Saturday, November 2, 2013

Thought for the Day from Howard Becker

"Elites, ruling classes, bosses, adults, men, Caucasians--superordinate groups generally--maintain their power as much by controlling how people define the world, its components, and its possibilities, as by the use of more primitive forms of control. They may use primitive means to establish hegemony. But control based on the manipulation of definitions and labels works more smoothly and costs less; superordinates prefer it. The attack on hierarchy begins with an attack on definitions, labels, and conventional conceptions of who's who and what's what."

Howard Becker, Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance. Excerpt from the chapter "Labelling Theory Reconsidered," pp. 204-205 in the edition I have (New York: The Free Press, 1997). The chapter is based on a paper presented at the British Sociological Association in April, 1971.

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