that is, develops in a given individual as a result of his relations to that process as a whole and to other individuals within that process. (P. 135) For Mead, the self is a process that involves an individual who is active in the social world and in their interactions with others. This process is demonstrated through what Mead calls the conversation of gestures, through which meaning is created. Mead’s concept of the self, in this sense, falls in line with Cooley’s concept of the looking-glass self, as both thinkers would agree that the self cannot be understood without the influence of society and its members (cf. Reynolds 2017). However, Mead, adds to Cooley’s analysis that meaning is both subjective and objective using the concepts of the “I” and the “Me”—the “Me” being the (objective) internalization of the generalized other (self-consciousness) and the “I” being the (subjective) response of the self to the attitudes of the generalized other. Mead’s concepts would eventually go on to inspire other social thinkers researching the self and society. Among these thinkers is Erving Goffman. In The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Goffman (1959) utilizes a dramaturgical approach to explain the phenomenon of the self, postulating that individuals are social actors, analogous to actors performing on a theatre stage. The self, according to Goffman (1959:2–4,6), is dependent on


the social context and what he calls “the definition of the situation.”1 This approach underscores the strategic characteristics of the self, in that individuals will (automatically and deliberately) maintain a particular identity depending on the social context, and the “audience” within that context. Similarly, Stigma, another text by Goffman (1963), explores how stigmatized individuals strategically deploy and manage their “spoiled Identities” in particular social contexts to minimize their apparent deviance and avoid any physical and/or emotional harm from others. Stigma is particularly useful for the study of gay identities, in that gay men (and other members of the LGBTQ2SI2 community) face stigma and discrimination based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity/expression. The works of Mead, Goffman, and Cooley offer a relational concept of identity, in that individuals conceive a concept of a self through face-to-face interactions with others in specific social contexts. The symbolic interactionist perspective would then take gay male identities as a social process that is governed by particular social contexts within heteronormative institutions (see Plummer 1996). The following section will focus on queer theory, an academic discipline that dedicates its research to the study of sexuality, gender, queer/trans identities, and the (de)construction of heteronormative institutions.

Queer Theory and Gay Identity Despite the fact that most academic literature on homosexuality has been written after the 1960s, the study of sexual identities—particularly gay-male identities—has been examined long before that. In fact, many of the scholarly texts on homosexuality tend to utilize a social constructionist perspective, analyzing sexuality as a continuum rather than as a natural given (Adam [1987] 1995; Brekhus 2003, 2015; Butler 1990, 1993; D’Emilio 1983a, 1983b; Foucault [1976] 1980; Kinsey 1948; Seidman 1996a, 1996b; Weeks 1996). In the introductory chapter of Queer Theory/ Sociology, Seidman (1996b) writes that the discipline of queer theory views identity as: [...]multiple or at best composites with literally an infinite number of ways in which ‘identitycomponents’3…can intersect and combine. Any specific identity construction, moreover, is arbitrary, unstable, and exclusionary. Identity constructions necessarily entail the silencing or exclusion of some experiences or forms of life…Queer theorists view [identity] as disciplinary and regulatory structures…excluding a range of possible ways to frame the self, body, desires, actions, and social relations. (P. 11–2)4 Seidman’s description of queer theory highlights the socially constructed nature of identity in which identity is seen as a social process that employs diversity rather than singularity. This view of identity takes inspiration from the French post-structuralist tradition of the twentieth century, whose most 1 The collective (subjective) understanding of what will happen in a given situation and which actor will play which role in the action. 2 This version of the LGBTQ acronym includes Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two (2) Spirit, and Intersex communities. 3 Seidman (1996a:11) uses the examples of sexual orientation, race, class, nationality, gender, age, and able-ness. 4 It is worth acknowledging that Seidman would detect some anti-identity rhetoric in queer theory; however, the discipline attempts to highlight the possibility for a multitude of identities a single actor can adopt. Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 19


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 20 prominent figure was Michel Foucault ([1976] 1980).5 In the first of three volumes on The History of Sexuality, Foucault ([1976] 1980:49) claims that the homosexual was created through an explosion of social discourse governed by centres of power.6 He asserts this notion by dedicating an entire section to the “repressive hypothesis”—the belief in twentieth-century western culture that sexuality was socially repressed from the late seventieth to the early twentieth centuries. For Foucault, sexuality was in fact not repressed, but rather obsessively discussed (publicly) through the centres of power. In other words, sexuality was given to the hands of the church, medical practitioners—particularly psychiatry—and the state, regulating what is sexually permissible and possible; what is and what is not sexual: As defined by the ancient civil or canonical codes…The nineteenth-century homosexual became a personage, a past, a case history, and a childhood, in addition to being a type of… life form…Nothing that went into his total composition was unaffected by his sexual actions… because it was a secret that always gave itself away. (Foucault [1976] 1980:43) Here, Foucault acknowledges the socially constructed nature of sexual identities, claiming that they are products of multiple social discourses that attempt to naturalize and limit what is (sexually) possible, rather than being a natural, unified form. Foucault’s constructionist thesis of the homosexual went on to inspire a number of queer theorists, notably John D’Emilio (1983a,1983b) and David Halperin (2012). D’Emilio conceptualizes Foucault’s notions of the homosexual in a political-economic stance. Similar to Foucault, D’Emilio asserts that the homosexual is a product of history that emerged “with the relations of capitalism” (1983b:468). For D’Emilio, the development of capitalism—particularly its free market system—allowed men (and women) to see themselves as gay, forming pre-gay social networks (PGNs). The development of capitalism, after the second world war (WWII), forced individuals out of small, rural cities and placed them in urban centers where PGNs were present. Men were exposed to these PGNs, through which they could meet other homosexuals in bars and bathhouses to engage in a homosexual lifestyle. Moreover, D’Emilio claims that urbanization and capitalism separated sexuality from the heteronormative institution of the family. He writes, “affection, intimate relationships, and sexuality moved increasingly into the realm of individual choice” (1983a:11). This shift helped to create network structures beyond the nuclear family, providing gay men (and women) with a sense of belonging, support, and community (1983b:475). These PGNs would eventually allow gay men (and women) to form a collective conscious of sorts. Bars, bathhouses, and other urban spaces became the meeting places for homosexuals to meet others like them, solidifying a sense of a collectively shared identity. Unfortunately, this underground utopia came to the attention of heteronormative institutions, which condemned homosexuals for the breakdown of the nuclear family.7 Eventually, this blatant homophobia would lead feminists and homosexuals to fight back, forming the gay and lesbian liberation movement (Adam [1987] 1995). Although North American politics played a large role in forming gay (re: queer) identities, it is important to question if sexual identities are solely sexual and/or political in nature. Halperin would argue otherwise. In his book How to be Gay, David Halperin (2012) suggests that gay identities (or gayness 5 Of course, I reference Foucault as the most prominent figure of (homo)sexual identities in French post-structuralism. 6 These include the state, the church, medical institutions, demography, psychiatry, etc. 7 Although the true culprit, according to D’Emilio, was Capitalism.


are much more than a political sexual identity. Rather, gayness may be seen as a cultural practice, a specific way of being that gay men must learn from each other in order to (i) become gay and (ii) acquire a gay sensibility. Overall, Halperin (2012) attempts to illuminate the pragmatics of gay male culture in addition to describing the, “forms of subjective experience, or the collective structures of feeling [emphasis added]” (P. 136). In other words, rather than focusing on the kinds of people, Halperin focuses on the kinds of discourse and interactions that people (regardless of sexual orientation) engage in when participating in gay culture. Despite the fact that Halperin is a (cultural) historian, I would argue that his focus on gay culture in this fashion falls within the frameworks of the sociology of culture and cognition. Halperin (2012:135) is aware of the intersubjective nature of culture “as a practice, not a kind of person”; delineating gay culture as a supraindividual phenomenon (DiMaggio 1997). However, one sexually identifies, gay culture can be treated like any other culture, one with its own set of practices, codes, and way of life that is intersubjectively shared among social actors.

Culture, Cognition, and Identity As mentioned in the introduction, identity has become an active field of research in the sociology of culture and cognition (DiMaggio 1997). It is a concept that touches on many other areas in the sociology of culture and cognition such as perception, classification and categorization, boundary work, collectivity, and meaning making (Brekhus 2015). Paul DiMaggio (1997:274) outlines two kinds of collective identity. On the one hand, there is the identities of the collectives—“a shared representation of a collectivity” at the supraindividual level. Research at this level, according to DiMaggio (1997:274–5), views identities as highly constructed and chronically contested, “as groups vie to produce social representations capable of evoking schemata favorable to their ideal or material interest”. The second kind of collective identity is called the collective elements in individual identities—the complexities “in which social identities enter into the constitution of individual selves” (DiMaggio 1997:275). This view of collective identity reflects the “elaborated group-identity schemata,” by illuminating the context-dependent nature of identities (DiMaggio 1997:275). The latter view can be traced back to Goffman’s analysis of identity as a strategic tool or resource that is developed and managed across different social contexts (Brekhus 2015). Following the culture and cognition perspective is Wayne H. Brekhus (2015), who dedicates an entire chapter to identity in his book Culture and Cognition. In this chapter, Brekhus (2015:112) notes three different types of identity construction: (i) identity authenticity—the strategies that members utilize to establish rules and commitments to an identity; (ii) identity multidimensionalism— intersecting collective identities that individuals negotiate and organize in their individual identities; and (iii) identity mobility—an individual’s ability to shift, adapt, and move between identities across social contexts. Of particular interest for this essay is Brekhus’ work on gay-male identities from his book Peacocks, Chameleons, Centaurs (2003). In this ethnographic extravaganza, Brekhus (2015:117) analyzes how gay men in suburban cities managed their gay identity and developed three distinct categories—(i) gay-identity lifestyles (peacocks), (ii) gay-identity commuters (chameleons), and (iii) gay-identity integrators (centaurs). To clarify, peacocks are gay men who organize their marked gayness as a noun that defines them, live in gay enclaves, and demonstrate a gay-disposition. Chameleons however are gay men who utilize their gayness as a mobile verb, live in “unmarked” (heteronormative8) spaces and travel to gay enclaves to activate their identities and code-switch their 8 Heteronormative is used here because what is unmarked, relative to gay identities, would be seen as heteronormative. Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 21


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 22 disposition to match the social setting (Brekhus 2015:117; cf. Brekhus 2003). And finally, centaurs include those gay men who organize their gayness as an adjective, live in integrated, heteronormative (unmarked) spaces, challenge identity authenticity, have a large, unmarked social network, and value a multidimensional balance of varying identity attributes. Berkus’ categories demonstrate how gay men strategically “organize their identity in relation to a meaningful or marked social attribute”—the social attribute here being gay (Brekhus 2015:117). Thus, these identity categories may offer gay men different options to manage their gayness. However, deciding which tool is appropriate for identity management is highly contested because gay men have differing views and opinions on how gayness should be displayed (Brekhus 2003:98–113, 2015:117). Brekhus’ outline of the gay-identity types is found in Eviatar Zerubavel’s9 fourth chapter in Social Mindscapes (1997:53–67) in that much of identity-work is boundary work. When analyzing social identities, it is important to note that categories and classifications play an integral role in identity construction. Zerubavel posits that social actors carve the world into conventional islands of meaning wherein different cultures carve out the same social reality into different enclaves. Relating back to Brekhus, the different types of gay-identity constructions are like different gay-islands of meaning. These gay-islands act as roadmaps for gay social actors by helping them define who they are, and their opinion(s) of gay social life, in relation to others. In carving out these gay-islands of meaning, Brekhus effectively demonstrated the different types of gay men (peacocks, chameleons, and centaurs) as having their own internal logics of gayness and gay culture by “actively sculpting islands of meaning rather than simply identifying already-existing natural ones” (Zerubavel 1997:67). Therefore, classifications and categories are social mechanisms in which social actors make distinctions in their everyday life (for example, what is gay and what is not). These distinctions are made in order for social actors to obtain a better understanding themselves (in relation to others) while preserving as much cognitive energy as possible (cf. Rosch 1978). As shown in this review, the topic of (gay) identity is one that is rich in content from a multitude of academic subjects. The next section will analyze Green’s sexual fields framework while making parallels to Bourdieu’s concepts of field theory and capital (1984, 1990), Swidler’s toolkit (1986, 2001), and schema theory (D’Andrade 1995).

ANALYSIS: UTILIZING THE SEXUAL FIELDS FRAMEWORK Omar Lizardo (2014:vii) writes in the forward of Sexual Fields: Toward a Sociology of Collective Sexual Life that, “if social theory is to make progress in explaining why persons are motivated to do what they do, then we must come to terms with desire”, declaring the sexual field to be the site of analysis where sociologists and other scholars of sexual/social life can find the organization of desire. The sexual fields framework is a concept proposed by Green (2008, 2014) that analyzes collective sexual life—the domain of social life that includes the interactions and spaces (online and offline)10 that facilitate intimate relationships between partners. This means that collective social life, as a unit of analysis, includes participants, networks, institutions and subcultures—the sites in which intimate partnerships are formed (Green 2014:26). Green states that the rise of sex positive culture, the dismantling of institutional control of sexual life, the rise of new communication technologies, and the demographic shifts in modernity make sexual life more autonomous and 9 It is worthy to note that Brekhus was once a student of Eviatar Zerubavel. 10 These spaces include, but are not limited to, dating websites like Grindr and/or Tinder (see Jaspal 2016), internet chatrooms, blogs, threads, bedrooms, bars, nightclubs, coffee houses, and, yes, even public toilets.


specialized than ever before, setting the stage for an analysis of socio-sexual life.

The Sexual Field According to Green (2014), the sexual field “emerges when a subset of actors with potential romantic or sexual interest orient themselves toward one another according to a logic of desirability imminent to their collective relations… [producing] a system of stratification (2014:27). Sexual fields are found in particular social sites (bars, chatrooms, etc.) in which these sites offer “sign vehicle[s],”—the atmosphere and décor of a particular social space, the meanings attached to the space, etc.—for gay men to communicate with one another, establishing a “sexual status order”11 (Green 2014: 37, 50). Moreover, these sites are inhabited by social actors who come into a (sexual) field with overlapping tastes and aesthetic appreciations [erotic habitus (Green 2014:36–43)] that aggregate to form collective systems of judgement and appreciation—the structures of desire.12 To put it differently, when people with a potential interest in each other are brought together in a certain social space, their desires are made collective and aggregated, creating a particular structure of desire within a field. Moreover, sexual fields are characterized by a “patterned visibility in the patronage base of a given site” (Green 2014:28), To illustrate this concept, Green (2014:28) uses the example of martini bars, in which one bar is populated by gay men in their thirties, and another is populated by gay men in their fifties. For Green, these two martini bars, albeit both comprising of a gaggle of gay men sipping on martinis and other alcoholic beverages, should be considered as two distinct sexual fields, each having their own logics and codes for socialization and unique sexual circuits.13 Green’s concept of the sexual field takes inspiration from Bourdieu’s (1984, 1990) theories and concepts of the (general) field. Both are abstract concepts that are not a priori and have a relatively autonomous nature from the larger social context. Green’s sexual field also follows Bourdieu’s theory with the notion of erotic habitus; the sexual field having a sexual schema for perception and action. As shown in the martini bar example above, sexual fields have their own distinct logics and structure, delineating a particular kind of patronage within the fields themselves. In relation to gay identities, the martini bar will attract gay men from a particular class background in which these men will look and act a certain way and engage in particular conversations. Therefore, the kinds of conversations and gestures that gay men engage in is heavily dependent on the erotic habitus and structures of desire within a particular sexual field. From the culture and cognition perspective, Swidler’s (1986) tool kit and D’Andrade’s (1995) interpretation of schema theory also apply to the sexual fields framework. This is especially true when looking at the ways in which sexual fields shape desire. Green (2014:38) postulates that there are three ways in which sexual fields shape desire: via the popularity tournament, subcultural process of amplification and intensification, and socialization. The popularity tournament highlights how desirability is shaped by, and is thus, in part, a field effect—“those initially deemed as desirable become more so, and, conversely, those deemed less desirable become even less so” (Green 2014:39). For example, a gay man is deemed (more or less) desirable based on their measurement of another’s popularity while assessing their own sexual capital relative to their peers. The subcultural process of amplification and intensification sees sexual attitudes and interests being aggregated through an amplification process, consolidating a structure of desire (Green 2014:41). The most important of the three forms is the socialization process. Overtime, 11 As per Green (2014:50), it is important to note that “the sexual status order is subject to change as actors with varying degrees of sexual capital cycle in and out of a given site.” 12 In other words, structures of desire delineate the collective definition of what is desirable. 13 Social networks of individual players in a specific sexual site. Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 23


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 24 gay men will develop a certain taste (erotic habitus) in a particular social field through assimilation and internalization. Gay men assimilate to a certain kind of desire and internalize those desires to make them their own. D’Andrade’s (1995) schema theory is relevant here in that gay individuals will develop a pattern of organized thought (or frameworks) through a process of repeated exposure to a certain field until they internalize those desires, developing a schema. This processing can be delineated with gay men who identify with and frequent Leatherman-spaces. Peter Hennen (2008; Green 2014:40) took on an ethnographic study of Leatherman bars and found that gay social actors can learn how to be doms14 or subs15 by assimilating to Leatherman culture—done through (repeated) practices within the Leatherman sexual field until they are internalized. Green (2014) writes: Over time, novitiates gain increasing appreciation for the pleasure in pain, learning how to eroticize particular acts of dominance and submission… exposure to the field produces a socialization effect whereby individuals become familiar with, assimilate to, and eroticize more deeply its logic, until the desire itself appears natural, automatic, and second nature. (P. 40) Here, we can see Swidler’s (1986) toolkit playing out in the field. Actors will develop a kind of repertoire that they can utilize in a given context (or field). To follow the example above, the Leatherman culture has a powerful causal influence on an individual’s action when it is structured and given force by other processes—codes, contexts, and institutions—that organize cultural meanings and bring them to bear (Swidler 2001:161). Swidler would suggest that one develops a repertoire of skills that depends on the codes and contexts of a field. After learning the “do’s and don’ts” of a field, one will automatically16 know how to act (and play) with other Leatherfolk, as the codes of the specific context have been internalized within one’s schema. In summary, sexual fields depict a level of autonomy from the broader social structure and individual dispositions (Bourdieu 1984, 1990) as they construct desirability and sexual repertoires (Swidler 2001), “through the collectivization” of individual desires, attitudes, and the, “subsequent processes of socialization, amplification, intensification, and transformation (Green 2014:43).

Sexual Capital Another key concept in Green’s sexual fields framework is the notion of sexual capital. This form of capital, like Bourdieu’s forms of capital,17 is “associated with an individual’s location in a sexual social structure” (Green 2014:48) while marking the degree of desirability within the sexual field. Sexual capital is composed of three important aspects: (i) physicality—one’s physical appearance, face, body, height, weight, skin colour, etc., (ii) affect—the bodily gestures18 of masculinity and femininity that one communicates to others in a sexual field, and lastly (iii) the presentation of style—the kinds of clothing and/or accessories one wears, how one’s hair is done, 14 A term referring to a sexual (dis)position within BDSM. The Dom is the dominant partner. 15 A term referring to a sexual (dis)position within BDSM. The Sub is the subordinate partner. 16 These automatic actions are unconscious actions in that one does not deliberately think or give much thought to one’s actions. Rather, these tools for action are drawn out from individuals based on the present codes, contexts, and institutions. 17 Economic, social, cultural, and symbolic. 18 These gestures include how one crosses their legs, the way they walk, position their hands when they speak, etc. The stereotypical gay-limp-wrist comes to mind.


the condition of one’s skin, or whether or not a piece of clothing eventuates one’s tight muscles, lean torso, or other body parts. The combination of these aspects not only confer an erotic value, but also constitute a type of currency for sexual capital. For example, a young twenty-something, muscular, white, good-looking man would have the upper hand at Woody’s, a bar in Toronto with a diverse patronage. Furthermore, as a form of capital, sexual capital is also transferable to the other existing forms of capital. One can utilize their degree of desirability to maintain their social position within a sexual field or transfer this desirability to gain financial benefits (economic capital) (Green 2014). It is important to note, however, that as a form of capital, sexual capital is field dependent. For example, a twink19 may have a great deal of sexual capital in Crews and Tangos,20 but may not have as high of a status when going to The Black Eagle21 compared to a Leather Daddy.22 In this way, sexual capital, according to Green, is seen both as the property of a particular field and as the property of the individual. Taken together, Green’s sexual fields framework is a fascinating concept that highlights the structures and social processes that are associated with both collective social life and sexual stratification. Moreover, the framework seeks to promote sociological thinking about sexual-social contexts where desire and the degree of desirability are significant.

Discussion As I demonstrated above, the sexual fields framework offers a pertinent explanation for one to better understand gay identities in the perspective of culture and cognition. From this perspective, one can observe the collective nature of gay life, in which gay men have a sexual repertoire full of tools to organize and construct their desires in relation to their identities. Although it may seem that gay men go about their sexual lives in individual, unorganized fashions, the sexual fields framework positions gay identity as being a strategic resource for gay men to socialize with other gay men and better understand themselves in relation to where they are positioned in a field. This framework also helps one grasp the complexities of gay identities by carving out specific social spaces, each with its own codes and logics that define specific norms and values. These logics help gay newcomers enter a sexual field (whether that be a leather bar, a sports bar, a gay coffee house, or club) and learn how to become the person they want to be. What is more rewarding, however, is that the sexual fields framework highlights the plethora of existing gay identities, through which an individual can belong to different mental communities, creating a system or web of gay affiliations (Zerubavel 1997). The sexual fields framework highlights almost all the themes in the discipline of culture and cognition. This Bourdieusian-inspired concept looks at how boundaries and classifications distinguish what is gay from what is not gay, what constitutes a leather bar from a dance hall. Within these fields, individuals get a sense of how to be a certain type of gay by internalizing the contextual codes and logics specific to that field, engaging in the particular kinds of practices and appreciating certain kinds of aesthetics. Indeed, by highlighting the intersubjective nature of sexuality, the sexual fields framework locates gay identities as reflections of the causal relationship that culture has on individuals and groups. 19 A young, skinny or toned gay man, who is usually more effeminate with little to no body hair. 20 A Toronto bar in the Church and Wellesley village with a diverse patronage. 21 Another Toronto bar in the Church and Wellesley village, but catered to patrons who have a leather fetish or other S/M kinks. 22 An older, muscular and/or larger man with a fetish for leather and S/M practices who is usually more masculine and hairy. Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 25


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 26

CONCLUSION With an expansive repertoire of ideas and research from across multiple disciplines, this paper examined the construction of gay identities within North America to conceptualize how the sexual fields framework can help explain the intersubjective nature of gay male identities. To achieve this end, I took the sexual fields framework and analysed it utilizing a multidisciplinary approach from various academic fields such as the sociology of culture and cognition, social psychology, queer theory and sexuality studies. I found that the sexual fields framework offered useful concepts and resources to better understand gay identities in the sociocultural and cognitive perspective. This framework also looked at the intersubjective nature of gay identities in which gay men utilize their sexual repertoire to organize and construct their desires as well as their identities. Moreover, the sexual fields framework highlights the complexities of gay identities by taking specific gay social sites (re: the sexual field) and analyzing the unique codes and internal logics that help to define specific norms and values. These internal logics are integral for gay men to embody in order to successfully navigate a particular sexual field. Furthermore, sexual fields highlight the plethora of existing gay identities in which an individual can belong to different mental communities, thus creating a distinct social network depending on their position in the field. Lastly, the framework touches on key themes in the discipline of culture and cognition by highlighting intersubjective nature of gay identities. The subdiscipline of culture and cognition continues to expand within the field of sociology. It is a school of thought that analyzes the intersubjective intricacies of collective social life—this is true for the study of identities. The study of identity can be expanded from a number of social factors such as race, ethnicity, and gender. It would be beneficial for other researchers in the subdiscipline of culture and cognition to continue using a Bourdieusian approach to study the various types of identities that exists within a culture. This approach will help formulate a multitude of possibilities for understanding the nuances of social identities—possibilities that are seemingly boundless.

Acknowledgments For helping me produce my first published article, I want to give tremendous thanks to Professor Vanina Leschziner, who introduced to me to the sociological subdiscipline of culture and cognition. Since taking Professor Leschziner’s course on the sociolgy of everyday life (SOC388H1) back in the fall semester of 2016, I have been inspired to continue my academic endeavours on the intricacies of social life. By offering her intellect, guidance, support and critiques, Professor Leschziner has become a remarkable mentor to me. I hope to take her wisdom with me throughout my academic and professional career. Thank you Professor Leschziner, for believing in me. I would also like to thank my friends and family for giving me the emotional support needed to complete this (and other) academic work(s).

References Adam, Barry. [1987] 1995. The Rise of a Gay and Lesbian Movement. New York: Twayne Publishers. Blumer, Herbert. [1969] 1986. Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective and Method. Berkley, CA: University of California Press. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1984. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ------. 1990. The Logic of Practice. Stanford: Stanford University Press.


