Adenovirus 36 (Adv36) is associated with “weight gain, obesity… [and] metabolism changes” with a prevalence of 22.9% in adults across the United States, Turkey, Italy, South Korea, Czech Republic, China, Sweden, Poland, Mexico, Finland, Chile, and joint study by Belgium and the Netherlands (Fernandes et al., 2021). Adv36 has been associated with a 4x increase in body weight (p. 1343). This is something to keep in mind when considering weight stereotype, because it can, and has personally helped to bust stereotypes, prejudices, and discriminations that are defined as resistant to reason. While seemingly out of left field, a “saving face” approach breaks dichotomous finger pointing. Therefore, a Durkheim (1895) “social fact” was employed in opening, as a kind of inoculation interrupting typified social scripts (i.e., expectations). Place this social fact aside for the moment, as there was a great deal of content this week in the SOC-360 course, and this discussion shall continue with 1) an operationalization of stereotype as illuminated by sociological theory will be, 2) analysis of each article, and ending with 3) a minor discussion following analysis. Sometimes “things” are not as “they” seem, yet sociological theory still very much applies.
Before entering discussion, it is helpful to operationalize “stereotype”. Washington State University’s Daffin & Lane (2021) help define stereotype as “beliefs about what are the typical traits or characteristics of members of a specific group” (p. 9.4). In Gordon Allport’s (1954) definition, it is an “exaggerated belief associated with a category. Its function is to justify (rationalize) our conduct in relation to that category” (p. 191). Allen (2000) associates stereotypes with the “development of beliefs concerning the traits supposedly possessed by most members of a society” (as cited in Igbo, Onu & Obiyo, 2015, pp. 1-2). Allport’s own use of “justify” is conceptually employed by Scott & Lyman’s (1968) typology of accounts in consolidating Sykes & Matza’s (1957) techniques of neutralization as “justification” (p. 51). To this end, it is helpful recollect that these techniques of neutralization (i.e., justifications) “neutralize, turn back, and deflect in advance” of deviant behavior (R. Hodges, personal communication, March 30, 2022). Therefore, it can be said that stereotypes are working in advance of motivational patterns running counter to social controls, where control as a measure, rather than a law, is as an “appeal to a higher authority” of generalized “morality” where truth be told, deviancy is defined down (Moynihan, 1993) by a more salient “higher authority” of locality (i.e., familial groups, language use topologies [i.e., communities of practice etc.]).
An Analysis of Articles
Articles were examined per SOC-360’s module on Physical Identity: Glamour’s article by Dreisbach (2012) concerning weight stereotyping, Smithsonian Magazine’s article by Tucker (2012) concerning the valuation of attraction, Today’s article by Katz (n.d.) titled “The Importance of Being Beautiful”, Men’s Journal article by Hill (2014) on building “bigger action heros”, a fashion model’s talk on the fact that “looks aren’t everything” (Russel, 2012), and Sgargetta’s (2009) documentary following Paul PJ James’ weight gain to weight loss effort at “understanding obesity”. For the purpose of narrowing an analysis with respect to justifications (i.e., stereotypes) with respect to future deviation in bifurcating society through arousal (i.e., prejudice) and behavior (i.e., discrimination) will be examined.
Dreisbach. Dreisbach’s article communicates results of a Glamour poll that was designed and guided by Rebecca Puhl, from Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. Through the results of the study of women, an “out of control” bias had been demonstrated in assigning 1) “lazy”, “sloppy”, “undisciplined”, and “slow” to the overweight, and assigning “conceited”, “superficial”, “vain”, “self-centered”, “bitch”, “mean”, or “controlling” to the thin (Dreisbach, 2012). These exaggerated traits attributed to those “overweight” or “thin” failed to accurately assess traits of individual attitudes (i.e., affect, cognition, and behavior). Dreisbach (2012) then writes about “pay[ing] a considerable price for these stereotypes” where some earn significantly less than “normal-weight peers”, and psychological impacts to mental health as measured by impairment in social relations.
