The Character Question
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transgressive behavior may be an inevitable element of the human
equation, some researchers have studied its cultural context. UCLA
social psychologist M. Belinda Tucker, who teaches in the Department
of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, believes the dissolution
of community is a factor in what she describes as an increase in
behavior that is considered outrageous (be it serious crime, forged
parking placards or unusual hairdos).
one of her studies, Tucker found that the rate of interracial marriage
was higher among those who moved to the West Coast than those in
other communities. Tucker's research seems to indicate that individuals
are more willing to participate in behavior that is considered transgressive
when away from their native communities. In other words, people
behave with much more freedom when they know authority figures aren't
peering over their shoulders.
remember, when I was growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania,
a girl in my church became pregnant but was not married," Tucker
says. "She had to go before the deacon board and apologize. That
same church also refused to hire a well-regarded local minister
simply because he had been divorced. These are examples of some
of the public sanctions that don't exist today, an example of how
communities attempt to control behaviors."
who is away at college can do things without repercussions that
they couldn't do if they were living in a smaller community, where
the same sort of acting out would be punished, or would bring disgrace
onto the family," she says.
people become more mobile and move away from highly structured societies,
there is less control over behaviors." Tannen echoes Tucker's theory,
adding that people are less likely to know their neighbors today
than in the past. Offenders are less likely to put a face on those
they are offending. That may be especially true for star athletes,
according to sociologist Jerry Rabow.