Normalization, or social normalization, is the process through which ideas and behaviors that may fall outside of social norms come to be regarded as "normal". In sociological theory, normalization appears in two forms.
First, the concept 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 respectively conforming to or deviating from this ideal. 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.
Second, normalization process theory is a middle-range theory used mainly in medical sociology and science and technology studies to provide a framework for understanding the social processes by which new ways of thinking, working and organizing become routinely incorporated in everyday work. Normalization process theory has its roots in empirical studies of technological innovation in healthcare, and especially in the evaluation of complex interventions.
There are different behavioral attitudes humans accept as normal, such as grief for a loved one, avoiding danger, and not participating in cannibalism.
Influences of behavior
The world is constantly changing and many things can change the situation an individual is in. Many influences such as past experiences, environment, mental strength, physical strength, people, and the media can affect a person's behavior. A person can decide to let certain things influence them. This will determine if the person is able to make a decision rationally or not. Some people fail to see the effects of their actions after letting influences affect their actions.
Mood and emotions
People can greatly be affected by their mood. One's judgement and emotional well-being is influenced by one's mood. A negative mood can cause someone to be unproductive and it will show in the person's performance. Positive moods can make a person be more active and productive. If the person is well emotion-wise, they are full of energy and are able to stay positive.
Children are known for developing behaviors based on family, friends and media influences. A child may not know what they were doing is right or wrong. They must be able to learn from experiences if their actions are right or wrong. It is the parent's job to teach the child whether it is socially accepted or not. As the child develops from a child to a young adult, most of their influence will come from their friends. It will become harder for parents to tell how the child behaves as the child grows older.
Young adults and teenagers are heavily affected by looking up to role models. Young adults are influenced to act, talk, dress and behave similarly to their role models. This can either be a positive or negative for the individual. Looking up to a role model can have positive effects, as may influence young adults to strive for success and it brings the best out of the person to do well. Positive role models are people able to overcome obstacles, inspire others, and achievements of success. However, negative role models may model bad behaviors like bullying, drug usage, and cheating, which may lead to failure rather than success. Young adults may learn to avoid problems rather than solve them. The problems with blindly copying a role model is that people start to lose a sense of identity.
Types of normal behavior
Grief is the deep sorrow usually caused by someone's death. It has now become a normal human reaction to a loss of a loved one. It is not uncommon for someone to be in sadness. Many have to deal with coping with grief.
Body markings, such as tattoos and piercings, were not socially acceptable. Today many people use body markings as a form of expression. Doctors, lawyers, soldiers, police officers, and other professionals often have them.
During the 1900s homosexuality was not accepted as a normal behavior and people attracted to the same gender were considered different and were heavily discriminated against. Over the years, it has now been accepted more in places such as the United States, Canada and other places around the world.
Types of abnormal behavior
Abnormal behavior is broken up to two types: atypical and maladaptive. Atypical behavior is not necessarily harmful, but maladaptive behavior could potentially be harmful.
- Foucault, Michel, 1990. The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction. Robert Hurley, trans. New York: Vintage.
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- May C, Mair FS, Finch T, MacFarlane A, Dowrick C, Treweek S, et al. Development of a theory of implementation and integration: Normalization Process Theory. Implementation Science. 2009;4 art 29
- Horwitz, Allan. What's Normal?: Reconciling Biology and Culture. p. 197.
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