Interpretation. This article reveals beliefs of typical traits, and when considering techniques of neutralization operating in advance to neutralize, turn back, and deflect future deviant behaviors against social controls of equality, it may be realized that describing a person as lazy will make it easier to treat someone more unequally, as is reported to be the case in Dreisbach’s communication of literature’s findings. In this, two deviations from the center of a distribution of generalized strain induced goals of “exemplar” are in flux; on the one hand is the prevailing view of beauty of thinness as arrived at from earlier deviancy (skinny was at one time a sign of lack of wealth, then deviated from), and on the other hand is the acceptance of “overweight” as being arrived at through strain adaptations amidst the context of the current “one standard deviation” from the mean of what is considered beautiful. Techniques of neutralization are therefore not used just by one side or another, but in clearing the path to future motivations against perceived controls.
Considering prevailing social unacceptance, as measured in the studies Dreisbach communicates a unification of theories explaining deviancy emerged. It is proposed that a density of control as described by control theory (Hirschi, 1969) moderates a dimension of perceived threat or elimination of freedom as described by psychological reactance theory (PRT; Reynolds-Tylus, 2019) mediating a significance quest as described by significance quest theory (SQT; Kruglanski et al., 2019) restoration of freedom socially accepted. In the pursuit of restoration, techniques of neutralization are working in advance, even when individuals socially work them against each other, as an aunt says so beautifully, “I can have a cookie if I want to,” to which another excuses their discrimination toward her as “neurotic behavior.” Yet not so fast, because another deviancy is at play, where to an outside observer the appeal to the higher loyalty of “competitive market” justifies future behaviors against both in denying both as victims of socio-economic conditions leading to said thoughts, feelings, and actions (i.e., attitudes). Think of all the behaviors in the future toward the traits described, the retribution to the “mean”, the elimination of recognition of the “vain”, the exposé of the “superficial”, total institutions forced onto the “undisciplined”, stigma applied to the “sloppy”, the fight against the “controlling”—there are numerous motivations toward future behavior, deviant, and it is further proposed that there are clusters of these around each strain adaptation described, plus the missing scientist adaptation (the etymology of scient-ist simply means, “to know”; R. Hodges, personal communication, 2022, February 12).
Tucker. Tucker’s (2012) article discusses Hamermesh’s pulchronomics, that is the study of the economics of beauty. A halo effect has been studied and evidenced (Nisbett & Wilson, 1977), thereby demonstrating that positive information about a person leads to a presumed assumption of positive trains. Beauty is information, and therefore only makes sense to qualitatively “positive information”. Tucker’s reporting seems a continuation of a theme of not only stereotype, nor not only prejudice, but in these cases discrimination, offering additional evidence in support of motivated behaviors as pre-messaged by excuses (i.e., techniques of neutralization). “Homely quarterbacks earn 12 percent less than their easy-on-the-eyes rivals” and “‘Hot’ economics professors… earn 6 percent more than members of their departments…” (Tucker, 2012). Hamermesh’s suggestion that “there’s not much we can do” about pulchritude seems no different than an excuse of “biological drives”, however stepping back, “not much” might benefit from some operationalization.
Interpretation. Tucker’s (2012) article is a gateway to a sociological call to action for a great matter of social ills seems to gravitate around facilitating increasing not “beauty” but the frequency of transactions as a result of changing definitions of “beauty”—most likely the result of innovative adaptations to strain. Perhaps Hamermesh is right, but perhaps not.
Katz. Katz’s (n.d.) article on the importance of beauty, again is a continuation of a theme, however in this case demonstrates remarkable evidence of justifications. Katz quotes Dion, a social psychologist asserts that the findings that beauty “goes against the cultural grain” of “talent, intelligence, and hard work” (as cited in Katz, n.d.). Again, the halo effect is mentioned, but then is purported to “defy human reason”, and the “horns effect” leads to stigmatization. Dion’s findings that “opinions of… adults… influenced by the appearance of… children” (as cited in Katz, n.d.) left questions. The results of Dr. Ellen Berscheid’s research of the handling of beautiful children, and Walster & Clifford’s evaluation of how teachers rate students based on appearance (as cited in Katz, n.d.) seems as yet more ammunition for those to proclaim more boldly, “well, everyone does it.” Halo effect does not merely extend to individuals, but also associates (Sine et al., 2003), as Katz as well (n.d.) mentions in discussing the halo effect onto a homely partner from a “good-looking woman” in marriage.