Brekhus, Wayne H. 2003. Peacocks, Chameleons, Centaurs: Gay Suburbia and the Grammar of Social Identity. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press. ------. 2015. Culture and Cognition: Patterns in the Social Construction of Reality. Malden, MA: Polity Press. Butler, Judith. 1990. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge. ------. 1993. Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex”. New York: Routledge. Calzo, J. P., Heather L. Corliss, Emily A. Blood, Alison E. Field, and S. Bryn Austin. 2013. “Development of Muscularity and Weight Concerns in Heterosexual and Sexual Minority Males. Health Psychology 32(1):42–51. Carper, T. L. M., Charles Negy, and Stacey Tantleff-Dunn. 2010. “Relations Among Media Influence, Body Image, Eating Concerns, and Sexual Orientation in Men: A Preliminary Investigation.” Body Image 7(4):301–309. Cooley, Charles H. [1902] 1922. Human Nature and Social Order. New York: Scribner’s, cited in Larry T. Reynolds. 2017. “Cooley and Mead on Human Nature and Society.” Pp. 57–65 in Social Theory: Classical and Contemporary – A Critical Perspective, edited by Berch Berberoglu. New York: Routledge. D. Andrade, Roy G. 1995. The Development of Cognitive Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. D’Emilio, John. 1983a. Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ------. 1983b. “Capitalism and Gay Identity.” Pp. 467–476 in Henry Abelove, Michele Aina Barale, and David Halperin (eds.) The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader. DiMaggio, Paul. 1997. “Culture and Cognition,” Annual Review of Sociology 23(1997):263–287. Duncan, D. 2010. “Embodying the Gay Self: Body Image, Reflexivity, and Embodied Identity. Health Sociology Review 19(4):437–450. Farquhar, J. C. and Louise Wasylkiw.2007. “Media Images of Men: Trends and Consequences of Body Conceptualization. Psychology of Men & Masculinity 8(3):145–160. Foucault, Michel. [1976] 1980. The History of Sexuality: An Introduction. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. France, David. 2016. How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS. New York: Signal. Goffman, Erving. 1959. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Anchor Books. ------. 1965. Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. New York: Touchstone. Green, Adam Isaiah. 2008. “The Social Organization of Desire: The Sexual Fields Approach.” Sociological Theory 26(1):25–50. ------. 2014. “Chapter 1: The Sexual Fields Framework” Pp. 25–56 in Sexual Fields: Toward a Sociology of Collective Sexual Life, edited by Adam Isaiah Green. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. New York: Routledge. Halperin, David M. 2012. How to be Gay. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press. Hebdige, Dick. 1979. Subculture: The Meaning of Style. New York: Routledge. Hennen, Peter. 2008. Faeries, Bears, and Leathermen: Gay Men in Community Queering the Masculine. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, cited in Adam Isaiah Green. 2008. “The Social Organization of Desire: The Sexual Fields Approach.” Sociological Theory 26(1):25– 50. Kinsey, Alfred. 1948. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders. Mead, George H. 1934. Mind, Self, and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Plummer, Ken. 1996. “Symbolic Interactionism and the Forms of Homosexuality” Pp. 64–82 in Queer Theory/Sociology edited by Steven Seidman. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 27


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 28 Queer Nation Manifesto. 1990. New Haven, Conn.:Beloved Disciple Press. Rosch, Eleanor. 1978. “Principles of Categorization.” Pp. 27–48. in Eleanor Rosch and Barbara Lloyd (eds.) Cognition and Categorization. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Seidman, Steven. 1996a. Queer Theory/Sociology. Cambridge, MA; Oxford, UK: Blackwell. ------. 1996b. “Introduction” in Queer Theory/Sociology, edited by Steven Seidman. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. Swidler, Ann. 1986. “Culture in Action: Symbols and Strategies.” American Sociological Review 51(2):273–86. ------. 2001. Talk of Love: How Culture Matters. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Weeks, Jeffery. 1996. “The Construction of Homosexuality.” Pp. 41–63 in Steven Seidman (ed.) Queer Theory/Sociology. Cambridge, MA; Oxford, UK: Blackwell. Zerubavel, Eviatar. 1997. Social Mindscapes: An Invitation to Cognitive Sociology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


MANSPREADING: THE GENDERED OCCUPATION OF SPACE AND ITS IMPLICATIONS Tarini Date

Abtract In this paper, I examine gender norms, specifically those surrounding the occupation of space. This piece is the result of an informal sociological experiment in which I “manspread” on the subway in Toronto, breaking female/feminine-gender norms, observed and made note of people’s reaction to my norm violation. By analyzing people’s reactions to my gender-norm violation, I explore how gender and gendered norms are constructed, manifested and embodied in society. In doing so, I engage with the seminal work of Candace West and Don H. Zimmerman within subfield of gender in sociology, “Doing Gender” ([1987] 2015) amongst others, to illustrate how behaviours such as comportment are not only gendered but are also a part of the self- and member-policing mechanisms operating throughout society that reify gender inequality. In my conclusion, I depart from the thinking of West and Zimmerman, to argue that equitable gender relations can be achieved through the decoupling of gendered ways of being from biology and physiology in dominant discourse.

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Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 30 It was just after noon on the subway. It was relatively busy, populated with a diverse mix of people: families, young people, people travelling alone, and couples of all ages. As I got onto the train, I took a deep breath to calm myself and found a place to sit. I took my seat and spread my legs wide, with my feet on the ground tucked under my legs and my crotch on full display. I took up not only my own seat but also most of the seat next to me. As the Oxford Dictionaries (2017) defines it, I was manspreading. In doing so, I violated a fundamental gender norm: the appropriate occupation of space. Gender norms can be described as socially constructed mandated ways of behaving that are differentiated on the basis of gender (West and Zimmerman [1987] 2015). Gender is assumed to be based on a person’s phenotypic representation, which is thought to indicate a person’s sex in any number of given situations (West and Zimmerman [1987] 2015). These gender norms are unwritten scripts that are learnt through the process of socialization (La Touche 2017). Critically, gender norms are thought of as natural ways of behaving, the result of the different physiologies of the sexes (West and Zimmerman [1987] 2015; Lorber [1993] 2015). In reality, these differences in physiology between males and females are meaningless until society transforms them into social facts (West and Zimmerman [1987] 2015; Lorber [1993] 2015). In this paper, I explain why my manspreading was a violation of gender norms; how my experience of breaking these norms illustrates what West and Zimmerman ([1987] 2015) describe as gender accountability; and most critically, how manspreading has ramifications far beyond how space is occupied—notably, it has important implications for the nature of gender inequality. Manspreading is a norm amongst men that is taught during childhood. Through socialization, it establishes itself firmly in the subconscious scripts of masculinity and appropriate masculine behaviour. As West and Zimmerman ([1987] 2015:41) explain, men, appropriate the gender ideal of “efficaciousness”—the ability to affect both one’s physical and social surroundings through the use of strength or the appropriate skills for the given situation—as young boys. When applied in concert with West and Zimmerman’s ([1987] 2015) assertion that men display their greater size (i.e. by occupying large amounts of space on the subway and by the size of space occupied) as compared to both women and other men, it becomes clear that manspreading is a norm. It allows for men affect their physical surroundings, not through the direct show of strength, but rather through the appropriate display of size—specifically, the size of the space they occupy (West and Zimmerman [1987] 2015). This learnt behaviour becomes enshrined in the psyche of young boys through socialization and self-regulation (West and Zimmerman [1987] 2015:42). Due to the dichotomous nature of gender, the occupation of space—like all gender norms— mandates that women not behave like men (Lorber [1993] 2015; West and Zimmerman [1987] 2015). Young girls are taught to occupy as little space as possible. In fact, women are expected to appreciate the displays of space occupation by men (West and Zimmerman [1987] 2015:39). This explains why a woman violates a gender norm when she manspreads (West and Zimmerman [1987] 2015). [It is important to note that gender is correctly achieved by behaving in socially established genderappropriate ways during everyday interactions (West and Zimmerman [1987] 2015). In the context of manspreading, the interactional nature of gender means that my manspreading is transformed into a violation of gender norms only when people are around to witness it. As I sat fully “manspread” on the subway, a number of people around me noticed, and I received some very pointed responses from both women and men. At first, almost all of the people who noticed seemed to be perplexed at the sight of me. Perplexity turned into visible discomfort with my position. Some people pointedly did not look in my direction; others smiled, seeming to find it funny. These responses appeared to illustrate discomfort: discomfort because there was a cognitive disconnect between my actions and people’s implicitly understood gender norms for women. In other


words, people were uncomfortable because I was acting in an unwomanly—and therefore, a manly way. Those around me were not able to understand this, due to the essentialized nature of gender norms. To these people, by manspreading, I appeared to be going against my natural, biologically and psychologically hardwired way of being a woman (West and Zimmerman [1987] 2015). In addition to the passive responses of avoidance and smiling, some men actively confronted my action. Upon seeing me manspreading, they sat down and spread their legs even wider than mine, as if to say, “I can impose my presence here better than you. I can take up more space than you.” This response is particularly interesting: not only does it indicate visible discomfort with regard to my deviation from women’s “natural” way of occupying space, but it also illustrates a need to outdo my performance. Those men needed to demonstrate that they were capable of taking up more space than me, and to show that they, as men, could dominate their surroundings to a greater degree than me, a woman. Or perhaps it was an attempt to assert their real manliness in the face of my “unnatural manliness.” This illustrates that the way in which we take up space is underscored by many gendered cultural and social norms, even though it may seem innate and natural. If the occupation of space was indeed something that did not need to be taught and naturalized, my manspreading would not have elicited such responses. One reaction, in particular, deserves special attention. An older woman came onto the train and sat down on a seat perpendicular to me. At first, like most others, she simply looked perplexed at my position. Then, she made eye contact with me, leaned over, and whispered, “Ladies don’t sit like that.” Flabbergasted, I simply smiled, kept my legs spread and avoided further eye contact with her. This is illustrative of gender accountability, a process by which individuals publically regulate their behaviour in order to ensure they are correctly enacting norms corresponding to their gender, so as to avoid any social repercussions if they violate these norms (West and Zimmerman [1987] 2015). As I was clearly violating women’s gender norms, I was held accountable for my transgression. Gender accountability is an extremely effective mechanism of policing gender and maintaining gender norms. Since individual members of society point out and reprimand their fellow members’ gender transgressions, larger meso and macro institutions do not need to be involved in this monitoring, and gender is effectively self-policed (West and Zimmerman [1987] 2015). Gender accountability makes it all the more difficult to challenge gender norms because individuals performing gender in nonnormative ways face public correction. This can be daunting, and fear of another public reprimand may lead individuals to simply accept and acquiesce to the norms West and Zimmerman [1987] 2015). I must admit, even though I was manspreading for the sole purpose of observing others’ reactions, it was quite embarrassing to be told that my position made me less womanly. Manspreading and how space is occupied have important implications beyond the allotment and use of space. Physical space is yet another arena in which domination and subordination play out and perpetuate the subordination of women by men (West and Zimmerman [1987] 2015). West and Zimmerman ([1987] 2015:44) describe the process of doing gender as “doing dominance” for men and “doing deference” for women. This holds true for the occupation of space. By occupying more space than required, men show a twofold dominance: they exert dominance over the physical space that they occupy, and they exert dominance over the women with whom they are sharing the space. Men dominate women because they take as much space as they please without regard for the space left for women. It is as if they believe that space is theirs to occupy, and they are allowing women to exist only in the space that is left by them. Women occupy space in a manner opposite to men. They sit with their legs closed (maybe even crossed?), taking up as little space as possible, and being conscious of the space that others occupy. In this way, women show deference to men. It is as if women are expected to occupy as little space as possible, so that men may occupy as much as possible. Like almost all facets of gender inequality, and more generally, all gendered ways of being/ Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 31


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 32 behaving, the occupation of space by men and women has become an aspect of the “essential” male and female nature: it has become naturalized and removed from its cultural and social formations (West and Zimmerman [1987] 2015:42). Naturalization has invisibilized this aspect of gender, making it harder for laypeople to decouple “natural” and socially mandated ways of being, and ultimately see how even something as simple as the way in which we take up space is linked to gender inequality. This obfuscation of gender inequality was apparent when I faced gender accountability. The woman who told me to that “Ladies don’t sit like that” probably was not an active proponent of the idea that men should dominate space, and dominate women in their occupation of space. However, because manspreading has been socialized and naturalized as a male behaviour, the woman likely simply believed that it was not right for women to sit with their legs apart. Additionally, the mentality of dominance and deference is carried over from something as simple as the occupation of space into larger aspects of society. From the reactions I received to manspreading, it is clear that people are not used to seeing women being dominating. Men feel threatened by a woman who displays dominance and try to outdo her dominance. Others try to correct the woman’s behaviour by stating that it is not womanly to dominate or be dominant. This has real implications for the positions that women can occupy in society. If dominance is thought of as the antithesis of femininity and appropriate womanly behaviour, how can women be expected to lead in equal measure to men and not just represent outliers in positions of power? Furthermore, if culture has made deference the natural state of being for women, and if women have internalized this state, then how are women expected to rise to equal or higher positions of power as compared to men if their fellow women are taught that the female natural form deference and subordination (i.e. manifested in accountability and self-policing)? Clearly, the occupation of space and its gendered connection to dominance and deference has implications far beyond the right to occupy excessive space on the subway. As Frye states in West and Zimmerman ([1987] 2015:44), the ways in which people act as gendered beings and mould their bodies (e.g. manspreading versus minimizing the space that one occupies) and minds (e.g. thinking that difference in occupation of space is “natural”) maintain the gendered hierarchy of power. West and Zimmerman ([1987] 2015) would argue that gender is inherently performative and is self- and member-regulated, so there is very little room for creating equitable gender relations. However, I would argue that the key to breaking this pattern is to decouple gendered ways of being from biology and physiology. If that is achieved, then it will become possible to view gendered ways of being as manufactured, not innate, and therefore ultimately changeable and improvable.

References Anon. 2017. “Manspreading | Definition of Manspreading.” Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved October 13, 2017 (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/manspreading). La Touche, Rachel. 2017. “Socialization.” SOC265 Gender and Society. October 2. Lorber, Judith. [1993] 2015. “Believing is Seeing: Biology as Ideology.” Pp. 15–22 in The Gendered Society Reader, edited by Michael S. Kimmel, Amy Aronson, and Amy Kaler. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press. West, Candace and Don H. Zimmerman. [1987] 2015. “Doing Gender.” Pp. 33–44 in The Gendered Society Reader, edited by Michael S. Kimmel, Amy Aronson, and Amy Kaler. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.


“YOU GOTTA TOUCH HER AGAIN. YOU GOTTA LICK HER AGAIN.”: OBSERVING HEGEMONIC MASCULINITY IN A DIY PUNK DIVE BAR Ariel K enny

Abstract The purpose of this non-participant observational research study is to analyze how both heterosocial and homosocial interactions may reproduce or subvert hegemonic masculinity in the nightlife of the “do it yourself” (DIY) punk scene. In order to provide illustrative examples of how these processes occur, interpersonal interactions were observed and recorded in a Toronto dive bar within the scene and then analyzed for their structure and content. The findings show that hegemonic masculinity was reproduced not only through men’s interactions with women but by men’s homosocial interactions with other men as well. As for the subversion of these processes, both women and men (but mostly women) made efforts to challenge male social dominance within the scene, though these subversions were only witnessed during female homosocial conversations and in situations of heterosexual predation. Even in such cases, male patrons often either exhibited passivity towards acknowledging the harassment or vouched in favor of the male harassers. This finding suggests that men in DIY punk may tend to adopt a bystander mentality that excuses them from challenging hegemonic masculinity within the scene—even if they ideologically wish to subvert it.

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Introduction Given the explicit and dynamic history of gender and sexual politics within the scene, it is worth criticizing to what extent DIY punk, as a subculture, truly subverts culture. Academic and anecdotal references to the DIY punk social scene have illustrated inconsistencies in regard to the scene’s predominant ideologies, safety of its members and perpetuation of oppressive social roles (Downes 2012; Griffin 2012). This lack of praxis is confounding given that the subculture itself was largely established by women and other marginalized musicians as a means to express their opposition towards mainstream norms and values (Griffin 2012). Though the DIY punk genre still characteristically touts anti-fascist criticisms of sexism, classism, homophobia and other forms of oppression, sexism is reportedly still abundant within the microcosmic social sphere that has collectivized itself around the music (Downes 2012). The DIY punk community has since gained notoriety for reinforcing masculinist ideals and male-defined gender expectations; scholars argue that these reputational qualms are symptomatic of the overarching influence of hegemonic masculinity across cultures and subcultures (Connell 1987; Downes 2012). Hegemonic masculinity, in this context, can be defined as the process that legitimates and reproduces social relationships that generate dominance over other forms of masculinities and women (Connell 1987). Thus, the concept of hegemonic masculinity serves as a guide to the discourse on the asymmetrical power relations within the DIY punk community referred to in this study as being inclusive of the DIY, hardcore and post-punk subcultures. Such gender and power dynamics have become a heated topic within the scene as its overarching mantra of equity has been criticized as being hypocritical due to the prevalence of misogynistic performances and actions on the part of punk artists, their advertising and their fan base (Downes 2012), and this dialogue has since raised internal debates about participants’ potential to provide more inclusive and safer spaces within the scene. This study has therefore been proposed as a step towards defining, identifying and scrutinizing these reported tensions between the men and women in DIY who have been “constrained by hegemonic gender relations that leaked into punk subculture” (Downes 2012:208) by exploring how hegemonic masculinity is reproduced (or subverted) interactionally amongst them as patrons in DIY punk dive bars.

LITERATURE REVIEW Previous research on the interrelations of gender, power and resistance within the spheres of interpersonal discourse (West and Zimmerman 1983; Spencer and Drass 1989; Bird 1996), the punk scene (Downes 2012; Griffin 2012) and urban nightlife (Grazian 2007) outline several processes by which hegemonic masculinity may be reproduced interactionally and additionally distinguished on the basis of participants’ gender. Extrapolating the role of hegemonic masculinity amongst the patrons of the DIY punk scene should therefore require not only observing men’s interactions with women—defined in this context as heterosociality—but interactions between people of the same heteronormative binary gender (homosociality) as well (Bird 1996).

Male Homosociality Bird (1996) argues that male homosocial conversations are often failed opportunities to subvert hegemonic masculinity. Discursively, men practise hegemonic masculinity between themselves by means of competition, personal distinctions and conversational narcissism wherein “simple individuality becomes competitive individuality” (Bird 1996:121; Grazian 2007).


Additionally, despite men individually expressing disdain on the proclivity of misogyny in their homosocial conversations, they consistently choose to not vocalize the issue when faced with such provocations from other men (Bird 1996). These findings suggest that male homosocial interactions maintain hegemonic masculinity in that they perpetuate the systemic subordination of femininity, and as such, true subversion of hegemonic masculinity must occur “not only within heterosocial contexts but homosocial contexts and throughout all social institutions” (Bird 1996:131). Given the feminist politics of the DIY punk subculture (Downes 2012; Griffin 2012), it is worth exploring how male homosocial interactions within the scene may differ from those observed by Bird (1996) by investigating how willingly its male participants confront misogyny when it is exhibited by their peers.

Heterosocial Discursive Mechanics In regard to heterosocial conversations, evidence of male microaggressions over female speakers suggest power differentials that are indicative of hegemonic masculinity. Quantitative research by West and Zimmerman (1983) reports an increased likelihood for men to interrupt female speakers while another study by Spencer and Drass (1989) also deduces a tendency for people with “male like” gender identities to be more likely to challenge claims made by their conversational partners. These results have been interpreted to support the idea that hegemonic masculinity exists in conversational power dynamics as men reproduce societal gender inequality by controlling the discourse within heterosocial interactions. Spencer and Drass’ (1989) research parameter accounting for the “maleness” of subjects also provides a queered lens through which to view the alternative femininities that characterize the women of DIY punk (Griffin 2012). This finding is especially relevant in that it suggests that women in the DIY scene who exhibit alternative or “male like” expressions of gender may also take on “male like” discursive traits that could conflict with those of their heterosocial (or homosocial) conversation partners.

Female Homosociality Female homosociality, as it pertains to this context, has been evidenced to be an active, subversive force against hegemonic masculinity in the DIY punk scene. Downes’ (2012:210) own qualitative study on the “riot grrrl” punk subculture notes that feminists have historically used punk as a platform to “confront conventional standards of hetero-femininity” and allow alternative femininities to emerge. Such femininities are referenced in a similar study specific to DIY punk wherein Griffin (2012:74) elaborates that women in DIY face “pressure to assume more masculine characteristics” in terms of behavior in order to cope with hyper-masculine influences within the scene. As a result, women in punk subcultures often subvert such expectations by articulating their self-reliance, strength, and wit in micro-level social interactions with men (Grazian 2007; Downes 2012; Griffin 2012). But what are the results of this subversion in practice? The shared shortcoming of the studies by Downes (2012) and Griffin (2012) is that both primarily delve into the subversive power of female homosociality in regard to cultural production within DIY punk—the work of thirdwave feminists and all-girl bands from 1990 onward. The nature of female homosociality amongst the genre’s consumers is still largely unresearched despite being readily observable in punk social spheres such as those found in venues and bars.

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“Girl Hunting” Of course, hegemonic masculinity is notoriously reproduced in bars regardless of their (sub) cultural affiliations, largely due to the heterosocial and homosocial encounters that allow men’s subordination of women via sexual objectification (Bird 1996; Grazian 2007). Grazian’s (2007) study on the narrative accounts of young men engaging in their local nightlife demonstrates how bars are conducive to masculine performance and predatory behavior (or “girl hunting”) due to their encouragement of aggressive sexual interactions among patrons. For men, bars set a stage for public displays of situational dominance and rule transgressions that are culturally excused by asymmetric courtship rituals while for women bar patronage means risking verbal harassment in addition to sexual and/or physical assault (Downes 2012; Grazian 2007). Moreover, Grazian’s (2007) findings on heterosexual men’s engagement of sexual pursuit as a collective activity or “game” undertaken with other men supports Bird’s (1996) conclusion that male homosocial relationships are often complicit in perpetuating hegemonic masculinity. However, while Grazian’s (2007) study examines both micro-level heterosocial and homosocial interactions, it is limited by its sample and setting; all of its participants are Ivy League university students who patron nightclubs and sports bars. Contrastingly, the DIY punk scene is characterized by a predominantly working-class following that frequents dive bars and live music venues (Downes 2012). These two groups appear to be diametrically opposed in both their cultural values and consumption, but does that change the effect that their male participants have on others in public spaces? Given the hegemonic nature of the issue, how likely are we to discover these instances of male dominance in a scene that has so often been characterized by political and feminist ideologies that reject gendered oppression?

METHODS Sonic Café, a dive bar in downtown Toronto, was selected as the site for this observational study on hegemonic masculinity within the DIY punk community. Research was conducted in the field over three consecutive weekend nights in December 2017 from the hours of 10PM to 2AM. All field notes were recorded on a smartphone, openly coded for themes and additionally analyzed with respect to their depictions of homosocial and heterosocial interactions and whether they reproduced or subverted hegemonic masculinity. Sonic was chosen as the site for this study due to its predominate functionality as a dive bar rather than a music hall, as observing patrons during a live show would have been disruptive to the gathering of field notes. Social interactions between patrons at Sonic were also highly accessible due to the venue’s extremely small size; the entire space is approximately 25–30 square meters, and as such, recording conversations between patrons was accomplished with relative ease. The venue’s consistently high noise level did, however, complicate data gathering. The qualitative approach of this study pairs well with the subject in that it allows men’s social interactions between women and other men to be interpreted contextually. However, while the non-participant observation technique used in this study is strategically beneficial in that it allows a holistic, raw account of a subcultural scene to be captured without disrupting it, the ethicality of this method is objectionable. Neither the patrons nor the staff at Sonic were notified of their subjectification for the purpose of this study, and while their anonymity is assured upon the release of these findings, it is indeed arguable that their privacy has been infringed upon in that their conversations have been recorded and analyzed without their prior consent. The ethicality of this research method is therefore subjective, though a defense of its use is offered on the basis of its merits


and contribution to further research as asserted throughout this study. Issues of interpretation in regard to field note analyses have also been attributed to the limitations of non-participant observation. The absence of relevant social context while in the field indicated a need for assumptions to be made during the coding process, and in this, personal biases may have influenced the interpretation of the data. Additionally, the findings of this study may not be generalizable for the DIY punk scene as a whole due to its limitations in sample size (approximately 20-30 patrons) and use of a singular location (Sonic Café.)

FINDINGS The interpersonal interactions observed at Sonic exemplify several processes by which hegemonic masculinity may be reproduced and subverted in the DIY punk scene. Men evidently reproduce hegemonic masculinity both homosocially and heterosocially by dominating conversations, qualifying topics and women’s involvement in cultural discourse, and sexual predation via “girl hunting” which is supported by their male peers. As for the subversion of these processes, both women and men—but mostly women—made efforts to challenge male social dominance within the bar, though these subversions where only witnessed in female homosocial conversations and in situations of heterosexual predation.

Homo- and Heterosocial Discourse In regard to male homosocial conversation patterns, men observed at Sonic would engage in turn-taking when speaking with other men and seldom interrupt each other, though this meant that homosocial discussions were more prone to conversational narcissism in that they maintained statements of self rather than engage the comments of another man. Contrastingly, men frequently interrupted, ignored or failed to acknowledge women’s comments in heterosocial conversation. Women frequently attempted to subvert this dominance by either continuing to speak while being interrupted or by explicitly addressing the issue, as in one woman’s assertion, “It’s funny when I try to make a point I can’t even say it without you trying to correct me!” These habits support the findings of previous literature on male dominance in conversation both hetero- and homosocially (Bird 1996; Spencer and Drass 1989; West and Zimmerman 1983). As for the content of these discussions, female homosocial interactions often involved women sharing anecdotes about work or the reputations of and shared experiences with men, some of whom were present at Sonic. Such conversations appeared to be an action of solidarity that subverted the male-dominated space in that women maintained an acute risk association and awareness of their male peers and took measures to share these perceptions with other women. In contrast, male homosocial discussions often involved arts, politics, and topics of the self. Coincidentally, these were also the most common topics being discussed when men interrupted or ignored women’s comments upon their participation, as evidenced in one instance of a man telling another female patron, “I’m just making an opinion!” and her flat response, “I don’t need your opinion.” Men would also often challenge or mock women’s authority on topics (“Prove to me what you know! It’s funny!”) while conversations between men did not observably produce similar confrontations. Men did, however, concede authority to women when discussing topics ascribed to feminine habitus such as physical appearance, social etiquette, peers or other people. Rather than interrupt or ignore women’s comments on these topics, men were observed as acknowledging or even anticipating them (“As soon as I saw you looking at me I was like, I know she’s gonna say something about my fucking scarf.”) Men also sought out women’s criticisms or asked for insight as these topics Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 37


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 38 applied to them and their reputation (“So, my hair? What would you think if I just… cut it all off? Not like that Hitler Youth haircut everyone hassomething else.”) Although relegating authority on these topics to women may appear to subvert men’s dominance within cultural discourse, the exception actually exemplifies Bird’s (1996) observation on how masculinity is protected when men distance themselves from their involvement in feminine attributes. These conversational patterns observed have been interpreted as reproductions of hegemonic masculinity in that men exercise cultural authority on all topics while actively obstructing women’s participation in the discourse. In this, men dominated conversations with women by shaping both conduct and content, though it is worth noting that women consistently resisted men’s verbal dominance. It is additionally important to note that homosocial conversations also reproduced hegemonic masculinity in that men used self-centered dialogue rather than engage other men’s comments, thereby preserving their hierarchy within the interaction by means of status assurance.

