• Social Research An Int'l Quarterly

TAXONOMY AND DEVIANCE / Vol. 65, No. 2 (Summer 1998)


Nick O. Haslam, Guest Coeditor

Arien Mack, Editor

Table of Contents

Nick O. Haslam Editor’s Introduction

Categorization is a fundamental human activity, which rarely becomes controversial until it turns on us and takes people as objects. The troublesome consequences make up some of the central preoccupations of the social sciences: deviance, stereotyping, prejudice, stigma, discrimination, exclusion. One task for social scientists is to make sense of this mixed legacy, to ask what it is about some categories and acts of classification, and about the theories and passions in which they are embedded, that generates so much hostility and suffering. The papers collected in this issue of Social Research all address themselves to this task.

John Dupré Normal People This article discusses some philosophical issues about normality. The paper is concerned with sciences such as evolutionary psychology that have something more substantial to say about what people, in general, are like. One aim of this paper is to address the problem of which of these approaches is the most appropriate to the mapping of human diversity. This is equivalent to the question of whether, or to what extent, humans form a single kind. Normality is a concept that relates individuals to a paradigm for the kind--the normal member of the kind.

Andrew J. Hostetler and Gilbert H. Herdt Culture, Sexual Lifeways, and Developmental Subjectivities: Rethinking Sexual Taxonomies This article attempts to reconceptualize the relationship between sexual taxonomies, sexual subjectivities, and agency. While building on the insights of queer theory, the paper wishes to recoup sexual classificatory systems as necessary, even useful--if ever-shifting and contingent--frameworks for understanding the intentional realities and individual experiences of sexual minorities. After reviewing current debates among queer, feminist, and other poststructural theorists, the paper elaborates concepts of sexual lifeways as an alternative to concepts such as sexual identity.

Nick O. Haslam Natural Kinds, Human Kinds, and Essentialism This article examines the extendibility of natural-kind concepts and essentialist thinking into the social domain from two angles. First, to what degree is the extension of natural-kind concepts and essentialism warranted epistemologically and second why is it that laypeople's intuitive understandings of human kinds commonly favor such accounts. Both will be tackled in a psychological point of view. The paper argues that the extension of natural-kind concepts into the social domain may be less problematic than many theorists believe, because natural kinds, at least those in the biological realm, are not what theorists imagine them to be.

Eviatar Zerubavel Language and Memory: "Pre-Columbian" America and the Social Logic of Periodization This article examines the social logic of the process of periodization and the social meanings assigned to what people come to regard as distinct historical periods. The article will also try to shed some light on the special role of language in this process. Particular context within which the paper examines the relation between the way historical periods were named and the meanings collectively assigned to them is the history of the U.S. More specifically, this paper focuses on the conventional history of the discovery of the US. The article also examines the unique role of the year 1492 in collective memory of the people in the US.

Lawrence A. Hirschfeld Natural Assumptions: Race, Essence, and Taxonomies of Human Kinds This article explores the kinds of taxonomies that support the reasoning that everyday categories are embedded in comprehensive knowledge structures that not only catalogue difference but interpret it. A similar readiness to go beyond the information given is found in taxonomies of people. Much of a man's everyday life involves interactions with and expectations about other humans. Under impoverished learning conditions, humans display a highly regrettable willingness to attribute to members of certain categories characteristics that have very little or no empirical basis.

David L. Hull Species, Subspecies, and Races This article presents a brief overview of biological species and then move down to the level of subspecies. The purpose of this paper is to see what man can learn about subdivisions of Homo sapiens if human species are seen as just one more species out of millions. The human species can be looked at from two quite different perspectives. The first perspective is that men are unique--fundamentally different from all other species. The other perspective is that initially man should assume that the human species is a species like any other.

Virginia R. Dominguez Exporting US Concepts of Race: Are There Limits to the US Model? This article attempts to interpret a letter sent by Swedish physician E. Arning to Hawaiian King Kalakaua dated January 26, 1885. The letter is in compliance of the King's request on behalf of the Board of Geneology as to ranging the Polynesian, more especially the Hawaiian race under the headings of Huxley's classification of races based on hair, colour, and form of cranium. One possible interpretation of Kalakaua's request is that he understood the Anglo-American concept of race but could not find Hawaiians on any of the taxonomies at the time. A second interpretation is that he was aware that Europeans and Euro-Americans classified people by something called race.

Sander L. Gilman Sibling Incest, Madness, and the “Jews” This article examines the nosology of the deviant in modern culture. Incest is just such a category of deviance in modern culture. Sibling incest was a touchstone for the incest and inbreeding discussions of the late-nineteenth century and one of the often cited social problems. Child murder and sibling incest come to be linked in the forensic science of the period as twin signs of the madness of the Jews. The madness of the Jews is a sexual madness, whether it is focused on the body of the Christian and death or on the body of the Jew and immoral reproduction.

S. Alexander Haslam and John C. Turner Extremism and Deviance: Beyond Taxonomy and Bias This article discusses deviance and extremism beyond taxonomy and bias. The view that extremists are psychological deviants and social misfits can be traced back at least as far as Aristotle's Ethics. Aristotle noted that while the mean was clearly superior to extremes of behavior, extremists themselves had a tendency to misrepresent the truth of his doctrine by pushing the mean nearer to the other extreme. Aristotle set the framework for contemporary social psychological research into extremism in three important ways. He defined moderation as a normative benchmark against which all other positions were to be compared and relative to which those positions were inferior.

Jerome Kagan The Quiet Return of Categories This article presents empirical examples that have implications for a great deal of research in social sciences. Every object or event in nature can be assigned a value on one or more continuous dimensions or membership in one or more qualitative categories. The preference for a quantitative or a qualitative assignment depends on the theoretical interests of the investigator. Responses to questionnaires for anxiety, depression, or extraversion; intelligence quotient scores; and number of criminal offenses are examples of variables that are treated as continua.