social/cultural norms and discipline

The concept of social norms is a product of the disciplinary machine analyzed by Foucault. It’s part of a discourse that took off in the 1930s, according to this Google Books ngram:

The trend lines for social norms (blue) and cultural norms (red) rise together.

“Western” society used to distinguish between good and evil, but that was supplanted by normal/abnormal. Good/evil is a digital distinction with no middle ground, but normal/abnormal produces a continuum. Individuals can be placed on this continuum and subject to some kind of therapy to move them from abnormal to normal. Consider the Autism Spectrum.

This ngram indicates that the word evil starting falling out of favor in about 1842 but has regained some ground since 2000. The recent rise is most likely associated with the discourse on terrorism, particularly after September 11, 2001. Religious discourse in general has increased since about 1980.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.