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The Social Construction of Deviance - Essay Example

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The goal of this paper is to discuss the social construction of deviance as it applies to a specific group of individuals. This group of individuals is categorized as obese. The following discussion will be conducted as though by a social constructionist…
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The Social Construction of Deviance
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Download file to see previous pages It can be said that one's behavior is "deviant" when it strays from cultural norms. In today's society, body weight and size are of great importance in terms of fitting in or being considered attractive. Obesity has become something that society as a whole, frowns upon. The market is flooded with diet pills, health food, diet books, medical procedures, gym memberships and exercise equipment. This has been the case for several decades but is increasingly more and more of a sociological issue. Being "thin" is synonymous with the institution of being attractive or socially accepted.
The first step to relating obesity to deviant behavior is to look at "who" is being labeled as deviant. Naturally, it is safe to assume for the purposes of this paper that any individual, who is of a body weight greater than what is "normal" for their height and bone structure, can be considered deviant. The definition of obesity declares that in order to be obese, one must weight 30 lbs or more above the acceptable weight for their height and bone structure, to be considered obese, "Approximately 127 million adults in the U.S. are overweight, 60 million are obese (Body Mass Index or BMI > 30) and 9 million are extremely obese (Body Mass Index or BMI > 40)" ( These acceptable weights are listed in body mass indexes and can be found in almost any physician's office.
When we observe that individuals who can b...
This is the social norm that has been deviated from by individuals who are said to be obese.
Next, let us examine who is constructing obese individuals as being deviant. In other words, let us discuss who is setting these social norms that are being deviated from and who is deciding that individuals who are obese are in fact deviating or socially deviant. "In 1991, only four of 45 states participating in the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System had obesity prevalence rates of 15 to 19 percent and none had obesity prevalence rates greater than 20 percent" ( According to this statement, the CDC is one specific organization that is essentially labeling obesity as "high risk behavior" and therefore it can be said that the CDC is one aspect to the social construction of obesity as deviant. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) is a health organization responsible for identifying and helping prevent the outbreak of rapidly occurring diseases. This organization seeks to keep any wide spread disease from becoming an epidemic or pandemic. Clearly, obesity is being labeled as not only a deviation from social norm but also a disease of epidemic proportion.
The CDC is not the only health organization concerned with obesity; virtually any major health organizations contain some facet to address the problem of obesity. In addition, virtually any television show or movie will display individuals as quite thin, and this is to be interpreted as normal. This is established as a uni-cultural standard among virtually any television or Hollywood production. It is important to note however, that the individuals responsible for the web site pertinent to this discussion are a part of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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