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Normalization (sociology)

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Normalization is a process whereby behaviours and ideas are made to seem "normal" through repetition, or through ideology, propaganda, etc., often to the point where they appear natural and taken for granted. (See also: norm)

One influential discussion of normalization is found in the work of Michel Foucault, especially Discipline and Punish, in the context of his account of disciplinary power. As Foucault used the term, normalization involved the construction of an idealized norm of conduct – for example, the way a proper soldier ideally should stand, march, present arms, and so on, as defined in minute detail – and then rewarding or punishing individuals for conforming to or deviating from this ideal.[1][2].

In Foucault's account, normalization was one of an ensemble of tactics for exerting the maximum social control with the minimum expenditure of force, which Foucault calls 'disciplinary power'. Disciplinary power emerged over the course of the 19th century, came to be used extensively in military barracks, hospitals, asylums, schools, factories, offices, and so on, and hence became a crucial aspect of social structure in modern societies.


ReferencesEdit

  1. Foucault, Michel, 1990. The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction. Robert Hurley, trans. New York: Vintage.
  2. Adam, Mary-Louise, 2004. "The Trouble with Normal: Postwar Youth and the Making of Heterosexuality". In Michelle Webber and Kate Bezanson, eds., Rethinking Society in the 21st Century: Critical Readings in Sociology. Canadian Scholars' Press Inc.


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