Interpretation. It would seem, that Katz’s article is a collection of justifications (i.e., techniques of neutralization) possibly empowering a readerships potentially future behaviors of deviant prejudice and discrimination. Katz’s article is as an account of excusing human behavior due to “biological drives” against earlier society’s moral deviancy against King George and an aristocracy’s arbitrary behavior in regulation of social behaviors, otherwise known as another justification an “appeal to higher loyalties” of “a supreme law of the land—under God”. As shared earlier in this course, research has consequences, and especially research that is absent a multi-cultural frame to prevent fanning the flames of potential justifications en route to prejudice and discrimination—primacy effect in research distribution in public may yet favor some motivated deviant behaviors by making eliminating their obstacles more easily by providing salience to evidence used in accounts of excuses and justifications. As to Katz’s (n.d.) reference to a “mishmash of clichés, grammatical errors and sloppy writing”, please spare the appeal to higher loyalties of descriptive elegance, as a noted progenitor of sociological theory generation Barny G. Glaser attests, it’s the concept that’s important, not the description (Glaser, 1978), and “biological drive” excuses quite possibly are obstructing a great matter of scientific discoveries (of course, this attestation evidences deviancy, to which, in communication is followed by a smile, typical of a culture of acceptance rather than mere tolerance). Oh and as for the comment that “perhaps by arming us with the knowledge and awareness of why we discriminate against the unattractive…”—Gordon Allport quite emphatically says this approach doesn’t work, what does work is social contact, that is, more frequent contact between different peoples (Allport, 1954 [i.e., desegregation]). It appears it’s still a work in progress, but then again, “it’s a work in progress” can oft be, an excuse.
Hill. Hill’s opening that “actors spend more time in the gym than they do rehearsing” reminds me of a growing trend initially seen while enlisted in the U.S. Army—why did it seem that soldiers, especially special operations soldiers, always seemed like “normal” human people absent the bulk of mass of muscle? Why did police officers when young appear more like the people they were charged with protecting, yet today, are much more massive? Testimonies of “raising the bar” seem echoed and parroted, as if trumping the party line (Hill, 2014). Another justification in advance, of what? Everyone’s doing it seems to be a refrain, “… trained primarily for aesthetics” (Hill, 2014). The “hungry look” and “lean out” while dangerous, attracts attention (Hill, 2014). “Pudgy… can’t swing”, “get jacked on deadline”, and “ripped leading man” are yet more stereotypes (Hill, 2014). Homes of actors feature gymns and offices (Hill, 2014), and the promise of “money, fame, and success” are put forth as motivating factors by Mark Twight, a trainer (Hill, 2014). Drug use is involved to get the look, where stunt doubles for actors receive low pay and slam hits of drug cocktails leading to high risk for severely damaged health (Hill, 2014). It is only fitting that a quote from Fight Club is revealed to grace the center of what is proposed to be the most infamous gym for Hollywood, “quit your job, start a fight, prove you’re alive”, where later Twight is quoted as “we’re selling this male ideal” (Hill, 2014). The halo effect of an ability to shape the body translates to a perception of good acting (Hill, 2014).
Interpretation. Refreshingly Hill’s (2014) article ends with deviancy within a greater deviancy, a call to “true awesomeness”. Rick Yune from Fast and the Furious says, “you see Clint Eastwood point a gun–and you believe it. It’s not the physical. It’s what you put behind it.” (Hill, 2014). After reading, it seems, yet more on the theme only more on justifications of the industry’s demand generation behaviors in shaping and molding an audience through the affects that Asch, Milgram, and Zimbardo discovered many years ago on social conformity. The audience has been primed, not just merely by justifications of “biological drives” to see such superhero bodies but perhaps a stronger stereotype, prejudice, and discrimination contingently reinforced by observational learnings where Hollywood itself stepped into a power vacuum of Merton’s strain, offering a dramatized roadmap to success as adapted, yet obscuring the tremendous burden that it places in resources, time, and commitment on a single individual requiring massive inequities between actors and audience members just to support said maintenance of success’s adaptations. The audience hath been abused.
Russel. Cameron Russel (2012) had been a model for a decade, approaches transformation and superficiality of look. She describes “winning a genetic lottery” and defining beauty post biological biases, of “tall, slender figures, femininity, and white skin” (00:02:59). Russel self-describes modeling photos as “constructions by a group of professionals”, and relays “they aren’t me” (00:05:56). Russel describes “free things” for the way she looks in “real life”, getting a dress for free after forgetting money and escaping a traffic ticket for running a red (00:06:17). Russel reveals her insecurity, an answer that she doesn’t offer “on camera”, because she has to “think about what she looks like, every day” (00:07:27). Russel uses her position as an appeal to greater awareness of perceived image and perceived success.
