Power, Conflict, & Critical Theories: Discussion Summary

Much discussion surrounding the social power perspective identified a critical question regarding situations of deviance, namely, “who here is the beneficiary?” The purposeful scapegoating of black men, we concluded, worked to the benefit of the drug-using white upper class by distracting from their own crime and cementing their social power upon the backs of their social subordinates. Feminism and queer theory, in addition to race and class, inform the social power perspective. Many saw truth in Quinney’s conflict theory, seeing that deviance is defined according to the relevant interests of the dominant class. In the words of FourLokoKid, “The dominant class would never want to put themselves in danger so they continually aim the delegation and application of deviance towards the less advantaged classes…” Others furnished support for conflict theory through evidence provided by the second class treatment of women and blacks, as zeitgeist noted, due to their inability to fit the dominant “normal” mode. Several comments also picked up on the strong¬†power of family and media in controlling female sexuality to the benefit of male dominance.¬†And interestingly, pessimism surfaced regarding the ability of a subordinate class to replace the dominant.

In terms of relevant activism the American Civil Liberties Union operates a number of campaigns to prevent public school sex segregation, battle legal discrimination against LGBT couples, block limitations on women’s health insurance, fight encroachments on minority voting rights, and dismantle discrimination in the juvenille and criminal justice systems.

Available online as well as in print is locally and volunteer-produced Raging Pelican, an independent Gulf Coast newspaper published to address the human and environmental abuses of government and industry following the BP oil spill. Social power and critical theory inform this work at all levels.



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