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An Analysis of Deviance and Capitalism

The following work describes how the practice of Capitalism retains control over its societal subjects, the people. Argued from an academic perspective (peppered with Afro Interpretations), the concept puts the entire United States social, political, and economical structure in plain view. It answers questions and conspicuously suggests solutions to the many problems in American society. If absorbed by the right minds, an implementation to combat this practice could point this country in another direction entirely.

The original topic of the work is Deviance, the recognized violation of cultural norms. When a person strays from the mainstream standards to practice their own culture and traditions, the society from whence they deviate consider them deviants and stigmatizes them into exile. For example, if a neighborhood kid is arrested and does time, the rest of the community considers that child no longer a part of their immediate culture.

This work talks about deviating from the Capitalist system and how people are stigmatized once they refuse to abide by the norms of a capitalist lifestyle, such is how the American society bared its foundation. Afromerica will input interpretations after each paragraph or concept of what the writer is saying. The interpretations are attempts to enlighten the Black mind as to how they can gain from this knowledge.

Article begins

Deviant labels are applied to people who interfere with the operation of capitalism. First, because capitalism is based on private control of property, people who threaten the property of others - especially the poor who steal from the rich - are prime candidates for being labeled deviant.

Afromerica Interpretation

One would first think of a common thug who would rob a rich person when reading the second sentence; however, this is not what elitist think. They think "the poor" as in welfare and underclass, not paying as much in taxes as they are, if any, and those who leach on to government programs that cater to the underclass as assistance programs.

In terms of assisting the poor, this is only a natural human desire, to help others. However, the capitalist does not see it this way, they would rather that underprivileged persons work for what they have, not realizing that it is their own system that causes underprivileged people in the first place.

Article continues

Conversely, the rich who exploit the poor are less likely to be labeled deviant. For example, landlords who charge poor tenants high rent and evict those who cannot pay are not considered a threat to anyone, they are simply "doing business."

Second, because capitalism depends on productive labor, people who cannot or will not work risk being labeled deviant. Many members of our society think people who are out of work - even if through no fault of their own - are somehow deviant.


This is the going mindset in society because of the capitalist spirit. If a man (especially) is not working, that man is automatically labeled a sorry man, regardless of their situation. People do not always consider what could be the situation, because the capitalist spirit kicks in first before logic. This practice is unproductive because it lowers the moral of someone out of work.

Article continues

Third, capitalism depends on respect for authority figures, so people who resist authority are labeled deviant. Examples are children who skip school or talk back to parents and teachers and adults who do not cooperate with employers or police.


Another example, which often goes unrecognized, is people who refuse to participate in calendar holidays they believe are pagan or demonic. They refuse to take part in commercialism and exploitation of sacred traditions and religious values. Many refuse to celebrate the anniversary of the very country that enslaved them and continues to psychological do the same.

Article continues

Fourth, anyone who directly challenges the capitalist status quo is likely to be defined as deviant. In this category are antiwar activist, radical environmentalists, and labor organizers.

On the other side of the coin, society positively labels whatever enhances the operation of capitalism. For example, winning athletes enjoy celebrity status because they make money and express the values of individual achievement and competition vital to capitalism.

Additionally, we condemn using drugs of escape (marijuana, psychedelics, heroin, and crack) as deviant but promote drugs that encourage adjustment to the status quo (alcohol and caffeine).


Challenging the system or deviating from the social norm means mainstream society will consider them an enemy rather than an asset. Anytime the systematic order of things is challenged, especially by people other than the ruling class and race, this doubles the stigma placed on those people. For example, blacks who protest against the social order and practices of subtle racism in everyday life.

These black people are immediately considered as threats and not taken seriously but laughed at based on this perception of them as deviant. This is another reason Black politicians and leaders cannot get any needful legislation through because it is not taken seriously, but winked at with the eye of derision from the white majority.

Instead, blacks - such as athletes and movies stars - who represent what the American capitalist system is all about, are spotlighted and praised by mainstream so to prove to the rest of the masses of Blacks that it is possible; if they made it, so can you. This is the most disillusioned psyche of mind that has blinded the Black leadership in this country and the illusion is spreading throughout to the lower classes of Blacks like a wild fire.

Drinking alcohol is socially acceptable yet alcohol related deaths and illnesses are as high as the murder rate and American society. It parallels the drug market in sales, crimes committed as a result of, and is higher in death rates than illegal drug addictions. However, because this is the capitalist tradition, "rum, tobacco, and human labor" this is what society upholds and protects as decent.

Article continues

The capitalist system also strives to control people who don't fit into the system. The elderly, people with mental or physical disabilities, and "retreatists" represent a costly yet relatively harmless burden to society. Such people are subject to control by social welfare agencies.

But people, who directly challenge the capitalist system, including the inner-city "underclass" and revolutionaries, innovators, and rebels, are controlled by the criminal justice system or, in times of crises, military forces such as the National Guard.


Control is the key to the capitalist system. It is how they manage to keep Blacks and any other minorities at a certain level of the social ladder. They erect social governmental bureaucracies to keep these people in check and monitored through appointments, visits, and court dates.

The mainstream media has managed to indoctrinate the minds of television watchers to believe that the system is for them in the world of reality TV, but once a person challenges the system, they quickly find out that there is but one way, which is the way of the system.

The "inner-city" underclass knows what it is like to struggle against social agencies. These agencies were designed for them in particular. Elitist have no agency that controls them to an extent of contention, their systems are designed to protect them against the common person and to enrich their lives.

Article continues

Note that both the social welfare and criminal justice systems blame individuals, not the system, for social problems. Welfare recipients are deemed unworthy freeloaders, poor people who vent rage at their plight are labeled rioters, anyone who actively challenges the government is branded a radical or a Communist, and those who attempt to gain illegally what they will never acquire legally are rounded up as common criminals.

Article ends...

AI conclusion

The capitalist spirit traces back to the early Puritans and founders of America. It is one based on the supposed biblical principle that "if a man does not work neither does he eat." Though this is biblical, the concept is staunch against any other humanitarian concept of the Bible, such as helping the poor and the feeble and the weak, and not persecuting or forgetting about them.

The founders practiced this capitalist spirit successfully for years under their own culture but neglected any biblical practice of human decency during slavery. Therefore, the entire capitalist sprit is one of blatant hypocrisy even from its start.

Today, however, it is in full-blown mode whereas the social structure of the country has parted society into the rich and the poor and the divide is growing larger everyday. Capitalist minded people do blame the poor for their plight and never consider the fact that it may be their own system that has begotten the poor. For which came first?

Blacks should realize that we are not a natural part of this system but are victims of it and are continued victims of it. There may be successful Blacks in America but remember that they were placed there for conscience sake, not because of the promise of equality. We must remember that as Blacks in America the capitalist's job is to make workers out of humans and regardless of the circumstances, that product of society must submit to authority or there are consequences.

Source from: Society the Basics: Macionis, 2004

© 2004 by Afro Staff

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