Heterosocial Sexual Harassment Hegemonic masculinity was also witnessed in several observations of sexual predation and non-consensual physical contact which were assumed given women’s body language and explicit verbal responses to being touched. Men also exercised dominance over female patrons by not removing themselves from women’s physical space upon request, insistently offering drinks, mocking them, and seeking assistance from other men when their advances were rejected, as evidenced in this excerpt of field notes: When one man placed his hands on a woman’s shoulder, she twice protested that he not touch her… I later overheard a second man say to him, “You gotta touch her again. You gotta lick her again.” The bartender overheard this and told the woman aside, “Don’t worry. No one’s getting licked tonight. Mark my words!” … A third male patron warned the woman: “He [the second man] told me he wants to come back in here just to fuck with you. He said it’s ‘funny to get you mad,’ so yeah, watch out.” … The bartender said he’d “play lifeguard” by checking on the status of the second man’s inebriation and soon returned, having not dismissed the man but instead assuring the woman that “he won’t be a problem.” The second man later returned and offered the woman a shot, which she declined repeatedly. He called her “feisty” and said to another male patron, “I just wanna make her laugh, jeez.” A second woman then told him, “She doesn’t wanna talk to you. She doesn’t owe you anything!” […] The second woman revealed that she saw the second man and his friend fill the shot glass with water, presumably as a prank, and that the first woman was “smart to not take it.” A male bystander who had just arrived then vouched for the “good character” of the second man but added that he was “not surprised” by his behavior. Girl hunting is observed here as several men homosocially encourage their male peers to harass women further (Grazian 2007), though two of the men in this excerpt did embrace passive support roles in preventing harassment by warning women of these men’s advances or promising them protection. Though this finding may appear to challenge Bird’s (1996) conclusions on men’s lack of accountability in voicing dissent, it in fact supports the implication in that these well-intentioned words were indeed little more than that. Even if initial verbal support was demonstrated, men at Sonic would often become bystanders to harassment in this way while others would even come to defend the integrity of the men being spurned. In the majority of observed instances of sexual predation, it was the targeted women


themselves that subverted hegemonic masculinity by insistently and confidently rejecting their male harassers. On the rare occasions that another female patron was within proximity to these instances (few women were ever observed at Sonic,) they almost invariably took note of the targeted women’s struggle and defended them as well. This consistent subversion of heterosexual predation on the part of women evidently follows suit to the pattern of female homosociality and feminist solidarity that characterizes DIY punk (Downes 2012; Griffin 2012).

CONCLUSION The findings show that hegemonic masculinity is reproduced not only heterosocially through men’s interactions with women but by men’s homosocial interactions with other men as well. Female patrons consistently subvert hegemonic masculinity by imposing their opinion, perspectives and speech throughout conversations regardless of interruption as well as by rejecting unwanted interactions and standing up for other women being harassed by men. Male social dominance is also consistently subverted through women’s interactions with other women more so than men’s interactions with them, which supports the literature on the presence of feminism within the DIY punk scene and the solidarity women have within it. The findings on male patrons’ interactions and behaviors underscore a broader and more insidious cultural issue that evidences itself in men’s inaction when confronted with overt displays of misogynistic contraventions. Observations on male patrons’ passive responses, distancing from acknowledging harassment and vouching for male harassers suggest the wide adoption of a bystander mentality in the punk scene that excuses men from subverting hegemonic masculinity even if they ideologically support it. In consideration of the fact that DIY punk music is subject to the influence of hegemonic masculinity and male-dominated in both its production and consumption, it is prudent to assume that male participants have the social privilege and clout to subvert the toxic and innocuous transgressions of their male peers more so than individual women within the scene. However, this observational research and other studies would suggest that although men may have the power and even the will to accomplish this, these intentions fall short in the form of weak or absent actions. As this study extends itself into future research on how dominant cultural institutions may both thrive and face resistance in subcultures and countercultures, it is worth considering how homosocial solidarity arises out of the subversion of other hegemonies and how interpersonal power processes and macrostructural inequalities are confronted through our microsocial interactions.

References Bird, Sharon R. 1996. “Welcome to the Men’s Club: Homosociality and the Maintenance of Hegemonic Masculinity.” Gender & Society 10(2):120–132. Connell, R.W. 1987. Gender and Power: Society, the Person and Sexual Politics. Sydney, AU: Allen & Unwin. Downes, Julia. 2012. “The Expansion of Punk Rock: Riot Grrrl Challenges to Gender Power Relations in British Indie Music Subcultures.” Women’s Studies 41(2):204–237. Grazian, David. 2007. “The Girl Hunt: Urban Nightlife and the Performance of Masculinity as Collective Activity.” Symbolic Interaction 30(2):221–243. Griffin, Naomi. 2012. “Gendered Performance and Performing Gender in the DIY Punk and Hardcore Music Scene.” Journal of International Women’s Studies 13(2):66–81. Spencer, William J. and Kriss A. Drass. 1989. “The Transformation of Gender into Conversational Advantage: A Symbolic Interactionist Approach.” The Sociological Quarterly 30(3):363–383. Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 39


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 40 West, Candace and Don H. Zimmerman. 1983. “Small Insults: A Study of Interruptions in Conversations between Unacquainted Persons.” Pp. 102–117 in Language, Gender and Society, edited by Barrie Thorne, Cheris Kramarae, and Nancy Henley. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.


“DOING GENDER” AT THE GYM AS A “SHORT, PUNY GIRL” Habiba Maher

In my personal experience, the social acceptability of correcting someone at the gym depends on whether one was a man or a woman—while it is commonplace for a man to correct a woman’s form, the reverse is quite rare. For the purpose of this assignment, I decided to violate this gender norm. As someone who identifies as a woman, I corrected a man’s form in the weightlifting area of the gym. I argue that the frequency of women being corrected concerning their weightlifting form by men and the rarity of the reverse is not a reflection of a “natural” difference between women’s and men’s physical skills. Rather, such practices are a means of producing this difference. Thus, in threatening to blur the divide, I was held accountable for my violation. Further, I argue that this socially produced binary is used to justify conditions of inequality in institutional arrangements— conditions that individuals legitimize when they “do gender” appropriately. “Doing gender” is a concept used by Candace West and Don Zimmerman (2015:34) to describe a combination of socially learned activities to do with perception and interaction, which cast certain pursuits as feminine or masculine by “nature.” I will begin by recounting my gender norm violation. I will then describe why my actions were a breach of gender norms, and explain their implications and what they reveal about the reactions I received from men. Lastly, I will explain how this norm relates to gender inequality institutionally, and the role individuals play in legitimating it. As an infrequent visitor to the gym, I am unfamiliar with the correct weight lifting and exercise forms. Thus, I decided to bring along a woman-identified friend who studies kinesiology in order to help me identify those whose form needed correction. Still, presence failed to relieve me of the intimidation I felt walking into the weightlifting section of the gym. I a thin-framed, five-foottall woman was surrounded by large, heavilybuilt men. My friend pointed out numerous men whose form she suggested I correct, but the only person I felt comfortable approaching was the one smallest in size. He thanked me sincerely for my advice and proceeded to follow it. I decided that I should instead correct someone whose physical size more accurately reflected the larger average in the room. To build up the courage to do so though, I felt the need to ask someone of greater expertise than my friend—a personal trainer. The trainer I asked began by informing me that it was “very strange” for Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 41


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 42 a woman to be correcting a man’s form. He explained that it would be “hurtful to a man’s ego if a girl, especially a short, puny girl” were to correct his form, and “the more childlike [the corrector], the more hurtful it is.” He then pointed out a specific person for me to correct, describing him as an “alpha male.” I followed the trainer’s directions, and the man I corrected responded with a bemused scoff, saying, “Well I’m done anyway.” As I walked away, I heard the trainer explode in laughter and high-five another man. The man I had corrected then cussed at the two jokingly. The fact that such a minute action violates gender norms, can be explained by the omnirelevance of sex category (West and Zimmerman 2015:39). While sex is determined by the social classification of biological criteria, sex category is established by socially-required identificatory displays that proclaim one as either female or male (West and Zimmerman 2015:35). The claim to sex category is then reinforced by gendered activity—the management of one’s conduct in specific circumstances based on normative conceptions of the attitudes and activities appropriate for one’s sex category (West and Zimmerman 2015:35). Sex, sex category, and gender may vary independently; however, we often use the latter two to make assumptions about sex (La Touche 2016b). Although no set of well-defined criteria exists for categorizing members of society into the two sex categories, sex category is omnirelevant to the affairs of everyday life (West and Zimmerman 2015:37, 39). Thus, one may be held accountable for the performance of almost any action as either a woman or a man (West and Zimmerman 2015:39). What underlies the gender norm described above—the commonness of men correcting women’s form, and rarity of the reverse—is the idea that physical strength is “naturally” men’s domain. This assumes a correspondence between sex, sex category, and gender as explained above. This gender norm is reflective of “essential” differences between women and men—women being physically weak, and men being strong—even though such claims lack empirical support (Lorber 2015:17). As Lorber (2015:17) explains, research claiming men are physically stronger than women take these social categories for granted. In doing so, they ignore the fact that greater differences exist within sexes than between them, and that biologically, there are many gradations from female to male (Fausto-Sterling 2015:25; Lorber 2015:17). Thus, such gender norms serve to produce and reproduce a binary between “females” and “males,” or “women” and “men,” rather than reflect differences that exist naturally (West and Zimmerman 2015:39). An analysis of the implications of this gender norm can explain the reactions I received in the gym. In correcting a man’s weightlifting form, I insinuated that I, a woman, had greater physical skill than he. I therefore violated a gender norm, challenging traditional beliefs about women’s and men’s physical capabilities. My actions threatened to expose the socially constructed nature of these beliefs, so they had to be scoffed at and ridiculed to reaffirm the boundary’s sanctity. My incumbency in the “female” sex category was used to discredit my advice. In this sense, I did not escape “doing gender” by taking part in a non-normative practice (West and Zimmerman 2015:39). This is because “doing gender” is enforced so long as society is divided by “essential” differences between women and men (West and Zimmerman 2015:39). The assumptions that this gender norm makes about women and men’s bodies are associated with gender inequality in a number of ways. First, they are used to justify the unequal access and distribution of rewards between women and men in competitive sports (Lorber 2015:18). This inequality though is not rooted in physiological differences, but is a fundamentally economic, political, and ideological issue (Lorber 2015:17). Second, these assumptions are also used to justify the numerous sources of social control impeding women’s access to physical strength and the empowerment it implies (Brace-Govan 2004:506). This includes parents’ disapproval of daughters’ strength, strong women being mistaken for men, the predominance of men at the gym, lack of appropriate exercise gear, and being excluded and taunted for being strong (Brace-Govan 2004:508).


West and Zimmerman (2015:44) assert that when we “do gender” appropriately—that is, in a way that corresponds to our perceived sex category—we legitimize institutional arrangements that are based on sex category, such as the ones explained above. Thus, we also legitimize the gender inequalities with which these institutions are imbued. This explains why it may be difficult for one to accept a constructionist view of gender, as it entails a personal responsibility for gender inequality (La Touche 2016a). After all, most members of society voluntarily go along with society’s prescriptions for their sex category because these norms become a part of their identity and self-worth (Lorber 2015:21). Instead we must grapple with how our own choices may or may not serve to reproduce society’s prescriptions for their sex category. With regards to this experiment, even though I arranged it, I found that I too was not immune to the effect of society’s prescriptions based on sex category at the gym. This was evident for instance in why I found it significantly more difficult to correct a heavily-built man at the gym without the advice of yet another heavily-built man—the personal trainer. In other words, the advice of my friend, the kinesiology student, who too is a “short, puny girl,” was not enough to instil in me the confidence necessary to correct the form of an “alpha male.” Learning from this gender experiment means recognizing that our everyday interactions are infused with ideas about gender. This implies our choices have the potential to reify or disrupt the taken-for-granted validity of a supposed binary between sex categories. This insight is significant considering that this assumed binary is used to justify conditions of inequality in institutional arrangements predicated on it. In other words, such an experiment encourages us to be more conscious about how we ourselves “do gender,” in a way that is deemed appropriate or not, and our potential complicity in reproducing the binary, and thus legitimizing the institutional arrangements it is predicated on.

References Fausto-Sterling, Anne. 2015. “The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female are Not Enough.” Pp. 24–29 in The Gendered Society Reader. Third Canadian Edition, edited by M. Kimmel, A. Aronson, and A. Kaler. Toronto, ON: Oxford University Press. Brace-Govan, Jan. 2004. “Weighty Matters: Control of Women’s Access to Physical Strength.” The Sociological Review 52(4):503–531. La Touche, R. 2016a. “Biological Explanations for Gender and Social Construction of Gender.” SOC265 Gender and Society. September 26. La Touche, R. 2016b. “Socialization.” SOC265 Gender and Society. October 3. Lorber, Judith. 2015. “Believing Is Seeing: Biology as Ideology.” Pp. 15–23 in The Gendered Society Reader. Third Canadian Edition, edited by Michael Kimmel, Amy Aronson, and Amy Kaler. Toronto, ON: Oxford University Press. West, Candace and Don H. Zimmerman. 2015. “Doing Gender.” Pp. 34–45 in The Gendered Society Reader. Third Canadian Edition, edited by Michael Kimmel, Amy Aronson, and Amy Kaler. Toronto, ON: Oxford University Press.

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THE DARK KNIGHT’S STARK ENCOUNTERS WITH PROVISIONAL SELVES AND FRAME BREAKS Antonio Scarfone

Abstract Identity plays a key role in shaping how individuals think about their careers. Oftentimes, these individuals have to deal with unmet expectations that require strength, adaptation, and perseverance to overcome. Throughout identity formations, individuals adopt provisional selves—auxiliary identities—in the hopes of developing their master selves. In doing so, experiences with identity crises, or frame breaks, emerge and have to be dealt with accordingly. In this paper, I discuss a unique case study—Christopher Nolan’s ‘Batman’ in The Dark Knight Rises (2012). I seek to elaborate on these sociological phenomena and bring to the forefront the paradox of heroism elicited in the film. I seek to demonstrate how the abrupt loss of his parents and the emergence of an arch-nemesis led to repeated encounters with frame breaks and provisional selves for Batman and Bruce Wayne, respectively. More broadly, I hope to illuminate the broader implications these sociological forces have on our understandings of crime and deviance in society. Wayne’s identity formations and crises are representative of the struggles that ordinary individuals face on a daily basis, which can strengthen our understanding of the internal motivations that underlie deviant behaviour in contemporary society. This analysis is meant to illustrate how battles with identity formation should not be interpreted on the surface; they involve a complex interplay between the individual and society which requires a more nuanced perspective.


IntrodUCtion In Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises (2012), we are introduced to the urban, fastpaced city of Gotham which, like contemporary society, is riddled with social problems including white-collar and subculture crime, and even police corruption. The protagonist, billionaire mogul Bruce Wayne, adopts a hidden alternate identity: crime-fighting ‘Batman’. There are two prominent moments of crisis for Wayne, which lead to severe identity confusion and a subsequent battle between provisional selves and frame breaks: witnessing the murder of his parents when he was a child, and the emergence of his arch-nemesis, the Joker. As a result of these traumatic events, Wayne becomes trapped on both sides of normality and deviance. In his attempts to fight crime, he becomes a vigilante with good intentions, who seeks to promote justice and social stability over corruption and chaos. However, it often remains unclear which side of the moral fence he is on. Batman’s dubiousness as a superhero makes him extremely unique, because his good intentions are motivated in part by an internal struggle between provisional selves. I seek to demonstrate how the abrupt loss of his parents and the emergence of an arch-nemesis birthed a battle between provisional selves and frame breaks, which triggered subsequent changes in the identity formation and career experiences of Bruce Wayne.

ENCOUNTERING PROVISIONAL SELVES AND FRAME BREAKS Bruce Wayne’s real-world identity is that of a multi-millionaire owner of a high-tech company. In this respect, Wayne is seen as a normal, harmless citizen of Gotham, who is well-respected by his peers. Conversely, when he adopts his alternative role, social perceptions of him change dramatically. Ibarra (1999) posits three ways in which we develop an identity: “1) observing role models to identify potential identities; 2) experimenting with provisional selves; and 3) evaluating experiences against internal standards and external feedback” (p.764). The adoption of a provisional self is a process in which an individual acquires, or adopts, aspects of their own identity as a result of learning from others. It is an experiential process that often involves, what Ibarra (1999) calls, imitation strategies. I seek to illustrate how Wayne’s provisional self, that of becoming the law through his alternate identity as Batman, emerged out of witnessing the death of his parents at a young age. Furthermore, the concept of frame breaks also applies to Batman’s character, particularly when the Joker is introduced. According to Levi (1981), frame breaks work to enable, or justify, an individual’s engagement in dirty work by temporarily bracketing the experience from their broader, more central sense of identity. Dirty work is typically associated with social, moral, and physical taint that blemish the perceptions of an occupation (Ashforth and Kriener 1999). For Batman, though his intentions were benevolent, residents of Gotham often attributed these forms of taint to his work. Herein lies the conflict between Batman and the Joker; the former seeks to maintain social order, the latter is a psychotic nihilist, who seeks to destroy all of Gotham City. Both characters have conflicting values and goals and, as a result, Batman experiences several frame breaks where he has to reframe his negative experiences by perpetuating the notion that all of his actions are done ‘for the goodness of Gotham’. An integration of the concepts of provisional selves and frame breaks will help to better illustrate the complexity of Batman’s character, and the sociological underpinnings of his identity experiences. Batman’s character parallels many of the common features of law enforcement, like his efforts to encourage social legitimacy by becoming a mechanism of surveillance that tries to ensure law and order. This imitation strategy is further perpetuated when Wayne begins training in martial arts and weightlifting; activities that were of no interest to him before. The concept of provisional selves leads Batman into a severe contemplation about who he is, and what he stands for. Here, we see a Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 45


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 46 role conflict whereby the ‘moral’ Bruce Wayne is at odds with the vigilante persona that Batman adopts. Wayne’s parents played a significant role in rectifying issues of poverty in Gotham, and their deaths triggered several consequences: Gotham’s social fabric began to wear down, community members became isolated, and social institutions grew weaker and weaker (Nolan 2012). This generated widespread social disorganization in the city of Gotham, particularly with increased levels of crime. Merton (1938) suggests that deviance emerges in the form of social strain and anomie when an individual’s legitimate opportunities are blocked. Citizens were now confronted with limited opportunities to seek justice, so they converged and turned to criminalization in order to establish new opportunity structures. Consequently, Wayne was compelled to take matters into his own hands, so he experimented with the role(s) of law enforcement officials.

DISCUSSION Lived Experiences and Identity Reformations Wayne sought to have others ascribe to him the same qualities that the citizens of Gotham ascribed to police officers. Ibarra (1999) comments on ‘true-to-self’ strategies whereby an individual refuses imitation to effectively improve their new role. We fail to see this in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), because Wayne’s alternate identity is much different than his actual, personal identity. Wayne chooses to embody both identities, leading to heightened mental instability characterized by his realization that he cannot both disrupt and live in society. Nolan (2012) illustrates this mental battle using repeated instantiated metaphors of spiritual, and even physical, death. This is representative of the death of one, or both, of Wayne’s identities. For example, a television program at the beginning of the film depicts a story with the headline ‘Batman: Crusader or Menace’. In adopting the role of police authorities, Batman simultaneously exposed himself to criticism and ridicule from those around him. Viewers notice how Wayne develops an intense desire for vengeance when he adopts this alternate identity. A combination of revenge-desires, feeling as though the justice system failed him, and powerlessness, prompted the birth of Batman. Consequently, Wayne’s newly emerged provisional self envelops him entirely, and we no longer see the ordinary Bruce Wayne. It was at this time where Wayne begins questioning his crime-fighting desires and contemplates putting his Batman identity to rest. From Ibarra’s (1999) perspective, Wayne observed and experimented with the role(s) of law enforcement, and subsequently evaluated his experiences based on his internal dispositions of doubt and external opinions which questioned the morality of his escapades. Though the latter forces conflicted with one another, Wayne believed his actions were inspired in good faith, prompting him to preserve both his identities. The process of reframing occurs when an individual invokes techniques of neutralization in order to justify, or reframe, the nature of their occupation, or action, prior to entering into it (Levi 1981). Much like Levi’s (1981) case study on hitmen and the social organization of professional murder, Wayne was required to reframe his own actions as heroic—particularly during his war with the Joker—although they were labelled ‘deviant’ by the rest of society. This is evident through the public gunfights, explosions, and other demonstrations waged between the two who stood on the opposite sides of the justice system. As Levi (1981) articulates, in entering his new role as a crime-fighter, Batman has to deal with profound stigmatization from his peers. For example, in a conversation with Vicki Vale, Batman is confronted with the stark reality that “[a] lot of people think you’re as dangerous as the Joker” (Nolan 2012). Vale proceeds to say how many people believe Batman to be “as psychotic as the Joker,” because he is not exactly normal (Nolan 2012). Batman responds by saying “[it’s] not exactly a normal world, is it?” (Nolan 2012). Batman’s response is quite


compelling because we see a complete break from his former identity. However, his former identity is never relinquished; Wayne has effectively taken the responsibility of two completely different personas.

Confronting Unmet Expectations Once the Joker was introduced, the very order which Batman wished to restore in Gotham is dissolved. Near the end of the film, Batman has a chance to eliminate the Joker, yet he refuses to (Nolan 2012). He is overcome with a sense of morality and self-righteousness, the very characteristics he lacked when he sought to murder the man responsible for the death of his parents. Due to the social stigma that Batman faced, prompted by the Joker, he became uncomfortable pursuing a life of crime-fighting causing Wayne to set aside his supposed moral obligations to the city of Gotham. Despite his efforts to preserve harmony in the city, he is confronted with the unmet expectations of public uncertainty of his moral intentions. However, upon ending his career as Batman, the Joker took advantage of this rare opportunity to establish complete control over Gotham City. The Joker’s established control proved to be an impetus to another turning point, or frame break, in Wayne’s life. In his aforementioned conversation with Vale, and the criminal events that transpired after his hiatus, we see how abnormal Gotham City really is as a criminal haven. Wayne uses this to personally justify his crime-fighting actions that operated beyond the law. Wayne decides to dismiss speculations about his broad eccentricities when fighting crime, and embraces the peculiarities, or socially ascribed taints, of Batman. Herein, he overcomes his earlier frame break with a second one, by restoring his career as Batman and working to save Gotham from the moral terrorism elicited by the Joker. Batman succeeds in restoring the social order of Gotham City, despite his repeated confrontations with frame breaks and role strains.

CONCLUSION The concepts of provisional selves and frame breaks emerge in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) through Bruce Wayne’s early encounter with the death of his parents and the conflicts prompted by the Joker. These sociological phenomena elicit a paradox of heroism and the broader social implications that morality has on our perceptions of crime and deviance. Despite Batman’s efforts to produce good in the world, his eccentric behaviour was gravely stigmatized by his peers. This sheds light on contemporary criminal behaviour, and how interactions with provisional selves and frame breaks can motivate the pursuit of unconscious desires. Neither Wayne nor Batman are perfect characters, but it is this very embodiment of imperfection and deviancy that makes them so admirable and relatable to viewers. Wayne’s constant battle between his two identities is representative of the battles that individuals in contemporary society face on an everyday basis. Oftentimes, members of society are guilty of prematurely judging the acts of others, and immediately ascribing negatives connotations to them in the form of a deviant label. However, as evidenced in Batman’s story, interpretations made on the surface limit deeper understandings of an act, or occupation, which often involve a series of battles with identity.

References Ashforth, Blake E. and Glen E. Kreiner. 1999. “How Can You Do It?”: Dirty Work and the Challenge of Constructing a Positive Identity.” The Academy of Management Review 24(3):413–34. Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 47


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 48 Ibarra, Herminia. 1999. “Provisional Selves: Experimenting with Image and Identity in Professional Adaptation.” Administrative Science Quarterly 44:764–791. Levi, Ken. 1981. “Becoming a Hit Man: Neutralization in a Very Deviant Career.” Urban Life 10(1):47–63. Merton, Robert. 1938. “Social Structure and Anomie.” American Sociological Review 3(5):672–682. The Dark Knight Rises. 2012. Dir. Christopher Nolan. Warner Bros, DVD.


