lecture: Norms, Deviance, and the Queer Ordinary // Heather Love

October 23 2014


The study of norms and deviance is central to the intellectual genealogy of queer studies. While social science scholars have recognized commonalities between the sociological study of deviance and contemporary queer studies, queer humanities scholars have been slow to do so. A significant aspect of what Gayle Rubin has described as the “obscured” history of the field, research on deviance and social problems in the social sciences shaped queer studies’ commitment to subcultures, to non-normativity, and to a constructionist view of sexuality. However, early queer theorists transformed the study of deviance by turning non-conforming behavior from an object of study to a political program. This collapse of the position of the scholar and the social deviant produced transformations in the ethos and style of scholarship, and yet it did not profoundly change the material conditions or the power relations between professional academics and the marginal subjects they study.