Interpretation. Considering biological salience of “beauty” (Yarosh, 2019), I am left simultaneously impressed upon by lessons of neurophysiology, especially with respect to neural correlates of aspects of melody, namely pitch and its assemblies of harmony and dissonance in narratives. Considering the differentiation between harmony and dissonance in resolved and unresolved harmonics, psychobiological moderation/mediation in the perception of harmony super-positioned with a psychosociological moderation/mediation in social deviations of said harmony seems at play. While Russel may currently “win”, it’s not really winning, but a matter of a maintenance of prevailing perspectives of beauty empowered by economic structures simultaneously moderating/mediating demand and supply curves in what is conventionally perceived as “competition”. Analogs to “system perturbations” (Hayes & Barnett, 2002) may in fact, like prior, create situations within which “deviant” strain adaptations to these same economic structures of increasing immobility may favor revolutionary adaptations resulting in change of dominant beauty ideologies as measured by varying valences of social distribution (e.g., global, national, state, region, industry, family, community etc.). When the share of voice of a tiny monoculture of exemplars of “beauty” command super-majority status in wealth and income acquisition, surely this is correlated to increasing strain leading to deviation, as seen in Russel’s appeal on stage of a “construction” rather than who she really is.
Spargetta. A self-report by James in Spargetti’s (2009) documentary reveals, “15 years of training has just come undone in two months,” James says (00:07:02). Numerous stereotypes of weight are employed in the film right at the outset, and some science is employed, for example physiological information with respect to leptin and satiation is communicated as the “stretch signal” (00:13:11). Value judgements are numerous with respect to weight: “rude shock” (00:05:53), “kilos of mud” (00:06:00), “disciplined not to continue eating as much” (00:09:47), “strong he is in character, he won’t let that happen… he’ll go back to good eating habits” (00:09:50), “poor choices” (00:12:31), “fell down” (00:12:50), “sloven” (01:56:02), and “who isn’t that in tune with their own body” (01:13:00). A counter deviancy is presented against a perception of market conditions favoring obesity (00:14:15, 00:24:54). Even James can be seen employing techniques of neutralization when shopping a grocery store (00:14:15). “Strange things” happening to the body (00:19:00) which exaggerate the perception of already known correlations reveals exaggeration. Labeling theory and control theory is at play in explanations of a friend, Michelle, joining James in losing weight, though later not showing up for further training (01:00:00). Michelle picked up on labeling (00:40:13, 01:03:03) finally confronting James about it being demotivating and walking separate ways (01:04:50), expressing happiness concomitant amongst a master status of “fat” (01:07:28).
Interpretation. As with Russel, Michelle is of particular interest, as it would seem that as increasing strain meets up with awareness of label, it appears that justifications are coming just as Sykes & Matza professed—operating in advance to not only normalize “fatness”, but to perhaps, re-center a distribution of fat to skinny image which would require social power (i.e., initial torque generation) to move the distribution the other direction. What to James are perceived as excuses, are really justifications in advance normalizing deviant behavior against the context of an already stereotyped social expectancy of a “successful” body image as defined by reductionist approaches to health: namely longevity and absence of disease (i.e., disease-based model of medicine). In these social movements, justifications are again, mediating stereotype in advance, thereby subtly or grossly altering the course of societies, depending on the share of voice in replicating said justifications in public discourse.
Adv36. As to this discussion post’s opening stereotype busting reality of Adv36, the discussion continued:
… there was a high prevalence of Adv36 in all age groups, which exceeded 64% among adults and 73% among children and adolescents with obesity and/or metabolic disorders… Adv36 potentially may be responsible for a significant percentage of human obesity. (Fernandez et al., 2021, p. 1353)
Individualistic societies express a fundamental attribution error (FAE; Ross, 1977) attributing behavior to dispositional traits rather than situational. It seems that FAE may have obfuscated reality completely, and it is not as if this has not happened before. A gentle reminder to the readers—once, most of humanity’s public discourse echoed a belief that earth was flat and labeled and made life difficult for those that thought it round (later suffixing -ish [i.e., oblate spheroid]). I do hope that for the sake of humanity, regardless of weight, that the truth of the matter of obesity may be put to rest as a matter of ethics and science, because from the cheap seat of this very desk, stigma had been very much socially constructed for some societies had valued a different picture of human weights and measures, where perhaps differences in physical identities are matters underlying phenomena of Merton’s (1938) typology of strain adaptations like “retreat” (i.e., letting go of the images put forth in media) or “ritual” (i.e., ritualized eating in response to marketed rituals of eating)—the complexities seem worth exploring, less for a matter of bettering a typology, but more of a matter to bring meaningful change.