HEALTH AND SOCIOLOGY

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Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 50

LANGUAGE REVITALIZATION AND THE INDIGENOUS YOUTH SUICIDE EPIDEMIC IN CANADA: DECOLONIZING SUICIDE AND SAVING LIVES THROUGH LANGUAGE Julia Li

ABSTRACT The suicide epidemic affecting Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit, or Métis) youth in Canada has complex roots in settler-colonial trauma (Webster 2016:2494). Although not all communities are affected, research has linked the presence of Indigenous language knowledge with lower rates of Indigenous youth suicides in affected Canadian communities (Chandler, Hallet, and Lalonde 2007). The author contends that language revitalization efforts may be able strengthen community connections (Allen et al. 2014), improve mental health resilience to perceived discrimination and reinforce cultural identity (Grier et al. 2014), and in turn, lower rates of Indigenous youth suicides in affected communities. Language revitalization may be further incorporated into community-level suicide prevention methods In Canada to increase the effectiveness and reach of those programs (Cwik 2016). This paper draws on the Kodiak Alutiiq language revitalization program in Alaska, U.S. (Counceller 2012), the Chickasaw language revitalization project in Oklahoma, U.S. (Davis 2015), and the Kaska Athabascan language revitalization project in the Yukon, Canada (Meek 2011), to demonstrate salient challenges and findings. KEYWORDS language revitalization, Indigenous youth suicide, Canada


IntrodUCtion Although not all First Nations, Inuit, or Métis communities in Canada experience heightened rates of youth suicide, over a third of all deaths among Indigenous1 youth are attributable to suicide (Health Canada 2003). While reasons vary amongst individuals and communities, it is likely that an interaction of various factors including continuing settler-colonial trauma, such as, land dispossession, intergenerational trauma from the Canadian residential school system, abuse within the welfare system, and healthcare and education funding inequities all contribute to the loss of reason for life for Indigenous youth in Canada (Webster 2016). As a preventable public health issue that reduces health outcomes of Indigenous youth and communities, these suicides highlight the healthcare inequities between Indigenous communities and the general population. However, recent studies have linked lower rates of Indigenous youth suicides with the presence of Indigenous language knowledge (Chandler, Hallet, and Lalonde 2007). I will draw on the Kodiak Alutiiq language revitalization program in Alaska, U.S. (Counceller 2012), the Chickasaw language revitalization project in Oklahoma, U.S. (Davis 2015), and the Kaska Athabascan language revitalization project in the Yukon, Canada (Meek 2011), to illustrate salient challenges and findings. Furthermore, I believe that language revitalization should be further incorporated into suicide prevention methods because it may help lower suicide rates amongst Indigenous youth in Canada by strengthening community connections, improving mental health resilience to perceived discrimination, and reinforcing cultural identity. Although it is not my intention to draw conclusions from cross-cultural comparisons, I will support my proposal with salient suicide-related health findings from Norwegian, Canadian, and U.S. data that illustrate the relevance of community connections, mental health, and cultural identity on Indigenous youth health and suicides in those regions.

EVIDENCE Firstly, learning ancestral languages can become a community activity that strengthens connections between youth and other community members (Davis 2015:7). Native language fluency emerged as a marker of cultural identity and capital in Chickasaw Nation community members who participated in the Chickasaw language revitalization project in Oklahoma, U.S. (Davis 2015:7). Being a fluent Speaker became a point of cultural and community pride, and non-Speakers were able to establish their ethnolinguistic identities through familial relationship to Speakers, Chickasaw language learning or activism, or familial relationships to learners and activists (Davis 2015:2). This provided incentive for community members to participate in language classes, Chickasaw postsecondary and high school courses, camps, and other programs (Davis 2015:3). The Chickasaw language revitalization project strengthened community connections by creating opportunities for members to expand their social networks, and bond with others through shared language learning experiences (Davis 2015:7). In addition, community-level suicide prevention methods have successfully lowered suicide rates in the White Mountain Apache Tribe in Eastern Arizona, U.S. (Cwik 2016:52). Using community-level gatekeeper or care keeper training, Elder-led activities, and school-based interventions, suicide rates decreased from 40 to 24.7 deaths in 100,000 persons as a result of the 1 In this paper, the term “Indigenous” refers to those peoples and persons who identify as First Nations, Métis, and Inuit in Canada, as well as specific Indigenous groups in other countries as otherwise referenced, such as the Kodiak Alutiiq, Chickasaw First Nation, Norwegian Sami, and Indigenous peoples identified by the Australian Queensland Suicide Register (Kesler 2016:7). Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 51


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 52 White Mountain Apache Suicide Surveillance System (Cwik 2016:52). However, individuals may only be able to access these community-level methods if they have opportunities to meet people within their community who are either trained in suicide prevention or who will notice suicidal tendencies and connect the suicidal individual to medical resources. Language revitalization work can be an opportunity for individuals to go to meet-ups, take classes, and connect themselves with other individuals in their community who might be able to address potentially suicidal behaviour. Applied in a Canadian context, Indigenous communities with existing community-level suicide prevention programs might be able to reach more people with the addition of language revitalization programs. Communities without formal suicide prevention programs can benefit Indigenous youth through language revitalization work by allowing them to meet new people and extend their support network to those who may be able to connect them to resources in times of need. Furthermore, community characteristics emerged as the strongest predictor for reasons for life in a study investigating preventative factors for alcohol abuse and suicide amongst Alaska Native youth in the U.S. (Allen et al. 2014:12). Using a Likert-type response scale, participants indicated that having various levels of community engagement emphasized cultural beliefs, provided direction, made life more meaningful, and encouraged reflective thinking of the negative consequences of alcohol abuse and suicide on individual, family, and traditional ways of life (Allen et al. 2014:9). Bals et al. also indicated that perceived discrimination such as feeling teased, threatened or unaccepted as a result of one’s ethnic identity was positively associated with internalization symptoms such as anxiety and depression amongst northern Norwegian Sami 10th graders between 15–16 years old (2010:165). However, there were no significant differences in the number of internalization symptoms between non-Sami youth and Sami youth despite Sami youth experiencing more perceived discrimination (Bals et al. 2010:174). Bals et al. discussed the possibility that Sami youth may feel more prepared to face perceived discrimination because they have a stronger sense of cultural pride as a result of recent Sami cultural revitalization and nation-building activities, and have been socialized with a positive outlook on their ethnic identity (2010:174). That being said, Sami youth who had learned the Sami language at home experienced less internalization symptoms than those who did not learn the language at home (Bals et al. 2010:174). Sami youth who had been taught the Sami language at home may have had better native language competency, which could play an important part in feeling accepted by other Sami and having a sense of cultural pride (Bals et al. 2010:175). Thus, native language competency may protect against internalization symptoms that result from perceived discrimination (Bals et al. 2010:175). On the other hand, Grant et al. also indicated that depressive symptoms and low self-esteem were found to be associated with a higher frequency of suicidal ideation amongst Canadian Saskatoon First Nations youth who were in grades 8–12 (2013:15). However, significant reasons for suicidal ideation were related to the deterioration of parent-child relationships such as wanting to leave home, feeling depressed, and not feeling loved (Grant et al. 2013:17). There were no significant protective effects from speaking a First Nations language or attending community cultural events (Grant et al. 2013:17). This suggests that language revitalization activities cannot be undertaken alone without consideration for other emotional and environmental factors that influence suicidal behaviour specific to individual Indigenous communities (Grant et al. 2013:19). However, insofar that the emotional and environmental stressors come from perceived discrimination in Canadian Indigenous communities, language revitalization may be able to impart cultural pride and belonging to Indigenous youth in those communities and mitigate internalization symptoms such as depression and anxiety (Bals et al. 2010:175). In those cases, language knowledge may be able to stem negative mental health symptoms before they deteriorate into suicide ideation. However, the Queensland Suicide Register also reported lower levels of unipolar depression


amongst Indigenous people in Australia who have died by suicide (De Leo, Milner, and Sveticic 2012). This could be because Indigenous conceptions of health and affective disorders are less widely used in Westernized clinical care settings in Australia, thus preventing individuals from being appropriately diagnosed and treated. Nevertheless, Australian Indigenous individuals who sought mental health treatment were less likely to die by suicide (De Leo et al. 2012). This goes to show that mental health treatment can help lower suicide rates amongst Indigenous persons, but might run into the issue of being culturally inappropriate. In Canada, language revitalization could potentially be used to aid the creation of local, culturally appropriate mental health vocabulary in order to more accurately reflect conceptions of Indigenous health (De Leo et al. 2012). For example, the “Medicine Wheel” is widely used amongst some Canadian First Nations and represents health as a balance between “body, spirit, mind, and emotions” (Grier et al. 2014:4). “Walking Forward,” a grief and loss support program designed to support Indigenous youth and children in the Fraser Canyon in British Columbia, Canada, uses the “Medicine Wheel” to support its curriculum (Kahui Tautoko Consulting Ltd. 2012:69). In Northern Quebec, researchers indicated that some Canadian Inuit individuals of Nunavuk did not have one general word for mental illness and either used the English term “mental illness,” or Inuktitut terms such as Isumaaluttuq meaning “thinking too much,” or Isumaqanngituq which means “not thinking at all” or “having no mind” (Kirmayer et al.1994:6). Incorporating this knowledge with findings from other interviews and surveys, researchers were able to develop an Inuktitut/English lexicon of mental health related terms so that community members could more accurately describe their problems to psychiatric care providers (Kirmayer et al. 1994:6). Culturally appropriate considerations like these could make mental health treatments more accessible to Indigenous youth who have some cultural connections by allowing individuals to use familiar language and concepts to describe their emotions and experiences. Moreover, ancestral language knowledge can contribute to a stronger Indigenous cultural identity. In fact, Canadian colonial policies have sought to eradicate Indigenous language as a way of eliminating an Indigenous cultural identity (Grier et al. 2014:5). Canadian Indigenous children in residential schools were prohibited from speaking their native language as a way to eliminate Indigenous cultural identity, and “kill the Indian” (Grier et al. 2014:5). The loss of language due to residential schools disconnected survivors with their native-speaking communities and fostered a sense of shame associated with losing a part of one’s cultural identity (Grier et al. 2014:6). Language revitalization may be able to promote cultural resilience to these historical traumas (Grier et al. 2014:2). Grier et al. interviewed ten Cree and Blackfoot leaders in Alberta, Canada, who were either working as Chiefs of Council members at the time or were previously on Band Council (2014:2). Participants in the study described traditional language as being synonymous with traditional culture, and cultural knowledge as being positively linked to good health (Grier et al. 2014:3–4). By reintroducing ancestral languages, cultural knowledge could be revived by allowing youth to connect with community members with traditional knowledge such as Elder speakers (Grier et al. 2014:3–4). Participants also report that Elders urge language revival as a way of encouraging “cultural rehabilitation” in reconnecting individuals with their Indigenous identity (Grier et al. 2014:4). Language is described as a medium in which cultural knowledge and beliefs are embedded so that communities can be self-sustaining in leadership and organization (Grier et al. 2014:4). Indigenous youth who have language knowledge may have a stronger connection to their cultural identity and thus, have a higher resilience to suicidal tendencies that are rooted in cultural disconnect. Consequently, having a strong cultural presence from youth to adulthood can provide a sense of cultural continuity that acts as a protective factor against suicide (Chandler and Lalonde 1998:211). Many Indigenous youth in Canada face unique socio-cultural adversities as a result of continuing Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 53


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 54 challenges such as discrimination, intergenerational trauma, and chronic education and housing issues (Kirmayer et al. 2007:101). Without the benefit of cultural practices, rituals, and traditions; at-risk youth might struggle to see the value in life. In a study investigating the correlation between markers of “cultural continuity” and suicide rates using information from The Office of the Chief Coroner of BC and tribal councils, it was found that “Native” young persons had a suicide rate of 108.4 suicides per 100,000 persons as compared to an overall annual suicide rate of 24.0 suicides per 100,000 persons including “non-Native” young people (Chandler and Lalonde 1998:204). Using four cultural markers: (1) evidence of self-government, (2) successful land claims, (3) education, and (4) health services, the study shows that the presence of these cultural markers was significantly associated with lower suicide rates (Chandler and Lalonde 1998:211). For example, evidence of self-government was linked to an approximately 85% reduction in suicide rates (Chandler and Lalonde 1998:211). As a historically prosecuted aspect of Indigenous culture in Canada, reintroducing learning opportunities for Indigenous languages can serve to reinstate a sense of cultural pride in Indigenous youth.

DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS The Indigenous youth suicide epidemic in Canada can be conceptualized as an inflammatory response to the deprivation of basic needs and social determinants of health stemming from structural issues such as loss of culture (Grier et al. 2014), and a lack of culturally appropriate healthcare (De Leo et al. 2012). Loss of culture may be partially attributed to a diminished cultural presence in those Indigenous communities affected by the Canadian residential school system (Kirmayer 1994:19). The systematic oppression of Indigenous languages and cultural practices in the residential school system has traumatized many residential school survivors and resulted in their inability to pass on traditional knowledge to their younger family members (Kirmayer 1994:19). The lack of culturally appropriate services in Canada for Indigenous residents may be partially attributed to the dominance of biomedical understandings of health and disease in Western medicine (DeVerteuil and Wilson 2010:499). For example, DeVerteuil and Wilson described how Indigenous patients in Winnipeg who wanted to smudge sweetgrass could not do so because of non-smoking rules in one facility, and in another facility, the director mentioned that patients needed to go off-site for sweat lodges or other traditional ceremonies because the infrastructure was not available and spiritual healing was not considered part of their core medical treatment plans (2010:498). In many ways, the dominant Western biomedical understanding of health excludes Indigenous conceptions and makes it hard for culturally-appropriate healthcare services to gain legitimacy (DeVerteuil and Wilson 2010:499). While language revitalization cannot directly address structural issues, it can help Indigenous youth to cope through protective factors grounded in Indigeneity. The call to action from this discussion on Indigenous youth suicide prevention is for the immediate implementation of language revitalization programs in Canadian Indigenous communities who want and need them. The evidence points strongly to the benefits that suicide prevention programs can gain from incorporating language revitalization initiatives that support cultural identity, mental health, and community connections. Firstly, (re)introducing Indigenous languages reaffirms the self-determination of at-risk Indigenous youth by allowing them to draw from their own cultural bank of knowledge. This is especially true for Elder or master-apprentice projects such as those in the Kodiak Alutiiq language revitalization program in the U.S. state of Alaska (Counceller 2012). Language revitalization inherently depends on speakers to provide preserved language knowledge in order to create teaching material. Participants have ownership of language revitalization and the benefits it brings because it draws from their own cultural heritage. Preventing suicide through language revitalization would thus


be accredited to the community itself. Since the Indigenous youth suicide epidemic can be said to be inherently rooted in settlercolonial trauma such as the residential school system, it reinforces the self-sustainability of Indigenous communities for suicide prevention methods to come from Indigenous knowledge (Kirmayer 1994:19). As a suicide prevention method that is implemented by and for Indigenous communities, language revitalization resists the idea that dependence on upstream resources is necessary (Grier et al. 2014:6). However, the average age of fluent Indigenous language speakers is over 60 (Fontaine 2017:184), and there is an imminent risk of losing language and cultural knowledge along with aging speakers. This particularly threatens Elder or master-apprentice projects such as those in the Kodiak Alutiiq language revitalization program where fluent speakers are dying at a faster rate than new ones can become fluent (Counceller 2012). It is becoming increasingly urgent to document, encourage, and support young people in speaking their ancestral language(s). The survival of some Indigenous languages may rest on language revitalization efforts that are implemented before speakers die out. Secondly, long-term, centralized language programming can potentially offer more suicide prevention benefits than temporary facilities. Centralized programming can help ameliorate sporadic attendance, and increased (and sustained attendance) might help people see more suicide prevention benefits from language revitalization. As one gains language knowledge, one may also gain the ability to use it in different settings and access different resources. Someone who is a fluent speaker may be able to speak with less difficulty to their family members, or feel more welcome in cultural settings, thereby potentially increasing their access to other protective factors against suicide like cultural continuity (Chandler and Lalonde 1998:6). Researchers of the Kaska Athabascan language revitalization project in Yukon, Canada, noted that attendance varied widely in their voluntary workshops and that it was already established speakers who were the most consistent participants (Meek 2011:3). Children often missed school and language classes due to some being in foster care and moving around frequently, as well as some having to travel long distances for medical care (Meek 2011:xvii). The frequency and length of these workshops that often ran uninterrupted for three, four, or seven days posed challenges for those who had to travel from afar or find accommodations. In addition, Meek also noted that cultural traditions around community deaths inhibited the running of these workshops because of wide-spread closure of Kaska-run facilities in respect of the deceased (Meek 2011:xvii). However, in comparison to offering these short-term workshops, offering centralized language revitalization programming on a regular basis could allow people more leeway to make lifestyle adjustments around attending class. Having centralized, regular, long-term programming such as at school or in a community center could increase rates of attendance and amplify the suicide prevention effects . In addition, language revitalization offers opportunities for instructors and members to perform surveillance and intervention for students at risk. Instructors may be able to pick up on irregularities within at-risk youth and perform suicide prevention. Their potentially consistent proximity to youth and other community members can help them to implement suicide prevention methods such as gatekeeper or Elder training and school-based intervention (Cwik 2016). Gatekeeper or Elder training can be further incorporated into Elder or master-apprentice programs such as in the Kodiak Alutiiq revitalization program in Alaska (Councellor 2012), and school-based intervention can be incorporated into high school and post-secondary language courses such as in the Chickasaw language revitalization project (Davis 2015). However, Bland et al. states that suicide surveillance in Canada can be difficult due to inadequacies in the recording and tracking of data from Regional Health Authorities (RHA), specifically RHAs in Saskatchewan, Canada (2017:56). Regionalized healthcare delivery is utilized Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 55


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 56 nationwide by Canada’s provincial governments because healthcare delivery is a provincial responsibility, despite being federally funded (Currie et al. 2001:926). Regionalization of healthcare may make it difficult for healthcare deliverers to come to a consensus on how to categorize identifiers in patient data, such as the numerous complexities encapsulated within Indigenous identities (Bland et al. 2017:63). Since RHAs track neither hospitalizations or deaths in provinces by ethnicity, it is difficult to determine rates of suicide for First Nations and Métis youth (Bland et al. 2017:62). There is a need for data to capture more specific identifiers such as Status or Non-Status, Métis, urban, rural and reserve (Bland et al. 2017:62). Accurately tracking the ethnicity, and identity of Indigenous patients is especially important in Saskatchewan where Indigenous youth suicides occur rarely, but in quick succession (Bland et al. 2017:62). At-risk Saskatchewan communities need accurate data in order to prove that their communities are being afflicted by these “suicide clusters,” and to subsequently secure the government funding that allows for rapid mobilization of suicide prevention resources and programming (Bland et al. 2017:62). The opportunities that may be created by language revitalization projects to perform surveillance and intervention for at-risk students need to be accompanied by the development of more sophisticated data collection for suicide-related hospitalization and deaths amongst Indigenous youth in Canadian regions such as Saskatchewan where “suicide clusters” occur (Bland et al. 2017:62). Having more accurate data that can identify complexities within Indigenous identities also supports the self-determination of local health managers and tribal councils who may be able to use the data to more successfully prove the need for funding in their communities (Bland et al. 2017:62). Language revitalization programs in Canada can also bring community members such as Indigenous youth, Elders, and instructors together to learn and participate in community activities. It can create a whole network of learners and instructors who can check up on each other inside and outside of programming. Even without participating in language classes, at-risk individuals may be able to receive preventative benefits from other community members who do participate. For instance, participants who develop stronger community connections through attending language classes with others can use that network to support a suicidal individual (Wexler and Gone 2012). Having better mental health as a result of participating in language programming may also enable participants to better help at-risk youth (Grant et al. 2013). Non-participants may similarly feel the effects of stronger cultural identity within their community through markers of strong cultural continuity such as selfgovernment, successful land claims, education, and health services (Chandler and Lalonde 1998:6).

CONCLUSION This paper demonstrates a connection between language revitalization and Indigenous youth suicide prevention that has potentially been recognized by many Indigenous people as part of a broader push to restore and reclaim Indigeneity. Members of the Alberta Cree and Blackfoot Nations interviewed in Grier et al.’s (2012) paper stated that culture, and by extension, language, is an integral part of living and thriving. The next steps would be for existing language revitalization programs to implement suicide prevention methods, or vice versa.

NEXT STEPS Broader educational and public institutions must recognize Indigenous youth suicide as a salient issue and mobilize resources towards Indigenous-backed programs. Furthermore, this implementation should incorporate language revitalization into existing suicide prevention programs that work to improve mental health, community characteristics, and cultural identity as a way to


increase the benefits of those protective factors. It is also important to impress upon various levels of academia that supporting ethno-linguistic research through grants, funding, and demonstrated interest is necessary because it might literally save lives. This means supporting transcription work, the creation of corpus linguistics where languages are represented through selected samples, recordings, and online databases. One way is to advocate for First Nations, Inuit and Métis endangered languages to be accepted as language requirements in post-secondary universities, as the University of British Columbia has done for First Nations and Endangered Languages (FNEL) courses (2018). Simon Fraser University also introduced a First Nations Language Proficiency Certificate for students who complete courses in First Nations languages (2018). Similarly, the University of Toronto offers a language citation but no specialized certificate for Indigenous language learning (2009). However, the University of Toronto Centre for Indigenous Studies (n.d.) offers Ciimaan/Kahuwe’yá/Qajaq, which is a language revitalization initiative that runs language and cultural programming through activities such as workshops, conferences, and camps throughout the year. The University of Toronto can take further steps to recognize the importance of Indigenous language learning by supporting and promoting Ciimaan/Kahuwe’yá/Qajaq, offering a specialized certificate, and promoting the Indigenous Studies program to incoming and current students. In sum, it is of vital importance that institutions draw the link between Indigenous language knowledge loss and Indigenous youth suicide. There remains an urgent need for Canadian educational and public institutions to recognize the Indigenous youth suicide epidemic as a public health crisis that will continue to damage the health outcomes of future generations.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The author thanks Meryl Bishop, Emily Graceanna Pearson and Janelle Lapointe for their guidance in approaching this issue as a non-Indigenous writer.

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THE MEDICALIZATION OF MENTAL ILLNESS IN CANADA Jessica Rapson

Abstract With the continual development of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, definitions of mental illness are expanding such that behaviours previously considered to be nonmedical are brought under medical jurisdiction (Conrad and Slodden 2012:61). This “medicalization” has resulted in mental illnesses being increasingly treated by pharmacological means while their social and psychological causes are neglected (Beck 2005:799–800). The current prevalence of drug-based treatments can be attributed in part to powerful pharmaceutical companies, which have played a significant role in using the medical system to profit from drug sales (Conrad and Slodden 2012:61–65). This research paper uses Marxist conflict theory to analyze how mental illness is medicalized through the marketization of health care in Canada. Specifically, the discussion focuses on how pharmaceutical companies affect mental illness treatments and exacerbate existing mental health inequalities. It is ultimately proposed that the medicalization of mental illness can be resolved by regulating the influence of pharmaceutical companies and expanding Medicare to cover sociopsychological treatments.


IntrodUCtion Mental health is a serious issue in Canada (Mental Health Commission of Canada 2010:4). Indeed, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC; 2010) reports that more than 6.7 million Canadians, or 1 in 5 people, live with a mental health problem. Additionally, mental illnesses are incredibly expensive, costing Canadians over $50 billion a year in health care, social services, income support, and lost productivity. Due to their pervasiveness and costs, it is important that these issues are properly addressed. However, current treatments disproportionately focus on pharmacological solutions, leaving social and psychological needs unmet. According to Statistics Canada (2012), while 91% of patients are able to receive the medications they seek, only 65% are successful in securing any kind of therapy or counselling. Additionally, the use of prescription drugs in Canada has been increasing since the early 1990s (Beck 2005:799-800). The MHCC (2017) estimates that almost 1 in 10 Canadians are on antidepressants, consuming approximately 40 million prescriptions a year— which places Canada third highest among 23 countries for antidepressant use. The medicalization of mental illness has contributed to this focus on pharmacological treatments, causing previously non-medical behaviours to be defined as medical issues that can be cured with modern medicine (Conrad and Slodden 2012:61-65). While medicalization is not necessarily harmful, its intensification can result in unnecessary diagnoses or overmedication for relatively harmless behaviours. Conrad and Slodden (2012) cite the medicalization of ADHD as a classic example of this process. Prior to the 1960s, children with behaviours that are now characterized as symptoms of a hyperactivity disorder were considered simply ‘overactive.’ Yet after the development of Ritalin in 1961, these behaviours were described as a mental illness in medical journals and doctors’ offices. By the 1970s, the most common psychiatric diagnosis among children was ADHD, with between 3-5% of school children considered to be clinically overactive and 250,000 to 500,000 of those children being treated with medications. A similar trend was observed in the 1990s with the promotion of social anxiety disorder (SAD) alongside Prozac and Zoloft. By 2002, Statistics Canada estimated that over 5% of the population had SAD, even though before 1980, socially anxious behaviours were not considered to be a disorder subject to medical intervention. (Statistics Canada 2002). This trend is continuing today, as exemplified by the recent removal of bereavement, or grief after the death of a loved one, as an exclusion for major depressive disorder in the fifth Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Conrad and Slodden 2012:65). The change means that it is now possible to be diagnosed with major depressive disorder for experiencing sadness after a death, a reaction that most would consider to be undeserving of medical attention. Considering the examples above, it is clear that pharmaceutical companies have played a significant role in encouraging the medicalization of mental illness. This relationship is best understood through conflict theory.

