Labeling theory redefines defiance as any action that may appear to violate societal norms. According to this theory, deviance is not inherent in the action itself but is rather constructed by societal perceptions (Sociology Live! 2015). Essentially, labeling theory explains the variations in the perception of different behaviors across cultures and time periods.
For a long time, wearing trousers by women was considered deviant in numerous nations. In over 200 French cultures, women wearing trousers were seen as highly defiant (Arachtingi, 2020). Many French individuals argued that this norm aimed to restrict women to specific occupational domains and prevent them from appearing too “masculine.” Women would only wear trousers when riding bicycles or horses. However, this norm eventually became extinct due to the rapid cultural and value shifts in France (Arachtingi, 2020).
SOCI 1001S Week 2 Perceptions of Deviance
In France, several reasons existed for the opposition against women wearing trousers. Firstly, the society held the belief that women should be confined to specific societal roles. Consequently, this norm limited French women’s access to certain professions and job opportunities. In other words, they were denied access to certain types of employment. Additionally, society held negative views toward women who appeared masculine.
One scenario where engaging in defiant behavior may be deemed acceptable is when a woman is riding a horse or bicycle. Trousers are the most suitable attire for efficiency and comfort during these activities. Prior to the lifting of the ban, my grandparent engaged in this deviant behavior and was caught on her bike in the street. She faced severe condemnation from both men and women in Paris.
Arachtingi, D. (2020). Foster Gender Equality in the Context of Horse Riding. An Olympic Value reveals a path from domination to emancipation. Diagoras: International Academic Journal on Olympic Studies, 4, 60-74.
Sociology Live! (2015, November 6). Labeling theory [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHSvZZ1pnm0