Control Theory’s Interchangeable Indicator of “Crime”. I wonder, how many other situational causes are socially obfuscated by FAE in individualistic societies, and it is only fair to mention, the inverse, that of dispositional traits obfuscated by situational causes. Perhaps it may very well be that Quinney’s conflict theory is at work in deviancies surrounding stereotypes, prejudices, and discriminations. As humanity learned during the 2008-2009 mortgage crisis in increasing supply meeting demand through securitization (He et al., 2011), transaction volume (i.e., turn ratio) is sometimes more of incentive than transaction revenue (i.e., mean transaction revenue). Is it possible that this same reality has emerged with identity deviancy? Is it possible that Quinney’s (1975) conflict theory is the stage within which “crime” is as an interchangeable indicator for a basic social process of as-yet-to-be monetized transactions in increasing conflicts of deviant identity behavior (e.g., “formulations of definitions of identity”, “construction of the ideology of identity”, “development of behavior patterns in relation to definitions of identity”, “application of definitions of identity”, and “class struggle and class conflict”). It is simple to see that “classes” are distributions of Merton’s typologies of strain adaptations with respect to identities. Perhaps an increase along a dimension of anomie as induced by strains of communities of practice in “industry verticals” merely resulting in increased transactions of identity to benefit those already well positioned to “take advantage” of market conditions, where the crime is behavior deviant and labeled deviant inter-/intra- group.
Contact Hypothesis. Allport and others felt that psychoeducation and information doesn’t help dislodge stereotype’s (in advance) of behavior toward prejudice and discrimination. So, what does? Allport’s (1954) proposed solution was contact hypothesis (pp. 263-282), essentially 1) equal status between groups, 2) superordinate common goals, 3) communal work and sharing of fruits of labors, and 4) institutional support (pp. 261-282). Pettigrew & Tropp (2006) confirmed that this hypothesis works. Perhaps with respect to a model democracy, America’s melting pot… needs stirred, and that… is going to require limitless hands at the mixing spoon in limitless permutations of group.
An Emergening Theory: Regarding body identity, either self-/other- referenced, or circumscribed by a third party, stigma very much is in line with prejudice. Perhaps these are vestigial stereotypes and prejudices from earlier normalizing influences of cultural phenomena, but one thing is certain, Sykes & Matza’s (1957) techniques of neutralization are now clearly seen at play in the behaviors clearing the way to self-satisfaction in advance of discrimination of stereotyped experiences. Conflicting deviancies seem constructed by a labeling theory inducing body identity, where in some cultures, it may be better expressed as body image, considers a multi-cultural perspective that inclusive of cultures absent self-referencing such as the Ilongot community of the Philippines, lacking a “notion of an inner self continuous through time” (Rosaldo, 1982, p. 218).
Borrowing from the tripartite model of attitude (Rosenburg & Hovland, 1960), deviant or labeled deviant dimensions of social images/identities are as social attitudes prime (for some cultures) in feelings (i.e., affect), thoughts (i.e., cognition), and activities (i.e., behavior) moderating (i.e., sampling) typologies of basic social processes (BSPs) transcribing and translating norms and mores through social topologies by deviant (i.e., variance) behaviors as mediated by prototypes and exemplars (i.e., tensors) of intelligence (i.e., mean of distribution) surrounded by halo effect congruent organisms (i.e., standard distribution), where the skewness of distribution is reflective of strain in the positive direction, anomie in the negative direction, thus demonstrating that the optimum cradle for a species (e.g., Homo sapiens) is not in growth or contraction, but managing deviantly-emergent distributions of <crime|identity|…|[redacted]> where [redacted; pending re-sampling of literature on embarrassment avoidance [as a core category moderating/mediating behavior driving polarization formation of permutations of in-group/out-group bi-modalities]] (i.e., n-modal kurtosis).
“Yeah but what does that mean for deviance and matters of identity?” Identity is already a moving deviancy, regardless of how it is examined, for I know of no exemplar mean of biology. As for Allport’s contact hypothesis—yes please.
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