CONFLICT THEORY AND HEALTH CARE Conflict theory is based on the ideas of Karl Marx and draws attention to unequal distribution of power and resources. In the sociological study of health care, according to the University of Minnesota Libraries (2010), conflict theory is concerned with social inequalities in health and health care provision. It is established upon two main ideas: first, that “people from disadvantaged social backgrounds are more likely to become ill and to receive inadequate health care [and second that] partly to increase their incomes, physicians have tried to control the practice of medicine and to define social problems as medical problems” (University of Minnesota Libraries 2010). Hall and Schneider (2008) expand upon these foundations in their description of the ‘medical marketplace’ by noting that treating medicine as a source of profit causes patients to become ‘customers.’ Hall Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 61


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 62 and Schneider (2008) assert that the customer-patient distinction exacerbates inequalities by making superior services available to the ‘customers’ who can afford them, instead of distributing resources based on need. The medical marketplace applies even to the Canadian universal health care system, as the shallow breadth of services actually paid for by Medicare entail that expenses such as dental care, pharmaceuticals, and mental health management are not completely covered (Marchildon 2014:376). Thus, services that fall outside of ‘universal’ coverage are accessible only to those that can afford them and are vulnerable to exploitation by private corporations. It is this structure that allows pharmaceutical companies to medicalize, and subsequently profit from, mental illness. The following section uses the conflict-driven conception of health care to explain the private sector’s role in mental health and its subsequent impact on treatment and inequalities.

SOCIAL CONFLICT IN MENTAL HEALTH The rise in classifying normal behaviours as medical disorders can be partly attributed to powerful parties who seek to profit from the sale of pharmaceuticals (Conrad and Slodden 2012:65). Through this imbalance of power, treatments for mental illnesses are altered such that social and behavioural causes are ignored and social inequalities are exacerbated.

Influence of Pharmaceutical Companies As predicted by social conflict theory, medical definitions of mental illness are influenced by the medical marketplace (Hall and Schneider 2008:643). Specifically, profit-driven pharmaceutical companies increase medicalization by using their resources to encourage the sale of drugs. They do this through two main methods: promoting drugs to physicians and lobbying the government for decreased regulations (Mintzes 2009:131). Promotions to physicians involve personal marketing to individual health care professionals, making donations to medical organizations, and covering travel expenses for international conventions (Lexchin 2017:125). For example, in 2016 GlaxoSmithKline Canada offered $2 million to health care providers and organizers while Roche Canada paid over $8 million (GlaxoSmithKline Inc. 2016; Roche Canada 2016). In his book, Doctors in Denial: Why Big Pharma and the Canadian Medical Profession are Too Close for Comfort, Lexchin (2017) contends that these payments or gifts influence prescription behaviour. He claims that financial ‘donations’ cause medical groups to feel obligated to repay drug companies by promoting their products to patients (Lexchin 2017). The ability for pharmaceutical companies to have this degree of leverage is related to neoliberal market-oriented beliefs that hold markets, not governments, to be the most efficient distributor of resources (Navarro 2009:426). In other words, allowing private companies to infiltrate health care is believed to ultimately provide individuals with the best pharmacological options through competitively-driven prices and innovative products. The validity of this assumption is called into question, however, in light of research suggesting that drug companies may actually charge patients far more for their treatments than they are worth and unnecessarily modify existing drugs to make them more expensive (Hemels, Koren, and Einarson 2002:1376). In addition to leveraging relationships with physicians, pharmaceutical companies actively lobby the government for decreased regulations, in line with the neoliberal trend of market deregulation (Mintzes 2009:131). In Canada, these companies seek to remove regulations that prohibit direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs and the continued freedom to withhold their medical conflicts of interest (Lexchin 2017:29). Overall, it is apparent that pharmaceutical companies use their financial resources to influence and determine policy, a relationship best characterized by an elitist model of power (Raphael and Curry-Stevens 2009:565). Such a relationship has serious consequences for the way that mental


illnesses are treated.

Impact on Mental Health Care and Treatment The most salient consequence of corporate influence on the medical care system is that resources are not allocated by efficacy, but by profitability (Hall and Schneider 2008:643). In regard to mental health care, this is evident when drugs are promoted over treatments that address behavioural or social causes of mental illness (Statistics Canada 2015). Not only is it significantly easier to access drugs than therapy or counselling in Canada, but more effective and less expensive treatments are severely underfunded. Cognitive-behavioural therapy, for example, has been shown to be both less expensive and more beneficial in the long term by training patients to manage their symptoms independently, yet it is not covered by Medicare (Myhr and Payne 2006:662). On the contrary, private pharmaceutical companies receive millions of dollars from the Canadian government each year to develop and produce drugs (GlaxoSmithKline Inc. 2016). Although funding drug research is not inherently harmful, it illustrates Navarro’s (2009) observation on neoliberal practices that there is no “reduction [in] state interventions, but rather a change in the nature of these interventions” (Navarro 2009:426). That is to say that instead of making effective services publicly available, state spending is redirected towards private enterprises on the incorrect assumption that markets efficiently allocate resources. Indeed, research has found that drug companies may exaggerate the effectiveness of their products by disproportionally publishing positive findings, which calls into question whether they truly invested in providing the best treatments (Yaphe, Edman, Knishkowy, and Herman 2001:565). Furthermore, the overall economic burden of pharmacologic treatments has grown exponentially as both prescriptions and prescription costs increase (Hemels et al. 2002:1375). Ultimately, the medicalization of mental illness has led to a focus on drugs that is financially advantageous for pharmaceutical companies, while pushing patients towards potentially less-effective treatments. This contributes to a deepening of inequalities relating to mental illnesses.

Effects on Social Inequalities of Mental Health The medicalization of mental illness has three main effects on inequalities, namely: (1) social determinants of mental health are ignored, (2) poorer patients are prevented for accessing the best treatments, and (3) individuals with minor mental health problems are compelled to pay for pharmacological solutions. Firstly, social determinants of health (SDH) are factors that “encompass individuals’ material and psychosocial circumstances, and range from the more micro-level of health behaviours and social support to the more macro-level of unemployment rates and policies regarding food and transportation” (Quesnel-Vallée and Jenkins 2010:458). Many SDH such as unemployment and homelessness are associated with chronic stress and can increase the risk of developing a mental illness (Williams, Yu, Jackson, and Anderson 1997:340). Focusing on pharmacological treatments allows for these factors to be ignored and for mental illnesses to be seen as a predominately biological problem (Myhr and Payne 2006:668). Such a phenomenon is best illustrated by the Canadian government’s decision to fund drug research instead of services like cognitive behavioural therapy, which forces Canadians to spend an estimated $950 million a year on private practice psychologists (Mental Health Commission of Canada 2010:16). Naturally, this disadvantages those who cannot afford private services. The MHCC (2010) estimates that less than 60% of Canadians have employerbased insurance, which itself may only cover a handful of therapy sessions. Accordingly, low-income and unemployed Canadians who have a proportionally higher rate of mental health issues have less access to counselling, psychotherapy and psychological services. Thus, not only does medicalization Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 63


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 64 dismiss social factors as a cause of mental illness, but it also results in those who are already disadvantaged having the least access to treatments. Farmer (2005) refers to this phenomenon is known as the patient paradox, meaning that those who need care the most have the most difficulty accessing it because they are not seen as profitable in the medical marketplace. Finally, the medicalization of mental illness exacerbates inequalities by turning human differences into profitable medical problems (Conrad and Slodden 2012:65). As definitions of mental illness expand to include common behaviours such as bereavement and mild social anxiety, which are experienced by most people at some point in their lives, individuals with relatively minor mental deviances are increasingly treated by pharmacological means and subsequently pulled into the mental health marketplace. Through its dismissal of social determinants of mental health, its impact on low socio-economic status patients, and expansion of diagnoses, it can be argued that the current market-driven approach to treating mental illness is increasing inequalities and needs to be amended.

DE-MEDICALIZING MENTAL ILLNESS It has been demonstrated that the medicalization of mental illness is driven by pharmaceutical companies and results in unequal access to treatments. As medicalization is a result of a marketinduced emphasis on biological factors, it stands to reason that its harmful effects can be reduced by regulating pharmaceutical companies and expanding Medicare to cover socio-psychological treatments (Myhr and Payne 2006:668). Government intervention at the federal and provincial level is necessary to restore the power imbalance between pharmaceutical companies and patients (Lexchin 2017:256). This can be accomplished through regulations that require drug tests to be thoroughly peer-reviewed and for corporations to disclose their financial relationships with doctors. Similar regulations were enforced in the Netherlands following the thalidomide crisis of 1961 (World Health Organization 2002:7). The Dutch Medicine Evaluation Board now requires all pharmaceuticals to undergo rigorous testing and obtain a license before they are distributed to the public. In addition, drug prices are controlled by the federal government to ensure that patients are not financially exploited by large pharmaceutical companies. The results of these regulations are very promising; according to the World Health Organization (2002), drugs in the Netherlands are significantly less expensive than in other countries. The depression drug Cymbalta, for example, costs only a quarter of what it is sold for in the United States, according to the World Health Organization (2002). Moreover, there is a decreased reliance on drugs in the Netherlands. While the MHCC (2017) estimates that 10% of Canadians are on antidepressants, only 4% of the Dutch depend on this type of medication. To further de-medicalize mental illness, the Canadian government should look to Australian success with covering psychological therapy and expand Medicare to cover such services (Mental Health Commission of Canada 2010:12). After implementing therapy coverage in 2006, Australia has seen massive decreases in mental health hospitalization and an overall improved satisfaction with individual mental health care. By increasing regulations and expanding Medicare, Canada can reduce pharmaceutical companies’ influence on the health care system and improve access to resources that treat non-biological causes of mental illness.

CONCLUSION This analysis establishes that the marketization of health care in Canada has led to mental illness being medicalized. Medicalization arises from an unequal balance of power between pharmaceutical companies and patients that encourages predominantly pharmacological treatments and disadvantages those who cannot afford medications. However, these effects can be reduced


by implementing regulations on drug companies and expanding Medicare to cover therapy and counselling. Further research should focus on determining if the benefits of these policies outweigh the costs of monitoring drug companies and covering mental health services. Until this time, it is sufficient to understand the impact that powerful players can have on health care treatments and inequalities—and to be wary of financial motivations within the health care system.

References Beck, Cindy. A., S. B. Patten, J. V. Williams, J. L. Wang, S. R. Currie, J. C. Maxwell, and N. ElGuebaly. 2005. “Antidepressant Utilization in Canada.” Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 40(10):799–807. Conrad, Peter and Caitlin Slodden. 2012. “The Medicalization of Mental Disorder.” Pp. 61–73 in Handbook of the Sociology of Mental Health, edited by C.S. Aneshensel, J.C. Phelan, and A. Bierman. New York: Springer. Farmer, Paul. 2005. Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor: With a New Preface by the Author. Berkeley: University of California Press. GlaxoSmithKline Inc. 2016. “Voluntary Disclosure of Payments Made to HCPs and HCOs.” Retrieved October 30, 2017 (http://ca.gsk.com/en-ca/healthcare-professionals/voluntarydisclosure-of-payments-made-to-hcps-and-hcos/). Hemels, M. E., G. Koren, and T. R. Einarson. 2002. “Increased Use of Antidepressants in Canada: 1981–2000.” The Annals of Pharmacotherapy 36:1375–1379. Lexchin, Joel. 2017. Doctors in Denial: Why Big Pharma and the Canadian Medical Profession are Too Close for Comfort. Toronto: James Lorimer & Company. Marchildon, Gregory P. 2014. “The Three Dimensions of Universal Medicare in Canada.” Canadian Public Administration 57(3):362–82. Mental Health Commission of Canada. 2010. Making the Case for Investing in Mental Health in Canada. Mental Health Commission of Canada. Ottawa, ON. Mental Health Commission of Canada. 2017.Options for Improving Access to Counselling, Psychotherapy and Psychological Services for Mental Health Problems and Illnesses. Mental Health Commission of Canada. Ottawa, ON. Mintzes, Barbara. 2009. “Should Canada Allow Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Drugs?” Canadian Family Physician 55(2):131–132. Myhr, Gail. and Krista Payne. 2006. “Cost-Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for Mental Disorders: Implications for Public Health Care Funding Policy in Canada.” The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 51(10):662–670. Navarro, Vincente. 2009. “What We Mean by Social Determinants of Health.” Global Health Promotion 16(1):05–16. Quesnel-Vallée, Amélie. and Tania Jenkins. 2010. “Social Policies and Health Inequalities.” The New Blackwell Companion to Medical Sociology. doi:10.1002/9781444314786.ch21. Raphael, Dennis. and Ann Curry-Stevens. 2009. “Surmounting the Barriers: Making Action on the Social Determinants of Health a Public Policy Priority.” Social Determinants of Health: Canadian Perspectives. Roche Canada. 2016. “Stakeholder Engagement and Reporting.” Retrieved October 30, 2017 (http:// www.rochecanada.com/en/corporate_responsibility/StakeholderEngagementReporting.ca). Social Problems: Continuity and Change. 2010. University of Minnesota Libraries. Statistics Canada. 2015. Perceived Need for Mental Health Care in Canada: Results from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey–Mental Health. Statistics Canada. Ottawa, ON. Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 65


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 66 Statistics Canada. 2002. Social Anxiety Disorder. Statistics Canada. Ottawa, ON. Williams, D. R., Y. Yu, J. S. Jackson, and N. B. Anderson. 1997. “Racial Differences in Physical and Mental Health.” Journal of Health Psychology 2(3):335–351. World Health Organization. 2002. Effective Drug Regulation: A Multi-Country Study. World Health Organization. Geneva, Switzerland. Yaphe, John, Richard Edman, Barry Knishkowy, and Joseph Herman. 2001. “The Association Between Funding by Commercial Interests and Study Outcome in Randomized Controlled Drug Trials.” Family Practice 18(6):565–568.


SOCIAL MOVEMENTS

Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 67


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 68

THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD’S 2012 ELECTORAL SUCCESS IN EGYPT: AN ANALYSIS Nadine Abd El Razek

Abstract This paper investigates the driving forces underlying the Muslim Brotherhood’s electoral success in the 2012 parliamentary and presidential elections in Egypt. It starts by analyzing the political environment post the January 25th2011 revolution and while the political climate is recognized as a determining factor it is not the sole cause of the Muslim Brotherhood’s electoral success. The remainder of the paper is dedicated to understanding the additional causal factors that led to the results observed in 2012, using Social Movement theory’s three branches: Political Opportunity Structure, Resource Mobilization and Framing. The group’s electoral success is eventually attributed to its utilization of political openings post January 25th 2011, its historical ability to operate inconspicuously under Egypt’s authoritarian regime, its strategic usage of available resources to garner a loyal following, as well as its appeal to religious sentiment. The paper deepens the understanding of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political and social strategy in Egypt, and clarifies the various exogenous factors prompting the group’s electoral victories. Keywords Muslim Brotherhood, Ikhwan, Egypt, Social Movement Theory, Political Opportunity Structure, Resource Mobilization, Framing, January 25th revolution.


IntrodUCtion In May of 2012, thirteen candidates ran in the first round of the Egyptian presidential elections. With a two-tiered presidential election system in place, the second round only featured the top two contenders, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi and the last Prime Minister under the Mubarak regime, Ahmed Shafik. With 51.7% of the vote, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi became the first freely, democratically elected president in Egyptian history (Al-Anani 2015). Many saw the second round of elections as a major setback to the agenda of the revolution. This view was particularly shared amongst the youth of Tahrir Square (While protests took place in many Egyptian governorates, Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo became the symbolic centre of the youth-led movement) ; it was even referred to by Liberal activist Hisham Kassem as “a choice between cholera and the plague” (Wickham 2013:288). The vote for Morsi in the second round was framed as a vote for a total break from the Mubarak regime and was thus endorsed by a large number of those who lost in the first round (Wickham 2013). The January 25th Egyptian revolution that took place in 2011 was a “spontaneous, non-religious, unpoliticized, youth led mass revolt,” which the Muslim Brotherhood (hereafter referred to as the “MB”, “The Brotherhood” or the “Ikhwan”) did not organize or initially take part in (Al-Awadi 2013:539). What then explains The MB’s attainment of 50% of parliament seats, as well as the presidency? The Mubarak regime was infamous for its persistent repression of Islamist groups, which would entail the MB’s inability to organize due to constant government crackdowns, it is thus curious that scholars attribute the 2012 victory to the MB’s high level of organization (see Al-Awadi, 2013; Wickham, 2013; Al-Anani, 2015). This paper seeks to understand the MB’s electoral victory particularly by addressing the following question: How was the MB able to circumvent Mubarak’s 30-year long repression to eventually rise to power in the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections? The paper argues that the rationalization of the MB’s victory is twofold and can be attributed to the political environment post January 25th in combination with the relative superior level of organization of The Brotherhood. While the environmental aspect of the reasoning is easily laid out, an understanding of the MB’s organizational superiority is achieved through the utilization of Social Movement theory. The aforementioned high-level of organization refers to the quick mobilization of group members, which is attributed to political strategy, as well as a strong base of loyal supporters. The paper is organized into two sections: first, an analysis of the “environment” post January 25th; the remainder of the paper is dedicated to understanding how the MB’s greater quality of organization was achieved. The second section starts by addressing the question: Why Social Movement theory? And is then broken down according to the three components of Social Movement theory, which are Political Opportunity Structure (POS), Resource Mobilization (RM) and a small section on Framing.

POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT POST JANUARY 25TH 2011 The MB was able to utilize the immense political vacuum that materialized after Mubarak’s fall (Al-Anani 2015). It managed to reinforce its position due to the weakness of other political parties and the fragmentation and disorganization of youth movements in contrast to the MB’s “organized structure” (Al-Anani 2015). The forces that participated in the revolution only had a ten-month window, before parliamentary elections, to establish viable political parties and were therefore outweighed by the far more prepared Muslim Brotherhood, who relied on their religious appeal and enduring social networks (Al-Anani 2015). The circumstances shrouding parliamentary elections were significantly different than those surrounding presidential elections. In terms of parliamentary elections, exogenous factors, mainly the state of the political environment at the time, Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 69


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 70 were outweighed by the Brotherhood’s utilization of political spaces, which played a more defining role in their success; the MB’s superior “organizational machine” was evident from the start as will be outlined in the “Political Opportunity Structure” section (Wickham 2013:288). The post-January 25th political environment had a more determining role on presidential elections, particularly in terms of the “revolution vote” (the vote dedicated to the candidate who promised to carry the spirit of the revolution all the way to Itahadiya Palace by fulfilling the demands of Tahrir Square), which was divided on three separate presidential candidates, as is subsequently outlined. It is notable to mention that the MB had initially stated that it would not field a presidential candidate, however the group was blocked by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) from using its base in parliament to form a new government and was thus driven to make a bid for presidency: We have chosen the path of the presidency not because we are greedy for power but because we have a majority in parliament, which is unable to fulfill its duties — Mohamed Morsi (Wickham 2013:283) The first round of presidential elections featured 46% of eligible voters (Wickham 2013). Morsi came in first with 24.7%, followed by Ahmed Shafik with 23.6% Hamdeen Sabahi, a secular Nasserist, came in third with 20.7%, Abd al-Mun’im Abu Al-Futouh followed with 17.4%, while Amr Mousa, former Foreign Minister under the Mubarak regime and former Secretary General of the Arab League, came in with 11.1% of the vote (Wickham 2013). Sabahi, Abu al-Futouh and Khaled Ali, who were all important figures of the revolution and ran on platforms that addressed the revolution’s demand, each ran separately causing the revolution vote to be divided on all three (Wickham 2013). Sabahi and Abu al-Futouh represented a clear alternative to both the Brotherhood and the old regime, and together won close to 40% of the vote (Wickham 2013). Had there been a single “revolution” candidate, Shafik would have most likely not succeeded to the second round, and Morsi would have had to go up against either Sabahi or Abu Al-Futoh. A comparison between the number of votes received by the MB during parliamentary elections and presidential elections further supports this claim. While the Brotherhood-led Democratic Alliance for Egypt had gained over ten million votes in the 2012 parliamentary elections, Morsi only managed to garner 5.4 million votes in the first round (Wickham 2013). The drop in almost half of voter support for the MB was mainly due to their “lackluster performance” (to say the least) in parliament, during the months preceding the presidential elections (Wickham 2013). The aforementioned indicates the significance of the political environment surrounding the MB’s success in the first round of the presidential elections, however it does not explain how Morsi was able to get 24.7% of the vote or how the MB was able to achieve electoral success in parliament. Through the utilization of Social Movement theory, the rest of the paper seeks to complete the puzzle.

WHY SOCIAL MOVEMENT THEORY? Social Movement theory (SMT) is a multidisciplinary, unifying, analytical framework for understanding contention (Wiktorowicz 2004); it combines the wisdom of political science, sociology, history and religious studies in order to explain how different elements interact to produce the conditions necessary for a social movement (2004). A social movement can be understood as the collective mobilization of contention for a shared social goal; “social goal” is intentionally broad to include a range of potential purposes for a movement. Accordingly, the Muslim Brotherhood is categorized as a social movement that initially mobilized for religious reform, however its agenda expanded to include socioeconomic and political reform. SMT is composed of: Resource Mobilization


theory (RM), Political Opportunity Structures (POS) and Framing; drawing on mobilizing structures, political opportunities, as well as framing and repertoires, respectively. In order to understand the advantages of applying SMT to the case of the Muslim Brotherhood, an understanding of the other available methods of social movement analysis is necessary. SMT provides an alternative to essentialist interpretations that blame culture and limit comparative studies to those of a fundamentalist, religious orientation (Wiktorowicz 2004). Due to the salience of Islam in the Middle East, the essentialist approach is often used to analyze movements in the region, which feeds into the narrative of Islamic “exceptionalism” and disregards flagrant similarities between mechanisms of Islamic movements and movements around the world (Wiktorowicz 2004). SMT challenges orientalism by not assuming the mono-causal nature of culture and instead focusing on the rationality of actors, which allows for the exploration of measurable causal factors. SMT also challenges functionalist interpretations that treat structural strains as the underlying cause of social movements (Wiktorowicz 2004). Structural strain is viewed as a cause of disequilibrium and the loss of values, which triggers aggrieved actors to “irrationally” burst out with no prior build up; social movements are thus seen as an apparatus to relieve psychological distress resulting from structural strain (Wiktorowicz 2004). Structural strain can include socioeconomic factors (focusing on actors’ socioeconomic background) (Wiktorowicz 2004), “cultural imperialism” (assuming that actors are driven by anger towards the west for “ruining” their culture) (Wiktorowicz 2004), as well as political strain (actors responding to a lack of political access) (Wiktorowicz 2004). While the psychosocial approach focuses on the disappointments caused by reality not measuring up to expectations, the approach is quite static and individualistic (Wiktorowicz 2004).

Political Opportunity Structure Political opportunity structure (POS) contextualizes movements by analyzing political, cultural, social and economic opportunities and constraints; the theory’s structural approach recognizes that actors are both inhibited and empowered by external factors (Wiktorowicz 2004). Actors are thus assumed to act rationally in response to perceived opportunities and threats (Wiktorowicz 2004). POS will be used to analyze how the MB’s adaptability to political constraints, its commitment to operating inconspicuously within the political sphere (at least enough to appease government), and its utilization of post-January 25th political opportunity led to its 2012 electoral victory.

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian Government: A Brief History Hassan El Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928, as an apolitical, religious reform, and mutual aid society (Munson 2001). Since its conception, the MB had maintained a highly organized internal structure, encompassing several councils within both a legislative and executive branch (Munson 2001). The MB invested its energy in membership recruitment, discussion of religion and moral reform, as well as building a social service organization (Munson 2001). It started becoming politically involved in the 1940’s, criticizing British colonial presence in Egypt (Munson 2001). After the 1952 coup, the MB maintained an amicable association with the Free Officers and the regime; however, as the regime consolidated its power it started dismissing the MB, then following an assassination of a government official by a MB member, the regime commenced a crackdown on Islamists (Munson 2001). The Nasser period was characterized by immense political restriction, inhibiting the MB from participating in the political sphere (Ghobashy 2005). The 1970’s ushered in a new period of “semi-authoritarianism,” the Egyptian political system became more permissive, Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 71


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 72 allowing the MB to extend its base and participate in elections (Munson 2001). The Muslim Brotherhood succeeded in gaining political influence in the 1980’s due to the Mubarak regime’s preoccupation with fighting radical Islamic violent movements (Ghobashy 2005). In the 1990’s, after realizing that the MB had managed to garner significant support, particularly in professional syndicates, the Mubarak regime began its indiscriminant crackdown, under the guise of fighting “radical Islamism,” making a martyr of the peaceful movement amongst the many individuals who benefited from their social services as well as observers (Wiktorowicz 2004). In 2004, the United States pressured the Egyptian government to ease oppression, so the MB was able to moderately protest against the government and create alliances with other opposition forces. Under Mubarak, the Brotherhood had no legal status and was in fact barred from creating its own political party in 2007 (Wickham 2013). It was not until June 2011, that the MB was able to establish the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) (Wickham 2013). The details of the MB’s founding and early history reveal that The Brotherhood was constituted to be a highly adaptive political creature, enduring the transformations of ordinary parties (Wickham 2013). The Brotherhood’s historical commitment to participating in the “regime game” whilst maintaining adaptability and practicing a high-degree of caution (as is outlined below) are the key to its survival as a group and its eventual superior organizational capacity. The Egyptian authoritarian regime found it difficult to manage its relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, which was arguably the most powerful social force in the political sphere and so it attempted to balance political incorporation and mitigation of threat in an effort to consolidate its power.

