Tags: crime/law/deviance, culture, theory, labeling theory, social control, social norms, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: In this parody of Pharrell's "Happy," Weird Al Yankovic sings about various tacky and rude behaviors. The lyrics include lines such as "It might seem crazy, wearing stripes and plaid / I instagram every meal I've had ... 43 Bumper Stickers and a YOLO license plate (because I'm tacky)." The video can serve as a fun pop culture introduction to the concepts of social norms and deviance. Social norms are informal rules that guide what people do in a particular culture. As viewers, we can identify a variety of norms implied throughout the video regarding acceptable forms of dress, conversation, decoration, inter-personal behaviors, etc. Social deviance includes any transgression of socially established norms, and Weird Al's entire song is a display of his forms of deviance, which society might label as "tacky." For example, it is considered "tacky" to wear a "belt with suspenders and sandals with my socks," it is unprofessional to print your "new resume ... in Comic Sans," and it is distasteful to take the "whole bowl of restaurant mints" (even though they are free). But viewers might go deeper by thinking more theoretically about these norms and acts of deviance. From a symbolic interactionist perspective, we might conceive of the shared meanings and assumptions of these norms as emerging from everyday interactions. Labeling theory suggests that people subconsciously notice how people react to certain behaviors and form their self-identity through such repeated reactions. There is nothing inherently deviant, or "tacky," about these behaviors, but those labels get developed through these social interactions. From a functionalist perspective, we can theorize how individuals are socialized to acquire these meanings by being integrated within social groups. The deviant acts are discouraged through a system of social control, including formal and informal sanctions (e.g. ridiculing someone for wearing sandals with my socks). These forms of control function as a system of social regulation, thereby guiding daily life and what to reasonably expect in social settings, and encouraging conformity to acceptable norms.
Submitted By: Jenelle Clark
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