Adaptability The political environment under Mubarak would be best described as semi-authoritarian, in that it restricted meaningful contestation in terms of political authority but still allowed opposition to be expressed within limit (Brown and Hamzawy 2010). It can be further described as a centralized regime, with limited contestation to authority; attempts by opposition to change political order are seen as security threats, rather than political challenges (Brown and Hamzawy 2010). Contestation was allowed within “red lines” however, these “lines” were constantly shifting (Brown and Hamzawy 2010). The MB faced every shifting red line, or shift in the rules, with its own shift in tactics (Brown and Hamzawy 2010). The MB’s strategic prowess can be attributed to the younger members, who started joining in the 1970’s; they significantly shaped the group’s political agenda, including the formation of strategic alliances and planning (Ghobashy 2005). The malleability of the Muslim Brotherhood was key to its ability to weather government repression and continue to participate in the political sphere. In 1984, election law 114 was released, replacing single-member constituencies with a proportional representation system, however parties needed 8% of the national vote to qualify for parliamentary representation (Wickham 2013). The MB allied with the Wafd party and won 58 seats in parliament that year. The logic in this alliance was that the Wafd party had legal basis, while the MB had popular support. Its popular base prompted the leader of the Labor party to approach the MB and form an alliance in the 1987 elections, an alliance which established the Ikhwan as leaders of the opposition in the 1987 parliament. The MB had also emerged as a threat to the state’s National Democratic Party (NDP) in professional syndicates. Amany Qandil, an Egyptian sociologist, comments on the MB’s success in professional syndicates attributing it to their superior organizational and “get-out-the-vote” skills as well as transparent management of syndicate finances (Ghobashy 2005:380). In the 1990’s Egypt witnessed the de-liberalization of institutional politics. The government


imposed restrictions on the opposition in the form of electoral laws that advantaged the NDP (Brown and Hamzawy 2010). The state also arrested a large number of MB opposition members allowing only 1 of 150 candidates to make it to the People’s Assembly in the 1995 elections (Brown and Hamzawy 2010). The state’s changed attitude towards the MB emanated from a number of reasons. In the 1980’s the MB had raised demands for the implementation of Islamic law; it also challenged the regime’s policies in a number of avenues, particularly in regards to socioeconomic reform and political inclusion. Additionally, as aforementioned, the MB had become the leading opposition, in a country where opposition was seen as a security threat, this translated to challenging the legitimacy of the state regime and threatening its consolidation on power (Al-Anani 2015). Mubarak had given opposition, including Islamists, political opportunity in an effort to consolidate his legitimacy; however, by the 1990’s he had already established control and no longer needed to maintain an accommodative stance. Yet, government crackdowns in the 1990’s happened after two decades of the MB establishing itself and finding success in parliament; the group had secured presence in the lower house since the late 1970’s (Brown and Hamzawy 2010). It became clear that the more the MB asserted itself as a political force, the more restrictions were absurdly tailored to inhibit its participation (Brown and Hamzawy 2010). In response to the Brotherhood’s “brazen” pooling of contributions to earthquake victims, the PM issued military decree 4/1992, requiring government approval for the collection of donations (Ghobashy 2005). The government had also enacted law 100/1993 requiring a 50% quorum for union elections in an attempt to impede the MB’s political progress in professional syndicates (Ghobashy 2005). The MB responded by holding a two-day conference on “Freedoms and Civil Society”, uniting activists and intellectuals from a broad spectrum of political beliefs. (Ghobashy 2005) The MB even brokered a ceasefire deal between radical Islamists and the government during the United Nations’ Cairo Population Council, as a show of good faith (Ghobashy 2005). The limited political openings offered by the Egyptian regime between 2002–2005 caused the MB to join other opposition forces to push for democratic reform and for the government to accept political competition and pluralism. The MB always pushed for more political liberalization and by 2004 created an inclusive political reform program. However, the group’s boldness and activism was always overshadowed by caution. Fearing repression, the MB was perpetually conscious to avoid signaling challenge to the regime’s grip on power and correspondingly remained reluctant to commit to lasting formal electoral alliances with other parties, and instead experienced short-lived alliances that were often not seen through. I argue that this cautious demeanor was key to ensuring not only the preservation, but also the development of the internal organizational structure of the Brotherhood, which accordingly ensured the group’s survival within the political arena.

Operating Inconspicuously: “Participation Not Domination” Within the context of authoritarian states, parties must play a dual role simultaneously in order to survive in the political arena (Ghobashy 2005). The first of these roles is the “regime game” and the second is that of vote collection (Ghobashy 2005). The regime game can be played in one of two ways, either by steady participation in formal institutions, with the hope of effecting a transition to democracy, or a de-legitimation game where parties work to undermine the legitimacy of authoritarian regimes (Ghobashy 2005). I argue that the MB did the former, allowing it to evade severe repression and direct its drive primarily towards its social activities, as well as internal organization, rather than regime confrontation, which in combination with strategic resource mobilization and framing led to its superior organizational and mobilization capabilities. In 1981, after being released from the confinement of Nasser’s prisons, members of the MB set to pursue lawful means to carry out activities Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 73


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 74 without troubling security or challenging laws. The Brotherhood’s cautious demeanor is exemplified by one of their main slogans: “participation not domination” (Wickham 2013:278). In his 2010 acceptance speech for the position of the MB’s General Guide, Mohamed Badie stated that the MB is a “peaceful force in parliament and community attempting to bring reform to Egypt” (Brown and Hamzawy 2010:32). He emphasized the group’s “traditional formula”: True reform begins at the level of individual souls, spreading through families and societies, eventually affecting political situation — Mohamed Badie (Brown and Hamzawy 2010:32). In parliamentary elections, the MB participated in a non-threatening manner by contesting a limited number of seats. The group’s keen participation in the formal electoral process and their lack of de-legitimization efforts signaled their tame nature to the Egyptian government (Brown and Hamzawy 2010). In 2005, the MB decided to step-up involvement and slate 161 candidates, whilst still maintaining a non-threatening demeanor, assuring leadership that it was not audacious enough to seek a majority (Brown and Hamzawy 2010). If all 161 candidates had won, the MB would have controlled only a third of parliament (Brown and Hamzawy 2010). Although the government pursued intimidation tactics including mass arrests and thugs at election polls, the MB won 88 seats that year. In fact, the MB won two thirds of districts that saw contests between MB candidates and NDP candidates. After their 2005 electoral victory, the government gave the MB a serious ultimatum; if they were to pursue political inclusion further they would not be given the freedom to pursue non-political endeavors (Brown and Hamzawy 2010). The MB refused to abandon both political participation and social work (Brown and Hamzawy 2010). They accordingly subjected themselves to the regime’s attempts to push them out and continued to practice further caution. The MB never fielded candidates for leadership of unions as a part of an understanding with the government that the posts were to be reserved for NDP members (Al-Anani 2015). They also avoided running candidates in the same district as prominent NDP candidates (Al-Anani 2015). The Brotherhood never missed a chance to cooperate with authorities despite crackdowns and arrests. After the Iraq invasion, the MB cooperated with the government and organized an antiwar rally preserving national unity in the face of foreign occupation (Ghobashy 2005). On Feb 6th, 2011, the Vice President at the time, Omar Suleiman, invited the MB to the table to discuss political reform and the MB leaders accepted. MB youth and other revolutionary figures including Mohamed Al-Baradei refused the initiative to negotiate as long as Mubarak remained in power. Although The Brotherhood participated in demonstrations and joint efforts, the group was quite cautious and did not organize anti-government rallies like other opposition forces. The Brotherhood would often hold back from participating in street demonstrations organized by opposition leaders and described the anti-regime rhetoric used as being “too strong” and “rude” (Brown and Hamzawy 2010:9). This attitude of caution caused other parties to mistrust the MB, resulting in short lived alliances. They were even accused by the leaders of the Kifaya movement (a youth opposition movement) of “cheap talk and little action” (Brown and Hamzawy 2010:9). While other movements were determined to abolish the “red lines”, the brotherhood opted to work within the lines, preaching “participation not domination”. The Brotherhood had even prepared a draft to clarify its position on several controversial issues but refrained from releasing a final draft in the face of government crackdowns in 2007. Another exemplification of the cautious attitude was the call made by the younger generation of The Brotherhood for confrontation and a pro-change sweeping campaign by the name of “New Egypt”; this was vetoed by central leadership and was seen as unacceptable. Most other parties had a primary focus on politics, while the MB concerned itself with broad social activities of different orientations and purposes (Brown and Hamzawy 2010). This pushed them


to be cautious, anxious and fearful of instigating repression. They did not see it appropriate to risk everything in a confrontation with the regime. It did not help that government treatment of Islamists was infamously harsher and included years of unjust imprisonment in comparison to opposition actors of a secular orientation being “roughed up” (Brown and Hamzawy 2010:14). MB leaders were famous for their attitude towards time, always focusing on long-term goals, and meeting crackdowns and rejection “slowly,” “rationally” and “cautiously” (Brown and Hamzawy 2010:4). The historical targeting of the Egyptian government of the MB forced it to adopt a strategy of self-preservation. Leaders recognized the widely dominant view within the group that the MB should focus on sustaining organizational solidarity and working towards social and religious aspects of activism in the face of repression rather than expend energy on futile political attempts. The MB opted out from flashy organizational work and instead took a more gradual approach to preserve its organizational existence in the face of a closing political environment (Brown and Hamzawy 2010). Although crackdowns reached record highs, The Brotherhood never played the de-legitimation card and instead stood by their commitment to a “democratic” transition.

Post January 25th Opportunism From the very beginning, the SCAF included the MB in the post January 25th transitional period; a senior member of the MB was included in an eight-member committee to reform the constitution on February 15th 2011. This move was criticized by members of other parties and was seen as an unfair advantage for the MB (Wickham 2013). Although they committed to only run for less than 50% of parliament seats, the FJP fielded candidates for most of the seats, and insisted that only 30% of those running “had a real chance of success” (Wickham 2013:278). On March 19th a popular referendum was held by the SCAF; the referendum consisted of constitutional amendments recommended by the SCAF-appointed committee (the one with an MB representative in it), including a timeline for the transfer of power from the military to a civilian elected government (Wickham 2013). Parliamentary elections would be held in six months, the members of parliament would then elect a one hundred-member committee to draft a permanent constitution, and once the draft was approved, presidential elections would be held (Wickham 2013). Many opposed this timeline, arguing that it did not give newly formed parties, particularly ones formed by leaders of the uprising, sufficient time to establish themselves and cultivate support (Wickham 2013). They feared it would advantage better-organized groups in the constitution drafting process, because they would be overrepresented in parliament (Wickham 2013). Being quite aware of their advantage, the MB strongly supported a “yes” vote in the referendum (Wickham 2013). They waged a campaign implying that a vote against the amendments was a vote against Islam, on the premise that a non-parliamentary body could remove Article 2 of the constitution, which identifies Shari’a as the primary source of legislation (Wickham 2013). Voter turnout was 18 million with an overwhelming 77% voting in favor of the amendments (Wickham 2013). On March 28th the SCAF issued a revised political parties law, outlining the rules for the formation of new parties (Wickham 2013). The law retained the ban on parties established on the basis of religion and social class, and added a clause requiring new parties to register five thousand members from at least ten governorates then publish their members’ names in two daily newspapers (Wickham 2013). The estimated cost of purchasing two ads of the required size in daily papers, combined with the costs of establishing an office and promoting the party’s platform is somewhere between $100,000–$250,000 (Wickham 2013). This clearly advantaged well-established groups with existing resources. On June 6th, 2011, the Freedom and Justice Party received official legal status. The MB’s spokesperson stressed that the FJP would be completely independent of the organization but would consult on important policy decisions (Wickham 2013). With a long history of Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 75


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 76 grassroots outreach and a widely popular base in Cairo and the rural towns of the Delta, the MB were positioned to do well in the parliamentary elections from the get go.

RESOURCE MOBILIZATION THEORY Resource Mobilization theory (RMT) views movements as rational, organized manifestations of collective action (Wiktorowicz 2004). According to RMT, the collectivization of individual grievances into a social movement requires a combination of resources and mobilizing structures, which could be in the form of official social movement organizations (SMOs) (Wiktorowicz 2004). The MB as an established entity is itself an SMO; Resource Mobilization accounts for the role of vote collection played by the organization. As aforementioned, prior to 2011, the MB was preoccupied with self-preservation and enhancing its social clout. The Muslim Brotherhood utilized the gap in social welfare caused by the Mubarak regime’s implementation of neoliberal economic policies in the 1980’s (policies that left the population deprived) and established Islamic Social Institutions (ISI’s), linking social activism to political activism (Clarke 2003). The Brotherhood founded medical clinics, educational centers and Islamic schools to fill the gaps in social services and cater for the needs of impoverished areas (Al-Anani 2015). This caused its social base to increase exponentially in the 1980’s and 1990’s, and in turn helped the movement’s political cause, leading to electoral gains (Al-Anani 2015). With a deep knowledge of the ills of Egyptian society the MB sought to appeal to societal concerns offering services in impoverished areas such as selling meat at wholesale prices, offering subsidized school supplies, offering after-school lessons and helping with medical treatments. Through their service provisions, they were able to detect corruption and build narratives to garner political support for parliament (Brown and Hamzawy 2010). The group deployed its extensive experience in providing services and charity to build constituency, and augment its parliamentary oversight activities (Brown and Hamzawy 2010). While the government passed laws restricting the MB’s electoral victories, it could not shut down their established social institutions for fear of public outrage and in fact utilized the MB’s social provisions as an excuse to evade its welfare duty (Blaydes 2010). With a well-established infrastructure in lower-middle class and poor neighborhoods in urban centers as well as towns in the Delta and Upper Egypt, in addition to a significantly large number of campaign volunteers, the MB was able to garner voters more effectively than its rivals (Wickham 2013). The volunteers consisted mostly of youth who had benefited from the MB’s social services along the years and were thus quite loyal (Wickham 2013). Morsi scored highest in provinces where organizational and family networks brought the vote (Wickham 2013). He also won the majority of his votes from impoverished provinces in Upper Egypt (Wickham 2013). During parliamentary elections, the MB’s volunteers also maintained a strong presence during the voting process, with representatives present at polling stations, answering potential voters’ questions about the party and parliamentary candidates (Wickham 2013). However, the MB’s parliamentary successes were not limited to rural or impoverished areas, in fact they out-performed secular rivals in the affluent district of Zamalek. Interviews with voters indicated that the MB’s long tradition of providing social services in economically disadvantaged areas was its main appeal (Al-Anani 2015). While the success of the Salafist Nour party in the parliamentary elections might indicate the population’s inclination towards Islamist movements, the defining factor possessed by both the FJP and the Nour party was farreaching accessibility in local networks and active participation in charity activities.


FRAMING Framing is concerned with the ideational factor utilized in social movements. The theory is concerned with methods of conceptualizing collectivity, particularly the construction of meaning to attract recruits and the usage of language and symbolic schema to achieve the collective mobilization of the movement’s participants and supporters (Wiktorowicz 2004). Framing, in association with Resource Mobilization, helps understand the MB’s ability to maintain a large, loyal following, in addition to its appeal to other factions (ones who did not benefit from the group’s social services) of the Egyptian population. The MB advertised Islam as the solution to socioeconomic and political ills, claiming that its values were the embodiment of democracy due to provisions requiring the consultation of the people (Ghobashy 2005). The MB’s Islamic outreach activities changed the relationship between the state and the individual, making political reform a moral and religious obligation required by God. Islamic outreach also created a form of psychic empowerment, banding individuals together on a holy crusade to fight corruption and bring justice to the land. By appealing to what society held dearest (religion), the new ethic of social engagement, tying religiosity to an obligation to participate in social and political reform, enabled the MB to establish a loyal following. A 2010 Pew Research Centre poll indicated that 85% of the Egyptian population viewed Islam as a positive force in the political sphere, a clear indication of popular attitudes towards separation of “church and state”; it is notable to mention that the numbers produced by the poll do not indicate the degree in which individuals believe religion should be ingrained in politics (Wickham 2013). The MB used local networks and easily understood, local vocabulary to connect with constituents. The Ikhwan used slogans such as “Islam is the solution” and often cloaked their own political interests with a cloud of religious terminology (This is discussed in the “Post January 25th Opportunism” section of the paper, when the MB needed yes votes for the referendum post January 25th) (Wickham 2013:278). Vote collection is about visibility and presence; no one achieved more visibility and had a stronger presence within communities than the MB. They reinforcement their influence through intensive, small-group solidarity at the grassroots level. The group established the FJP as a “civil party with an Islamic frame of reference” (Wickham 2013:175). The FJP even declared that its primary objective was not to gain power, but to “enhance Islamic morals, values and concepts in individuals’ lives and society” (AlAnani 2015:532). However, the MB did not merely depend on an appeal to religion to get votes. Ghobashy (2005) analyzes the transformation of party values and the public denunciation of Sayyid Qutb’s conservative ideology in 1969 and describes it as the “Godesberg effect” (referring to the German experience) or an appeal to the median voter in an effort to achieve voter maximization. The MB exhibit a clear priority shift: While Shari’a was at the top of their agenda in the 1990’s in parliament, by the early 2000’s legal and political reform, socioeconomic policies and human rights violations became their top priorities (Brown and Hamzawy 2010). The Brotherhood’s MP’s were preoccupied with parliamentary debates on constitutional amendments, political freedoms, and socioeconomic reform at the expense of Shari’a. While religious and moral platform enjoyed a formative role in the MB’s parliamentary agenda prior to 2000, the group adjusted its stance to garner voter support and adjusted their terminology accordingly. While they still used religious jargon they also incorporated more general slogans such as the “We bring good for Egypt” used together with its “Democratic Alliance” partners during the 2012 parliamentary elections (Wickham 2013:278).

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CONCLUSION The Muslim Brotherhood entered politics without being co-opted or corrupted and showed ability to articulate detailed proposals for reform. However, the allure of its agenda is only half the story. This paper outlines the main reasons behind its rise to power. The movement’s electoral success in 2012 was a result of a combination of various factors, primarily the quick and organized mobilization of the movement’s supporters, which was a result of decades of internal organizational consolidation, facilitated by the environment post 2011. The MB’s ability to survive the repression of the Mubarak era and in turn possess the ability to maintain a high degree of internal organization is attributed to its ability to balance between the “regime game” and vote collection (Ghobashy 2005:376). The political opportunity structure addresses the “regime game” strategy of the group, which consisted of strategic adaptability and a conservative, non-confrontational, accommodative stance when dealing with state institutions. With the Egyptian government’s semi-authoritarian “red lines” always shifting, the MB always strategized and adapted around the regime’s “law of the day” (Brown and Hamzawy 2010:5). The Ikhwan directed their focus on quiet social and educational projects rather than on noisy political struggles and mobilized resources to establish a strong and loyal support base, with a long-term vision and immense patience. The MB’s appeal to religion also played a major role in the process of vote collection, ensuring that indoctrinated youth would remain loyal, believing the Ikhwan’s cause was a religious duty. It can thus be concluded that the Muslim Brotherhood’s 2012 electoral victory was mainly due to its successful historical balance between regime pacification and vote collection, the loyal support base as well as utilization of political openings post January 25th. While exogenous factors somewhat explain the Ikhwan’s victory in the presidential elections and its superiority over newly established parties during the parliamentary elections, the MB’s utilization of political opportunity throughout its existence and its demeanor of operating within the lines as well as its significant presence in communities explain its superiority over other established parties such as the Wafd party. However short-lived their victory, the Muslim Brotherhood were able to manipulate the game to their advantage, however they were unable to adjust to their role as a dominant power rather than an oppressed opposition group “fighting for God’s justice”.

References Brown, Nathan J. and Amr Hamzawy. 2010. Between Religion and Politics. Beirut, Lebanon: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Al-Anani, Khalil. 2015. “Upended Path: The Rise and Fall of Egypts Muslim Brotherhood.” The Middle East Journal 69(4):527–43. Al-Awadi, Hesham. 2013. “Islamists in Power: The Case of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.” Contemporary Arab Affairs 6(4):539–51. Blaydes, Lisa A. 2010. Competition Without Democracy: Elections and Distributive Politics in Mubaraks Egypt. Brown, Nathan J. 2012. When Victory Is Not an Option: Islamist Movements in Arab Politics. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Clark, Janine A. 2003. Islam, Charity, and Activism: Middle-Class Networks and Social Welfare in Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. El-Beshry, Tarek. 2013. “Relationship Between State and Religion: Egypt After the Revolution.” Contemporary Arab Affairs 6(3):404–21.


El-Ghobashy, Mona. 2005. “The Metamorphosis of the Egyptian Muslim Brothers.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 37(3):373–95. Munson, Ziad. 2001. “Islamic Mobilization: Social Movement Theory and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.” The Sociological Quarterly 42(4):487–510. Wickham, Carrie Rosefsky. 2002. Mobilizing Islam: Religion, Activism, and Political Change in Egypt. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. Wickham, Carrie Rosefsky. 2013. The Muslim Brotherhood: Evolution of an Islamist Movement. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Wiktorowicz, Quintan. 2004. Islamic Activism a Social Movement Theory Approach. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Zubaida, Sami. 2010. Islam, the People and the State: Political Ideas and Movements in the Middle East. London, UK: I.B. Tauris.

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THE SEED OF CONTEMPT H elen Yang

Abstract Celiac disease (CD) is an immune reaction to eating gluten. The disease leads to impaired ability in absorption of water, fat, iron, and vitamin B12, due to the inflammation and degradation of cells along intestinal linings. More alarmingly, CD has been linked to type I diabetes mellitus, thyroid disease, and predisposition to malignancy in T-cell Lymphoma. However, CD only occurs in 1% of the population worldwide. On the other hand, non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is the more common and controversial dysfunction that has brought gluten insensitivity to the forefront of public discourse. Its rising prevalence is evident in the growing consumption of gluten-free diets (GFD), which had tripled in the United States over 2009 to 2014. The change may be caused by increased awareness and diagnosis, but they are certainly not the main driving forces. Through exploring the emergence, expansion, and effects of the gluten free market, this paper intends to discuss both the immunological and sociological influences and implications of the diet fad. Amidst ongoing debates surrounding both CD and NCGS, the gluten-free lifestyle exquisitely illustrates a hauntingly beautiful sense of ambiguity that is in all scientific and sociological endeavors, as it continues to challenge our understanding of individuality, diet consciousness, and equity.


IntrodUCtion People have attempted to study pure science in a desire to understand the universe void of bias. However, scientific inquiry, discovery, and understanding cannot be established in isolation from the unique experiences of both the individual and the society. British historian C. L. R. James once compared scientific discoveries to “the spermatozoa of social change” (Johnson 1944), suggesting that changes in the scientific community can stimulate changes in the social context of the broader society. I argue that social transformation is the oocyte of scientific discoveries because natural and social science simultaneously react, reshape, and refine each other. Rather than fabricating an artificial vacuum through the elimination of influences from personal experience, institutional values, and social circumstances, one should embrace, acknowledge, and utilize the uniqueness of these sociological perspectives to not only recognize the bias and limitations that they inevitably bring forth, but to allow their interactions aid in the pursuit and apprehension of scientific phenomena. The early discovery of celiac disease and the rising popularity of gluten free lifestyles adequately illustrate this integrated nature. Through exploring the emergence, expansion, and effects of the gluten free market, this paper intends to discuss both the immunological and sociological influences and implications of the diet fad.

EMERGENCE Celiac Disease (CD) Little progress had been made in understanding the cause of what was then called “the coeliac affection”. It was first described by the Ancient Greek physician Aretaeus the Cappadocian as a malabsorption where the stomach becomes irretentive of the food (Albertson 2017). While certain diet therapies led to promising results, it wasn’t until the 1940s that gluten was unveiled as the seed of the issue by Dutch Pediatrician William Dicke (Albertson 2017). He discovered the association between relapsing diarrhea and wheat, after he observed reduced symptoms of malabsorption in children during the bread and cereal shortage of World War II. The symptoms re-occurred when bread was reintroduced into their diets post-war (Albertson 2017). Just as sociologist Pierre Bourdieu so eloquently suggested, sociology serves to reveal hidden social content (Caron and Brym 2012). Our current understanding of gluten sensitivity was made possible through analyzing the interplay between critical observation, scientific imagination, and socio-political influences. Dicke’s observations laid out the foundation needed for discovering the underlying mechanisms of Celiac Disease (CD). Turns out gluten is broken down into smaller protein fragments, gliadin, that are resistant to digestion. The dysfunctional tight junction barriers of the small intestinal epithelial lining in CD patients allow gliadin to enter (Lebwohl, Ludvigsson, and Green 2015). In the subepithelial space, tissue transglutaminase (TTG) chemically modifies gliadin for it to be sampled by a gatekeeper, the Macrophage (Petersen et al. 2014). HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8 molecules, characteristically expressed in CD patients, are specific tools that the Macrophages use to bind modified gliadin, and alert the adaptive immune system, specifically CD4 T helper (Th) lymphocytes (Petersen et al. 2014). Activated Th would then differentiate into gliadin-specific Th1 cells that release inflammatory cytokines for the recruitment of more lymphocytes, and stimulate B cells to secrete specific IgA Antibodies, including Anti-TTG for attack (Petersen et al. 2014). Screening for these elevated Anti-TTG IgA or IgG levels in blood assists in diagnosing CD patients (Lebwohl et al. 2015). Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 81


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 82 Additionally, when foreign molecules enter the cell, damage to the epithelial lining is expressed through stress-signaling proteins MIC-A and MIC-B (Petersen et al. 2014). Released Interleukin-15 (IL-15) recruits CD8 Intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs), specialized cells of the adaptive immune system (Lebwohl et al. 2015). In response to IL-15, however, it carries out a nonspecific, innate immune response expressed by NKGD2—the receptor for MIC-A and MIC-B that allows IELs to recognize and destroy the epithelial cells (Lebwohl et al. 2015). As a result, CD patients experience impaired ability in absorption of water, fat, iron, and vitamin B12, because of the inflammation and degradation of cells along the intestinal lining (Lebwohl et al. 2015). Signs of lymphocytes infiltration, crypt hyperplasia, and villous atrophy can be confirmed through an upper endoscopic biopsy to develop a diagnosis (Lebwohl et al. 2015). Unfortunately, the effect of CD is not limited to the GI tract, nutritional deficiency can manifest as anemia, epilepsy, depression, etc (Smith and Gerdes 2012). Some patients may experience Dermatitis Herpetiformis, or inflammation and rash on the surface of the skin (West et al. 2014). More alarmingly, CD is also linked to type I diabetes mellitus, thyroid disease, and predisposition to malignancy in T-cell Lymphoma (Lebwohl et al. 2015).

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) The more common type of gluten intolerance is non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). It presents itself with similar manifestations such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome-Diarrhea (IBS-D) including abdominal pain, bloating, and fatigue due to gluten intake (Aziz, Hadjivassiliou, and Sanders 2015). This condition is often associated with the greater bowel permeability to gluten in IBS-D patients, and is made more prominent in those individuals who express HLA-DQ2 or 8 genes (Aziz et al. 2015). Unlike CD, it is not linked with abnormalities of the gut structure and biochemistry (Aziz et al. 2015). While the mechanism for the genesis of NCGS is unknown, interest for this condition grew in 2011 when the double-blind, placebo-controlled (DBPC) study led by Dr. Biesiekierski (2011) found that some IBS patients experienced NCGS, which seemed to indicate gluten’s capability to cause illness in non-CD patients. The same group, however, concluded with conflicting results from another study published later in 2013 that showed a stronger correlation between low FODMAPs (Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) diets and symptom alleviation in self-diagnosed NCGS patients (Biesiekierski et al. 2013). Meanwhile, gluten demonstrated little or no effect in vitro (Biesiekierski et al. 2013). Currently, no consensus has been reached for whether adverse responses to FODMAPs qualify as gluten sensitivity, the manner through which NCGS should be classified and verified in selfdiagnosed patients is still subject to debate as well. It is also important to note that the small sample sizes used for both studies likely put the generalizability of said findings into question. Nevertheless, though the results might not be statistically significant, they generated change in mass behavior, thus carry sociological significance.

EXPANSION Market Growth The recent rapid expansion of the gluten-free industry far exceeded the scope of its medical applicability, as CD occurs in only 1% of the population worldwide (Kim et al. 2016). While this percentage remains relatively constant, the consumption of gluten-free diets (GFD) in the United


States tripled over 2009 to 2014 (Kim et al. 2016). Although the drastic growth may be caused by increased awareness and diagnosis of celiac disease and clinically-diagnosed NCGS, they are certainly not the main driving forces. It almost seems as though the knowledge of consuming gluten is inducing a growing psychological discomfort of the mind and body, creating an intolerance as strong as those which trigger the physical discomfort of the gut. I can’t help but wonder what planted this seed of contempt, and how it would sprout. Therefore, rather than debating the validity of selfdiagnosed NCGS, an inquiry into the possible causes and effects of this gluten induced psychological, emotional, and physical distress would be more apt of a pursuit.

Immunological Approach

Figure I: Incidence of Infectious and Autoimmune Diseases. Adapted from Bach, Jean-François. 2002. “The Effect of Infections on Susceptibility to Autoimmune and Allergic Diseases.” The New England Journal of Medicine 347:911-920.

As shown in the Figure I, an inverse relationship between the incidence of infectious diseases and incidence of autoimmune diseases can be observed between 1950 to 2000 (MacPherson, Austyn, and Hammelehle 2012). In other words, our susceptibility to autoimmune and allergic diseases have risen over time; CD, for example, increased more than fourfold in the past sixty years (Kim et al. 2016). As illustrated, increased occurrence of the disease may be one of the minor contributors to the growth in GFD consumption.

Sociological Approach From a feminist perspective, the rapid adaptation and self-prescription of GFDs may be a temporary manifestation of the blind fascination to weight loss in modern society, perpetuated by a skewed media portray of an “ideal” body type.Adopting a symbolic interactionalist perspective, imaginary food intolerances provides a sense of self-importance that allows the individual to extract deeper meaning from this social phenomena. By indulging in a specific dietary restriction, individuals can distinguish themselves as a unique and separate entity from the public; this is yet another way for people “to feel special in the prevailing ‘me’ culture” (Cohen 2015:7). Nevertheless, it also paints an underlying tone of irony as one attempts to fulfill such a need through participating in a fad. Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 83


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EFFECTS Controversy on Health While the true implication of the increasing adoption of a gluten-free lifestyle remains unclear, it is certain that this phenomenon raises sociological controversies that are worth exploring. Those individuals who pursue a GFD, regardless of the rationality of their decision, are likely more diligent on maintaining a healthier lifestyle. One of the factors that could mislead individuals to self-diagnose NCGS are the alleviated symptoms of fatigue most likely caused by a decreased consumption of refined carbohydrates when on a GFD, rather than the reduction of gluten itself (Green and Jones 2016). Nonetheless, this implies that gluten-free individuals become more conscious of the type and amount of their carbohydrate intake. Despite the potential for a GFD to be healthy, depriving oneself of gluten does not come without its complications. Evolutionarily speaking, gluten has had a staple presence in the provision of energy and sustenance of health for much of the population over thousands of years. Sudden and complete elimination of gluten containing wheat, barley and rye leads to an imbalance in diet. For instance, gluten-free products (GFP) often contain lower fiber content and vitamins essential for supporting metabolic activities (Specter 2014). Unnecessary self-prescription of a GFD would, thus, be especially detrimental to children; malnutrition, for example can stunt growth and impair proper physical development. Moreover, to compensate for taste and texture, GFP manufacturers use additional sugar, salt, and fats (Specter 2014). As a result, those that purchase GFPs exclusively could experience an increased intake of processed foods that are not necessarily healthier than a diet of natural ingredients. Lastly, it is important to note the difference between consciousness and obsession. Unfortunately, excessively strict diets, such as GFDs, may encourage the development of orthorexia nervosa—the co-occurrence of eating and anxiety disorders due to an obsessive pursuit for “the healthy diet”.

Controversy on Equality A functionalist would suggest that growth of individuals embracing the gluten-free lifestyle fosters social stability and cohesiveness that is promoted by the high degree of social tolerance, acceptance, and ceration for the variety of dietary restrictions. Nonetheless, equality in the market provision of diverse dietary options does not correspond to the apparent inequitable accessibility. Indeed, gluten-free products can be rather costly. This could promote a Marxist hierarchical social stratification, further reinforcing the health and wealth of the upper class, or those that are economically advantaged.

CONCLUSION The interplay between science and sociology remains significant throughout the emergence, expansion, and effects of the gluten-free diet phenomenon. Between the certainty of CD and ongoing debates of NCGS, the gluten-free lifestyle exquisitely illustrates a hauntingly beautiful sense of ambiguity that is in all scientific and sociological endeavors. Being viewed as both an expression of individuality and manifestation of a social fad, it brings awareness to the progression of diet consciousness to obsession, and highlights the critical distinction between equality in provision and equity in accessibility. As we continue to question, inquire and investigate the gluten-free lifestyle,


one must hope that somewhere in between these potential health complications lies a delicate balance to be found.

References Albertson, Michael. 2017. “History of Celiac Disease”. March 1, 2017 (https://www.uclahealth.org/ gastro/celiac/history-of-celiac-disease). Aziz, Imran, Marios Hadjivassiliou, and David S. Sanders. 2015. “The Spectrum of Noncoeliac Gluten Sensitivity.” Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology 12(10):516–526. doi:10.1038/nrgastro.2015.107. Bach, Jean-François. 2002. “The Effect of Infections on Susceptibility to Autoimmune and Allergic Diseases.” The New England Journal of Medicine 347:911-920. Biesiekierski, J.R., E.D. Newnham, P. M. Irving, J.S. Barrett, M. Haines, J.D. Doecke, S. J. Shepherd, J.G. Muir, and P.R. Gibson. 2011. “Gluten Causes Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Subjects without Celiac Disease: A Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial.” The American Journal of Gastroenterology 106(3):508–514. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2010.487. Biesiekierski, J. R., S. L. Peters, E. D. Newnham, E., O. Rosella, J. G. Muir, and P. R. Gibson. 2013. “No Effects of Gluten in Patients with Self-Reported Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity After Dietary Reduction Of Fermentable, Poorly Absorbed, Short-Chain Carbohydrates.” Gastroenterology 145(2):320–328. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2013.04.051. Caron, C. O. and R. Brym. 2012. Commit Sociology: Introduction To Sociology. 1st ed. Vol. 1. Toronto, ON: Nelson Education. Cohen, R. 2015. “This Column Is Gluten-Free”. International New York Times, Oct 19. Retrieved March 6, 2017 (https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/20/opinion/this-column-is-gluten-free. html). Green, P. and R. Jones. 2016. “The Truth About Gluten-Free Diets”. Los Angeles Times, June 9. Retrieved March 6, 2017 (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-green-jones-glutenfree-diet-20160609-snap-story.html). Johnson, J.R. 1944. “The American People in ‘One World’.” New International X(7):225–230. Kim, H. S., K. G. Patel, E. Orosz, N. Kothari, M. F. Demyen, N. Pyrsopoulos, and S. K. Ahlawat. 2016. “Time Trends in the Prevalence of Celiac Disease and Gluten-Free Diet in the US Population: Results From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 2009-2014.” JAMA Internal Medicine 176(11):1716–1717. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.5254. Lebwohl, B., J. F. Ludvigsson, and P. H. R. Green. 2015. “Celiac Disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity.” The BMJ 351:h4347. MacPherson, G., J. Austyn, and R. Hammelehle. 2012. Exploring Immunology. Weinheim, Germany: Wiley-Blackwell. Petersen, Jan, Veronica Montserrat, Jorge R. Mujico, Khai Lee Loh, Dennis X. Beringer, Menno van Lummel, Allan Thompson, M. Luisa Mearin, Joachim Schweizer, Yvonne Kooy-Winkelaar, Jeroen van Bergen, Jan W. Drijfhout, Wan-Ting Kan, Nicole L. La Gruta, Robert P. Anderson, Hugh H. Reid, Frits Koning, and Jamie Rossjohn. 2014. “T-Cell Receptor Recognition of HLA-DQ2-Gliadin Complexes Associated with Celiac Disease.” Nature Structural and Molecular Biology 21(5):480–488. doi:10.1038/nsmb.2817. Smith, D. F. and L. U. Gerdes. 2012. Meta‐Analysis on Anxiety and Depression in Adult Celiac Disease. Acta Psychiatr Scand 125(3):189–193. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2011.01795.x.

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Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 86 Specter, Micheal. 2014. “What’s So Bad About Gluten? Against the Grain: Should You Go GlutenFree?”. New Yorker, Nov 3. Retrieved March 6, 2017 (https://www.newyorker.com/ magazine/2014/11/03/grain). West, J., K. M. Fleming, L. J. Tata, T. R. Card, and C. J. Crooks. 2014. “Incidence and Prevalence of Celiac Disease and Dermatitis Herpetiformis in the UK over Two Decades: Population-Based Study.” The American Journal of Gastroenterology 109(5):757–768. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2014.55.


THEORY AND CRITICAL REFLECTIONS

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Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 88

ARE WE MOVING TOWARD OR AWAY FROM INNOCENCE? Jing M eng (Amy) Bi

Abstract This article is a reflection of Tuck and Yang’s (2012) work on North American settlers’ attempts to reconcile colonial history and mitigate settler guilt, of which they coined the term “settler moves to innocence”. These “moves” view decolonization as merely a concept and disregard the physical land. I also reflect Patel, Moussa and Upadhyay’s (2015) work on settler complicity and discuss the roles of settlers of colour. A feminist language is adopted as the settlers are embodiments of the heteropatriarchal settler state. Finally, I conclude with the unattainability of total innocence and hope to spark more conversations. Keywords settler colonialism, decolonization, Indigenous land


On the surface, decolonization1 sounds like a wonderful thing—an ultimate solution to undo colonial violence. However, given the intersecting systems of domination and the white, heteropatriarchal nation-state, repatriation of land is not enough. According to Tuck and Yang (2012), the so-called process of “decolonization” expressed by the state is not real, rather, it is a metaphor for the settlers to move toward appearing innocent and shall be referred to throughout this paper with quotation marks. “Decolonization” does not return sovereignty of land back to Indigenous people, but does the exact opposite: furthers settler colonialism. Using the six moves to innocence, the white settler2 and his accomplice (the settler of colour) claim reconciliation, but deep-down and structurally, are they really moving toward innocence? What is the connotation of this innocence? What happens when the issue is real, but the solution is an ideology? To understand decolonization, one must first understand colonization—specifically, white European settler colonization where the land has not only been exploited but stolen to serve as a new home. The process is violent, incommensurably complex, and most important of all, real. Indigenous land has been physically taken, but “decolonization” as presented by the state is an intangible, constructed metaphor involving a set of words and beliefs. The settler says, “I’m the hero who fights against the rest of my people” (fantasizing adoption); claims, “I have some Indigenous blood in me” (settler nativism); believes, “Once I free my mind from ignorance, everything will be okay” (conscientization); argues, “I’m a victim, too, and therefore can never be the oppressor” (colonial equivocation); but does nothing, and by doing so, fuels colonial efforts. Therefore, by adopting “decolonization” as a solution, the settler not only continues to settle, but also justifies and ultimately erases his settlement. The settler journey is completed when he has transformed from the European man who came to this land into the “real American” who has always been. With North America erasing its history of colonial violence using the rhetorical concept of “decolonization”, what becomes the identity of its people? The European settler imagines himself as Indigenous, as if he had always belonged to the land and the land has always belonged to him. For example, in the Leatherstocking Tales (Cooper 2000), before the entire tribe of “Mohicans” die, they pass their identity to a heroic white man. The hero then adopts an Indigenous last name. The immigrants of colour imagine themselves as settlers, accepting the white settler’s invitation to exploit the “new land” while simultaneously denying their complicity and securing an innocent victimhood (Fellows and Razack 1998; Patel, Moussa, and Upadhyay 2015). The imagination of identity is made possible through colonial education and literatures, what Tuck and Yang (2012) would call historical hypnosis and Said (1993) would call knowledge production. Therefore, “American” (and also “Canadian”) is an imagined, constructed identity. Since the “real American” is constructed, it is reasonable to question the reality of his endgoal: innocence. First, it is essential to address the fact that settlers are not genuinely innocent: the colonialism that happened did happen. Second, the discussion of innocence is itself conflicted: the presence of the activist and the voice of the scholar are facilitated through intersecting institutions of 1 Decolonization is repatriation of land, but “decolonization” actions are attempts to appear innocent. It is the next—and perhaps final—step to completing white settler colonialism in North America. 2 The settler is written with masculine pronouns because the system is heteropatriarchal and the settler thrives within the system. This does not mean females cannot be oppressors, too. In a sense, by becoming complicit in settler colonialism, both the female and the immigrant of colour has adopted an identity of a middle-class, white, heterosexual male (the identity of the settler state), although they cannot quite embody him due to oppressions from other systems of dominance. Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 89


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 90 dominance. That is to say, the scholars are able to stand on this land, to educate themselves, to talk and be heard, because they benefit from the intersecting systems of oppression. For example, Patel et al. (2015), a Muslim woman, writes about racial and gendered violence toward her body while simultaneously realizing her own active participation in capitalism. She is able to receive an education in North America about colonial oppression, only because her family is “class-privileged, born-withforeign-passports Pakistanis” (Patel et al 2015:11). The irreversible history and intersecting complicity render innocence impossible. Then, what is the connotation of the settler moves to innocence masked by the term “decolonization” if both “settler” and “innocence” are constructed? The metaphoric “decolonization” moves the settler toward an imagined mental-state of inner peace, but where does that leave physical peace: the tangible land and fleshy bodies of the Indigenous people?

References Cooper, James F. 2000. The Last of the Mohicans: Volume 2. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press. Fellows, Mary Louise and Sherene Razack. 1998. “The Race to Innocence: Confronting Hierarchical Relations among Women.” Journal of Gender, Race, & Justice 1:335–352. Patel, Shaista, Ghaida Moussa, and Nishant Upadhyay, eds. 2015. “Complicities, Connections, and Struggles: Critical Transnational Feminist Analysis of Settler Colonialism.” [Special issue] Feral Feminisms 1(4):5–19. Said, Edward. 1993. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Tuck, Eve (Aleut) and K. Wayne Yang. 2012. “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, Society 1(1):1–40.


INTIMACY AND DISABILITY: HOW DISABLED PEOPLE NAVIGATE AND SUSTAIN PHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS IN AN ABLE-BODIED CONTEXT Madeleine D eWelles

Abstract This paper explores how certain prescribed statuses affect the interactions people have with others, as well as how relationships are formed and sustained. In particular, I focus on how visible, physical disabilities have the potential to skew the emotionally and physically intimate interactions people have with themselves and others in a predominantly able-bodied society. Using modern and classical theorists of sociology, I illustrate that exclusion and stigmatization are lived experiences of many disabled people. More importantly, I suggest that stigmatization and exclusion promote disabled people towards engagement in intimate relationships as a means of proving an identity of independence, thereby disproving the socio-cultural stigma of disability as synonymous with deviance and dependency. My paper concludes with a discussion of the social implications of the relationship between disability and emotional and physical disability in an able-bodied context. Namely, despite the exclusivity of the able-bodied culture, disabled people engaging in intimate relationships becomes a means of potentially shifting dominant socio-cultural practices away from the exclusion of disability and physical and emotional intimacy. Ultimately, engagement in intimate relationships amongst disabled people can be understood as a counter-cultural movement towards increased acceptance and inclusion of disabled people as they navigate and sustain emotionally and physically intimate relationships. Keywords disability, intimacy, counter-culture

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Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 92

Introduction In discussing interpersonal relationships, we should not overlook the relationship between the individual, others, and society. I am interested in how certain prescribed statuses affect the interactions people have with others, as well as how relationships are formed and sustained. I will therefore focus on how disabilities have the potential to skew the interactions people have with themselves and others in a predominantly able-bodied society. For the purposes of this paper, whenever I refer to disability or disabled people, I am specifically referring to those with visible, physical disabilities. Additionally, I will focus on a particular type of social interaction in my exploration: the formation of physically and emotionally intimate relationships. Further, while examining how social and cultural factors shape a predominantly able-bodied society’s views towards disability, I pose the following questions: what are the lived experiences of disabled individuals in entering and sustaining physically and emotionally intimate relationships? What do these experiences reveal about the positionality of disabled people within a predominantly able-bodied society? As I explore and ultimately answer these questions, I will adopt a symbolic interactionist perspective, focusing on and extending upon the ideas of primarily Simmel (2009), Goffman (1967), Blumstein (1991), and Katz (1999). Furthermore, in posing these research questions, I will illuminate how disability is a stigmatized identity, and how such stigma excludes disabled people—specifically their expressions of physical and emotional intimacy—within a society defined by able-bodiedness.

LITERATURE REVIEW Referring to social interactions, Garland-Thomson states that disability reflects “corporeal deviance,” which represents the opposite of “what bodies should be or do” (1997:6). I’m intrigued by Garland-Thomson’s term “corporeal deviance” as it relates to disability (1997). This conception of disability as corporal deviance reflects Goffman’s (1963) term “master status,” where one’s most prominent identity overpowers all other identities a person might have. Though Goffman (1963) does not specify that a master status has to be a visible, physical condition, I would argue that physical and visible disabilities reflect not only master statuses, but might turn into deviant statuses which then turn into stigmatized identities. In other words, a disabled, corporeally deviant status might become the only aspect of an individual that, from a socio-cultural perspective, matters in a social interaction. Low (2009) also discusses how disabled university students navigate university life, as well as their physical and emotional relationships with others. Low (2009) argues that for disabled university students, forming interpersonal relationships—intimate or non-intimate—while navigating university campuses is paradoxical. Essentially, in order to be accommodated, students depend on the university, but many students reject this dependent (disabled) identity. Instead, they wish to be seen as independent (non-disabled) to enhance interpersonal relationships. Though Low’s (2009) work does not focus heavily on socially or physically intimate relationships, her discussion of asserting a nondisabled identity connects to Liddiard (2014) who finds that disabled people in socially and physically intimate relationships feel they must prove their worth towards able-bodied people. Furthermore, Erickson (2007) and Shildrick (2015) argue that, within an able-bodied society, the notion of disabled people in socially and physically intimate relationships is almost completely ignored. Therefore, disabled people in intimate relationships are excluded within a society defined predominantly by able-bodied emotional and physical intimacy standards, which fail to acknowledge that disability and intimacy need not be mutually exclusive. Turning to classical theories, Simmel (2009) discusses the dyadic relationship which refers to a simple connection between two people that is characterized by the highest degree of interdependence.


Thus, people in a dyadic relationship are highly dependent upon each other. Extending the notion of interdependence, Goffman (1967) provides insight into not only the composition of interactions, but also how they are sustained. Goffman asserts that interactions are comprised of both situated identity and definition of the situation (1967), which are important for how disabled people engage in impression management (Goffman 1959). According to Goffman (1959), impression management refers to how we both consciously and subconsciously shape the impressions we give to others, which then shape their perceptions of us. In essence, we create a self we desire others to see. Interestingly, disabled people might wish to give an impression of independence, which Goffman notes reflects more conscious actions as opposed to the more implicit, subconscious act of giving off an impression (1959). Therefore, the conscious giving of an impression becomes particularly important for disabled people when in contact with able-bodied people. By being consciously aware of how people conduct their actions, disabled people work to assert an impression of independence, and by extension, potentially have more power over the definition of the situation and maintaining the interaction. Blumstein (1991) asserts that intimate interactions shape the self through continuous, projected identities which come to ossify (or solidify) into the internalized self. Ossification has important implications for disabled people. To explain, in non-emotionally intimate interactions, the identity of disability, and perhaps dependence, may be projected in day-to-day interactions between disabled and able-bodied people. Therefore, this repeated projection of disability may be internalized within disabled people, which then may ossify into a disabled identity. Lastly, I will turn to Katz’s (1999) analysis of shame as the disconnection from one’s community, which arguably reflects the lived experiences of disability. For example, disabled people’s engagement in intimate relationships— physical and emotional—is not as widely accepted within an able-bodied community (Erickson 2007; Shildrick 2015). Thus, a sense of exclusion is likely felt amongst disabled people, especially as they navigate emotionally and physically intimate relationships.

ANALYSIS Beginning with Simmel (2009), the dyadic relationship is characterized by a high degree of interdependence. While mutual dependency is a key characteristic of the dyad, I wish to extend Simmel (2009) to explicate how interdependence should be desired. Returning to Low’s (2009) claim of disabled university students wishing to assert an identity of able-bodied independence, perhaps being in an interdependent relationship is undesirable for a disabled person. High levels of interdependence might undermine the projection of an independent self for a disabled person. Therefore, the intimate, dyadic relationship may not be sustained. Additionally, Goffman’s (1967) idea that situated identity and definition of the situation are key in social interactions connects to impression management (Goffman 1959) and “master status” (Goffman 1963). Essentially, by maintaining an impression of independence, disabled people attempt to reconstruct their identity away from the “master status” of disability towards an identity of independence and, therefore, an impression of ability. This impression of ability is strongly connected to the conscious giving of an impression rather than the subconscious giving off of an impression. Disabled people must consciously work to diminish the “master status” of disability, achieved by giving a clear impression of independence. Once independence is projected, disabled people may want to define the situation to assert their power over the situation, further reshaping their identities from those of dependence to those of independence. Turning to Blumstein (1991), intimate interactions reflect continuous projections of a specific identity that solidify (or ossify) the self, which develop into the internalized self. While Blumstein’s (1991) understanding of self-identity in physically and emotionally intimate relationships is valid, Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 93


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 94 we must consider how a disabled identity is already internalized through interactions with ablebodied people, even in non-intimate ways. As Garland-Thomson (1997) notes, many non-disabled people do not know how to interact with disabled people. Therefore, for the disabled person, repeated projections of uncertainty in relation to the non-disabled other may ossify into an understanding of the disabled self as dependent and potentially deviant. Further, this identity of deviance may deter disabled people from seeking and sustaining physically and emotionally intimate relationships. Expanding on deviance and disability, I will explore how a deviant identity is experienced for a disabled person within a predominantly able-bodied community. Katz argues that shame may be felt when people feel disconnected from their communities, and how such “isolation from community” may lead to a lack of community cohesion (1999:151). However, if disability is equated to deviance within a predominantly able-bodied culture, exclusion for a disabled person is likely frequent. Frequent exclusion may lessen the effects of shame on a disabled being, which does not contradict what Katz (1999) theorizes but indicates the conditionality of shame. Essentially, shame is likely strongest where people have previously felt high degrees of attachment within their communities; however, where disabled people frequently feel excluded within predominantly able-bodies communities, the impacts of shame may be weaker. As Liddiard (2014) found in her interviews with disabled university students, entering into a relationship with non-disabled peers is a means of proving oneself. Thus, for disabled people, being in a relationship with non-disabled people might signify movement away from disability, exclusivity, and shame, while moving towards ability, inclusivity, and pride. Ultimately, this analysis has shown that the experiences of disabled people entering and sustaining physically and emotionally intimate relationships reflect exclusion and stigmatization— especially in a society dominated by able-bodiedness. However, intimate relationships are not always synonymous with the exclusion of disabled people. Internalized feelings of exclusion and shame may promote disabled people towards forming physically and emotionally intimate relationships in order to reconstruct a disabled identity of dependence and inability towards one of independence and capability.

CONCLUSION: INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS AS COUNTER-CULTURAL PHENOMENA This exploration illustrates that exclusion and stigmatization are lived experiences of many disabled people. In part, this stems from disability being a “master status” and thus being stigmatized as deviant, dependent, and subject to exclusion from engagement in physically and emotionally intimate relationships. However, my analysis also shows that such exclusion may promote disabled people towards engagement in intimate relationships as a means of proving an identity of independence, thereby disproving the socio-cultural stigma of disability as synonymous with deviance and dependency. In terms of the social implications this exploration shows, despite the exclusivity of the able-bodied culture, disabled people engaging in intimate relationships becomes a means of potentially shifting dominant socio-cultural practices away from the exclusion of disability and physical and emotional intimacy. Thus, engagement in intimate relationships amongst disabled people can be understood as a counter-cultural movement towards increased acceptance and inclusion of disabled people as they navigate and sustain emotionally and physically intimate relationships.


References Blumstein, Philip. 1991. “The Production of Selves in Personal Relationships.” Pp. 305–322 in The Self-Society Dynamic: Cognition, Emotion, and Action, edited by J.A. Howard and P.L. Callero. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Erickson, Loree. 2007. “Revealing Femmegimp: A Sex-Positive Reflection on Sites of Shame as Sites of Resistance for People with Disabilities.” Atlantis: A Women’s Studies Journal 31(2):42–52. Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. 1997. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disabilities in American Culture and Literature. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. Goffman, Erving. 1959. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York, NY: Anchor Books. Goffman, Erving. 1963. Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc. Goffman, Erving. 1967. “Embarrassment and Social Interaction” in Interaction Ritual Essays on Face-to-Face Behaviour. Garolen City, NY: Anchor/Doubleday. Katz, Jack. 1999. How Emotions Work. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Liddiard, Kirsty. 2014. “The Work of Disabled Identities in Intimate Relationships.” Disability and Society 29:115–128. Low, Jacqueline. 2009. “Negotiating Identities, Negotiating Environments: An Interpretation of the Experiences of Students with Disabilities.” Pp. 236–250 in Rethinking Normalcy: A Disability Studies Reader, edited by T. Titchkosky and R. Michalko. Toronto, ON: Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc. Shildrick, Margaret. 2015. “Sex.” Pp. 164–166 in Keywords for Disability Studies, edited by R. Adams, B. Reiss, and D. Serlin. New York, NY: New York University Press. Simmel, George. 2009. “The Quantitative Conditioning of the Group.” Pp. 53–129 in Sociology: Inquiries into the Construction of Social Forms, edited by A.J. Blasi, A.K. Jacobs, and M. Kanjirathinkal. Boston, MA: Brill.

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RELIGION AND FANDOM Sofia Jelovac

Abstract This paper explores parallels between religious form, as outlined by Durkheim, and fandom through the dynamics of Coldplay and their Coldplayer fan base. The examination of the division of the sacred and the profane within the realm of fandoms and their interaction rituals through concerts and other forums, illustrates perhaps unexpected commonalities; in that fandoms and religious forms constitute and create forms of belief and meaning. This analysis of the Coldplay fandom invites further critical exploration of modern-day phenomenon in relation to religious form by examining devotion based, meaning-making processes.


Fandoms are composed of people who individually share and project common interest in a collective fashion toward a particular idolized figure located within everyday life. With the application of Durkheim’s theory of religion, one can discern many parallels between the realm of religion and that of fandom. Congruent with religion, fandoms comprise a fundamental division between the sacred and the profane: the idolized performer and the worshipping fans (Farganis 2004:74). Furthermore, fandoms are eminently social, and thus fans gather collectively in venues to express their devotion toward the performer. Lastly, this practice of gathering communally with fellow fans and the worshipped being brings a state of collective effervescence; a heightened mental condition surged with euphoric energy (Farganis 2004:79). Through the use of the example of the band Coldplay and their accompanying fandom known as the Coldplayers, I argue that fandoms are another form of belief and meaning that represent religious form as outlined by Durkheim, both of which are ultimately centered on devotion. Special qualities and beliefs instilled by Coldplay fans create a sacred status and fandom, which is distinguished by its division of the sacred and the profane (Farganis 2004:74). The profane domain consists of Coldplayers and their surrounding mundane world. Put another way, Coldplay is a ‘totem’, a symbol, for the clan of Coldplayers (Farganis 2004:75). The sacred character upheld by Coldplay is not intrinsic, but rather ‘superimposed’ by the fandom (Farganis 2004:78). Shared Coldplayer beliefs surrounding the nature of Coldplay mold a worldview centered on the worship of Coldplay music and their overall aesthetic. Furthermore, as put forth by Durkheim, the sacred cannot co-exist with the profane (Farganis 2004:74). Concert venues embody this dynamic through the physical separation between Coldplay and the audience. Security personnel continuously prevent contact between the sacred band and the fans. This separation enforced by security and the elevated stage creates an essence of untouchability, which further engrains the mystic and magical qualities of Coldplay. Concerts are rituals that interrupt profane everyday life (Löbert 2012:130). At the concert, the sacred object is present and thus there is a transition from profane to the sacred, an event that only occur in a communal dimension. Parallel with religion, fandoms are eminently social as Coldplayers must gather collectively to feel the effects of the communal experience (Farganis 2004:75). Rather than meeting at a church, Coldplayers reunite at concerts to reassert and share their common devotion for Coldplay. The concert ritual fosters an environment for the convergence of individual fans with the amassed Coldplayer worship (Löbert 2012:130). It is essential to note the distinction between primary interaction ritual, and secondary interaction ritual in relation to collectivity amongst Coldplayers (Löbert 2012:131). The concert ritual is a primary interaction ritual due to the live interaction between Coldplay and the fans. ‘Ceremonial’ costumes and props such as t-shirts and signage are essential elements of this interaction (Löbert 2012:131). Secondary interaction rituals, on the other hand, represent a collective meeting of Coldplayers that excludes the physical presence of the band. This type of worship can take place through various mediums, whether it be an in-person fandom meeting or an online fan page (Löbert 2012:121). Interestingly, fandoms present a point of divergence from Durkheim’s distinct division between the sacred and the profane. Outside of the collective assembly of Coldplay worship in concert ritual or via fan club meetings and websites, there also exists the realm of individual worship within the private domain. Listening to Coldplay and displaying collected Coldplay memorabilia within the private domain (i.e. the home) generates private beliefs, therefore creating a new realm within which there is a fusion of the sacred and the profane. While primary, secondary and private interactions all produce a certain effect; primary interaction rituals (concerts) bring about the most significant alteration in mental state. Concerts provide a meeting ground for Coldplayers and produce a state of collective effervescence (Farganis 2004:79). The communal environment engaging in common worship Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 97


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 98 occurring simultaneously with the live interaction of Coldplay produces a euphoric and joyful intoxication. The vivacious energy and rush of shared emotions create a certain “mental state” full of excitement (Farganis 2004:73). One cannot reach this mental state of effervescence within the individual, private realm. Instead, this idealization can only be achieved as a communal group (Farganis 2004:79). The joint passion and idealized state emerges at the concert, and consequently affects the fan’s experience both at the event and following the concert (Löbert 2012:132). The attainment of this collective effervescence is made possible due the ‘perpetual dependence’ between Coldplayers and Coldplay (Farganis 2004:76). The sacred object and totem, Coldplay, requires the immediate involvement from their fandom, which, together, create collective effervescence. Coldplay creates and performs material for fans to worship, which allows fans to shape their worldview with shared passion and devotion for Coldplay. Through the analysis of Coldplay and their fandom, it is evident that there are many parallels between Durkheim’s theory of religion and that of fandom. The division of the sacred and the profane within the realm of fandoms allows for primary interaction rituals via the concert, and secondary interaction rituals through other forums, all of which require the dependency between Coldplay and their fans. Fandoms and particularly, the ritual of the concert provide another form of belief and meaning representative of religious form based on devotion. Further analyses of fandoms in relation to Durkheim’s theory of religion may provide greater insight and understanding of modern-day social phenomena.

References Farganis, James. 2004. Readings in Social Theory: The Class Tradition to Post- Modernism. Boston: McGraw-Hill. Löbert, Anja. 2012. “Fandom as a Religious Form: On the Reception of Pop Music by Cliff Richard Fans in Liverpool.” Popular Music 31(1):125–141.


URBAN SOCIOLOGY

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REDEVELOPMENT OF REGENT PARK: IS SOCIAL MIX THE SOLUTION? Leanne G ruppuso

Abstract The revitalization of Regent Park in Toronto used a combination of both public and private funds to address issues including the deteriorated social housing units, and a lack of consultation between officials and residents in the community. The project was designed to be consistent with the characteristics of “social mixing,” which suggests that individuals of different incomes living in close proximity and interactive will lead to a reduction in the community’s social ills. There is some debate as to whether the revitalization of Regent Park was overall beneficial to the individuals within the community. This paper suggests that the entrepreneurial approach to funding and the introduction of high- and middle-income residents to Regent Park, while is successful at fixing architectural issues, does little to reduce the marginalization of low-income residents. Further, social mixing may open the area to gentrification which contributes to the exclusion of low-income residents in Regent Park. While entrepreneurial approaches may be an attractive option for cities such as Toronto that struggle to secure funding for large infrastructure projects, it can have shortcomings that primarily disadvantage low-income residents. This paper evaluates this method and its drawbacks, contributing to research about how the revitalization of Regent Park in Toronto and other similar infrastructure project may appear beneficial, but upon further investigation may stigmatize already marginalized populations in the city.


Introduction As Regent Park has undergone an expensive revitalization project, it has been completely rebuilt and transformed into a community that adheres to the attributes of “social mixing”. Social mix refers to an increase in income or socio-economic diversity in a neighbourhood (August 2008). I find this somewhat ironic because Regent Park was originally built to replace the original Cabbagetown neighbourhood that has been long labelled as a slum in Toronto. Regent Park was the “pioneer effort in Canadian slum clearance and urban renewal” (Purdy 2004:522). The belief behind this revitalization project is that if a clean, safe place for low-income families to live is provided, many of the social ills that plagued the original neighbourhood would disappear. This is exemplified in the video, “Farewell to Oak Street,” (2012) which showcases Toronto’s ambitions for Regent Park. It states there would be “no more slums, and no more broken marriages” after Oak Street was replaced with the newly constructed Regent Park. Unfortunately, not long after Regent Park was built, it was stigmatized as another urban slum and was considered a miserable failure by both policymakers and the public (August 2014). In the early 2000s, a plan for overhauling Regent Park was created, stating that a “brand new [community] will rise, with a socially mixed population, private and public housing, mixed land uses, and updated notions of urban design,” (August 2008:83). Regent Park is now composed of mixed-use areas that encompass both condos for middle-class residents as well as some public housing. This essay will explore the different narratives surrounding the revitalization of Regent Park regarding major issues and features of the renovation, and whether the persistent issues of the past have been appropriately addressed in terms of both the lack of public consultation, and the disrepair of the units. One issue was the level of consultation and planning that tenants of Regent Park have acquired and will continue to have on any repairs or plans for the neighbourhood (August 2014). While many of the issues regarding the old Regent Park have been due, in part, to the lack of consultation with tenants in the neighbourhood, residents were involved in the planning process when it was time to overhaul the entire project. The next major point of contention is the issue of funding for Regent Park. The switch from supporting the social mix projects to conservative governing which focused on cutbacks in spending on social projects, along with the devolution of the responsibilities for social housing to the City of Toronto strained systems that could not come up with enough money to fund the projects and Regent Park suffered great deterioration (Kelly 2013). When the City of Toronto assumed the responsibility for social housing in the city, Regent Park suffered from “chronic underfunding” (Kelly 2013:181). The apparent solution was for cities to take more entrepreneurial approaches to funding. However, entrepreneurial approaches to funding may lead to an increase of gentrification in Regent Park, another point of debate between critics and supporters of the community’s revitalization (August 2008). While introducing a plan to employ social mixing may help reduce stigma of Regent Park as an urban slum, critics have argued that it will lead to gentrification that excludes and further marginalizes lower-income residents of the neighbourhood (Ibid.). In this paper, I will evaluate the points of controversy regarding Regent Park. I argue that although the area was in great need of a revitalization to address major issues that have plagued the neighbourhood, there are drawbacks to the plan that may ultimately continue to stigmatize an already marginalized population in Toronto.

PUBLIC CONSULTATION (OR LACK THEREOF) Regent Park arose in place of both Oak Street and Cabbagetown, and it was part of an ambiguous plan to alter the architectural environment to address issues of poverty that were Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 101


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 102 prominent in the area (James 2010). Regent Park was created in order to tackle the housing shortage that Toronto experienced after the Second World War. It was a self-contained complex composed entirely of public housing that contained a great deal of green space but few through-roads (Ibid.). This project was designed exclusively by experts without any consultation with the public on the process, nor any community members represented on the Housing Authority of Toronto, the body in charge of the project (Purdy 2004). The lack of community discussion regarding the “slum clearance” and creation of Regent Park contributes to why the original Regent Park failed. Of course, experts have great knowledge regarding urban planning and effects of different planning models however, Regent Park was the first social housing project of its kind in Canada (Kelly 2013). Therefore, it would have been beneficial to consult with community members to inquire about the needs of the neighbourhood. For example, a major issue with the original Regent Park was a distinct lack of recreational facilities for the many children who lived in the area. The public pressured this issue in 1968 after a boy died on his way home to Regent Park from a distant swimming pool (Purdy 2004). Researchers have highlighted that city planners “do not typically have a good understanding of how young people fit into the planning process” (Laughlin & Johnson 2011:441). If the residents of this community had been consulted prior to the development of Regent Park, these issues of lack of play structures and facilities could have been potentially addressed. Who better to understand the needs of the community, than the community members themselves? If there is to be any chance of success in creating an entire neighbourhood, city officials must at least consider the opinions of those who live in the area. The manner in which Regent Park was first constructed without consultation from the public has led to a legacy of cynicism and distrust between the residents and decision-making bodies (James 2010). As a result, the new development of Regent Park needed to be different from the original creation, primarily in terms of planning consultation. The idea behind the renewal of Regent Park remained almost identical to the ideology of the original plan; the motivation behind creating a new environment was to remedy the poverty and stigma that had inundated the area (Ibid.). However, giving authority to community members and allowing them to contribute their personal expertise to the plan made all the difference in the outcome. Residents are able to take ownership over their housing during the planning process, completely moving away from the paternalistic planning process of the past. The plans for the new revitalization were approved by residents in the neighbourhood (James 2010). The approval of residents regarding the plans for revitalization of Regent Park ensures that the new Regent Park will be free from the issues that have overwhelmed previous redevelopments of Regent Park.

SOCIAL MIX The term ‘social mix,’ “implies income or socio-economic mix, sometimes with ethnic or racial mix as a subtext” (August 2008:83). The purpose of social mix is to lower significant concentrations of low-income households in a particular area (Kelly 2013). According to some researchers, high concentrations of low-income households are believed to be the cause of poor health, social isolation, and other social ills that are harmful to the community (Ibid.). Therefore, a goal of social mix is to diversify the socio-economic backgrounds within the community (Kelly 2013). These potential condo owners in Regent Park are “conceptualized in tandem with the moral redemption of the low-income housing tenant” (Kelly 2013:176). This means that the middle-income owners will essentially be social agents of change that will turn the low-income residents into clean, productive members of the neighbourhood. The other, less abstract and more utilitarian goal of social mixing is to diversify the employment base and bring economic security to the neighbourhood,


as well as provide community leaders for the area (August 2008). In the revitalized Regent Park, social mixing was accomplished by removing some of the public housing, and working with private developers to replace it with condominiums that will be sold at market value in addition to retail space, and amenities (James 2010). The brand new space with the addition of middle-income families to the neighbourhood is meant to eliminate previous issues such as crime and work to gradually reverse the stigma that had plagued Regent Park in the past. A consequential issue of social mixing and urban renewal in general, is that city planners or governments act as ‘moral authorities’ for the neighbourhoods they are overhauling (James 2010). Poor neighbourhoods have long been seen as “hotbeds for deviance and disease” in cities across North America, including Toronto (James 2010:71). In the past, there have been attempts to morally regulate residents, such as when the Toronto Housing Authority banned televisions in Regent Park in 1951, citing that “tenants in a publicly funded venture should not be able to afford these luxuries” (Purdy 2004:525). This effort to decide how residents spent their money helped to ostracize the already stigmatized community. Social mix may be a different approach to urban planning in Regent Park, but the efforts to morally regulate the lower-income inhabitants remain. There are also questions of whether meaningful relationships will be created between residents of different socio-economic statuses simply as a result of living in close-proximity (Kelly 2013). As noted by Kelly (2013), condominium lifestyle actually discourages residents from interacting with each other, favouring spatial segregation instead. If the middle-class residents are living in spaces that promote isolation from the community, then it is hard to imagine that there will be any meaningful interactions between them and those in the public housing as they are not likely to spend time with those residents. Therefore, the goal of using middle-income residents to instil new morals into the entire neighbourhood will not be realized as the middle-income residents will not actually interact with those in public housing. Instead of solving the social issues within Regent Park, social mixing just displaces these issues to other areas of the city, as would any urban renewal program that does not address the root causes of social ills within the neighbourhood. For years, Regent Park has served as a “drug spot” for downtown Toronto (August 2014:1329). It had a drug issue that contributed to the stigmatization of the area and the marginalization of all those who reside in the neighbourhood. This influx of drugrelated activities and other crime can be partly attributed to the lack of through-roads throughout the housing complex that allow for many areas to be secluded from outside traffic (James 2010). Areas secluded from outside traffic can facilitate drug activity and other crimes because these areas provide cover from potential witnesses and police presence (Ibid.). The infusion of social mixing in the redevelopment of Regent Park is supposed to solve the issues of crime that the neighbourhood contends with. However, this social mix is “not designed to address the root issues that drive racially marginalized low-income youth into dealing drugs” (August 2014: 1329). The developers and city planners that designed the revitalization of Regent Park were not concerned with finding solutions to the deep rooted social issues that are prevalent in the city. Instead, social mix is aimed at diluting Regent Park’s concentration of low-income households (Kelly 2013). While this may be a solution to lower crime in Regent Park, the crime is only displaced to other marginalized areas of the city. Unfortunately, the social mixing of an area cannot be described as a method to cure social ills, only to move them into other neighbourhoods at the expense of others. In addition to displacing crime to other communities, social mixing also dilutes the political power of the low-income residents in Regent Park. Residents that are a part of the public housing project have a long history of “[working] together to secure a modicum of dignity, self-respect, and progress in living conditions despite…the brutalizing stigma of their neighbourhood,” (Purdy 2004:521). In the 1950s, residents rejected the stigmatization of their neighbourhood and worked Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 103


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 104 to reject any negative labels (Ibid:525). Later in 1968, when the Toronto Star published a series of scathing articles criticizing the neighbourhood and its residents, the tenants once again rallied against this condemnation and highlighted the media as a key factor in contributing to their stigmatization (Ibid:528). Replacing a portion of the public housing with condominiums reduces the number of lowincome tenants in the neighbourhood which in turn, diminishes their collective voice. Although the old Regent Park had its issues, the residents had both mutual understanding and political power based on shared experiences of poverty (August 2014:1323). This collective understanding is lost with the introduction of middle-income residents into the community. As a result, it may be increasingly difficult for public housing tenants to mobilize support for issues they wish to address with the Toronto Community Housing Corporation. While social mix may prove to be beneficial in increasing the economic diversity of Regent Park, it may also weaken the political power of low-income residents who regularly face marginalization.

PRIVATIZATION AND GENTRIFICATION Despite offering potential benefits for communities, social mix can also be considered as another form of gentrification. The plans to bring social mix to Regent Park has been criticized by some for “introducing gentrification ‘by stealth’” (August 2014:1318). There is a particular type of gentrification that characterizes the overhaul of Regent Park coined “third-wave gentrification” by Neil Smith (Kelly 2013). It is described as “a neoliberal urban strategy meant to prime cities for investment in an era of heightened inter-urban competition,” (Kelly 2013:182). There are a number of reasons why Regent Park is experiencing third-wave gentrification. During the 1990s, the Canadian governments were emphasizing social spending cutbacks, privatization, and deregulation (August 2008). In Ontario, the responsibility for public housing was decentralized and given to municipalities (Kelly 2013). This move proved to be problematic because municipal governments simply do not have the taxing capabilities required to adequately fund social housing (James 2010). In response to this funding dilemma, municipalities started to take entrepreneurial approaches to receive backing for development projects (August 2008). The Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) partnered with developers to revitalize Regent Park consisting of approximately equal shares of both public and private investments (James 2010). Without the private investments, Regent Park would have remained in its state of decay. Tenants frequently complained of rodents in their units as well as general neglect of maintenance that occurred because of the persistent lack of funding (August 2014). The quality of life of the residents in Regent Park was seriously compromised by these unacceptable living conditions. Supporters of the revitalization project may see the privatization of the redevelopment as beneficial because it has allowed for the abysmal conditions of the previous public housing units to be addressed. Not only will low-income residents at Regent Park be able to maintain their dignity in clean living conditions, but updating to the housing structure may work to eliminate the stigma surrounding the community. Although the neighbourhood desperately needed the redevelopment, it did not come without its disadvantages. In return for private investments, some of the space was used to build condominiums. These condos will be sold at market value, which is well over what any low-income family could afford. Thus, low-income families will be excluded from that space. This is part of the process of introducing social mix into the area, and justifies “giving the right to space…to certain groups of people, while taking it away from others,” (August 2008:91). Social mix is usually only suggested for urban renewal projects in low-income neighbourhoods, not in middle-income neighbourhoods (August 2008). It is very unlikely that public housing is being proposed in high- and middle-income communities as a way of creating social mix. One can then conclude that the goal


of social mix may not necessarily be to promote social harmony, but to meet the economic goals of the city instead (Ibid:91). Introducing social mix to Regent Park will deconcentrate poverty, making private housing that will generate income in Regent Park more popular (August 2008). As put by a member of the community, Regent Park is “prime real-estate,” and thus the TCHC and developers are eager to take advantage of high real-estate prices (Ibid.:95). This trend is unlikely to stop with this neighbourhood either; as gentrification tends to spread to the surrounding areas and neighbourhoods (James 2010). Removing a portion of the public housing to allow this area in Regent Park to be redeveloped into condos may leave east downtown Toronto vulnerable to gentrification (Ibid.). The insertion of social mix into the community has brought about vital improvements to the physical structure within Regent Park including completely new public housing, but it has also created an opportunity for third-wave gentrification of the surrounding areas. Another criticism of introducing social mix in communities is that the method of urban renewal only creates the appearance of diversity in order to make cities more attractive for large investments. The 1990s saw a decrease in social housing funding by the federal and provincial government which led to the devolution of responsibility for housing projects to the municipalities (James 2010). This meant that cities shifted their focus from publicly funding public housing, to entrepreneurial approaches to social housing in order to compensate for the deficiency in funding. Cities were also competing with each other to appear as the most innovative, creative, and livable spaces (August 2008). Therefore, it made more sense to partner with private developers to create social mix spaces because they cost the government less than an entirely publicly funded venture, and give the community an updated, exciting vibe. This emphasizes how social mix may only lead to the image of diversity rather than actual diversity (Ibid.). The method of social mix for urban renewal does not address the deep-seated issues that are within low-income communities such as Regent Park. Moreover, municipalities such as Toronto that are trying to appear as world-class cities may view “public welfare spending is increasingly…an impediment to competitiveness,” and thus consider social mix as the perfect opportunity to appear diverse while avoiding the obligation to address challenging social issues (Ibid.:88). Social mix does provide the appearance of social harmony and diversity within communities however, it fails to address many of the larger issues that plague cities.

CONCLUSION The redevelopment of Regent Park in Toronto was desperately needed to address some of the major design flaws, such as the lack of through-roads, and neglected facilities that had been prevalent in the neighbourhood. However, there are mixed arguments regarding whether or not this revitalization did more harm than good to those who reside in the area. When Regent Park was first erected, the lack of public consultation not only created a divide between residents and developers, it also meant that the needs of the community were not properly represented or advocated in the planning process. During the design process of the renovation to Regent Park, tenants were involved throughout the entire development. This allowed public housing residents to feel a sense of ownership over their space as well as ensured that the needs of the community were not overlooked. Supporters of this urban renewal strategy argue that social mix is beneficial because it reduces the social ills in the area, creates less isolation for the marginalized low-income community, and replaces the decaying units that were barely habitable. On the other hand, critics assert that social mix does not address the social issues within Regent Park and instead, shifts the problem to other marginalized areas of the city. In addition, social mix comes at the cost of the political power of the low-income residents, as well as the gentrification of communities within Toronto. Gentrification does allow private investors to inject money into projects that could not be done solely with public money, but this comes at a Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 105


Undergraduate Sociology Journal • Volume I • 2018 106 cost. Gentrification justifies taking space away from marginalized residents, and does little to bring real social harmony to the area. Therefore, when examining the redevelopment of Regent Park, it is important to study both sides of the argument about the merits and drawbacks of utilizing social mix as a method of urban renewal for the neighbourhood. It is especially imperative that during this, and other projects to revitalize communities, efforts go beyond just changing the physical environment, but work to address the deep-rooted issues that stigmatize and marginalize low-income residents. Only once there have been strides to improve or completely tackle social issues in the area can the redevelopment of Regent Park be considered a success.

References August, M. 2014. Challenging the Rhetoric of Stigmatization: The Benefits of Concentrated Poverty in Toronto’s Regent Park. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space 46(6):1317– 1333. August, M. 2008. Social Mix and Canadian Public Housing Redevelopment: Experiences in Toronto. Canadian Journal of Urban Research 17(1):82–100. James, R. K. 2010. “From ‘Slum Clearance’ to ‘Revitalisation’: Planning, Expertise and Moral Regulation in Toronto’s Regent Park.” Planning Perspectives 25(1):69–86. Kelly, S. 2013., “The New Normal: The Figure of the Condo Owner in Toronto's Regent Park.” City and Society 25:173–194. Laughlin, D. L. and L. C. Johnson. 2011. “Defining and Exploring Public Space: Perspectives of Young People from Regent Park, Toronto.” Children's Geographies 9(3-4):439–456. McLean, Grant. 1953. “Farewell to Oak Street,” National Film Board. Retrieved November 10, 2017, (https://www.nfb.ca/film/farewell_oak_street/). Purdy, S. 2004. “By the People, for the People.” Journal of Urban History 30(4):519–548.


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