Questions for LGBTQ Worldmaking
Edited By Dustin Bradley Goltz and Jason Zingsheim
9. The Practice of Normativities in Everyday Life
GUST A. YEP AND RYAN LESCURE
On the one hand, norms seem to signal the regulatory or normalizing function of power, but from another perspective, norms are precisely what [bind] individuals together, forming the basis of their ethical and political claims.
—Butler (2004, p. 219)
Through the process of governing social intelligibility, on the one hand, norms allow for certain types of practices and actions to become recognizable in the social domain (e.g., specific gendered styles of dress that allow social actors to be recognized as members of a particular gender). To maintain intelligibility, the range of practices and actions are regulated and restricted for the social actor (e.g., to be recognized as a woman in a social setting, a person needs to conform to certain gendered styles of presentation). On the other hand, norms create and sustain the possibility of community through a common understanding and language for social actors (e.g., norms that demarcate and maintain certain gender communities). Such commonalities can also become the mechanism for making ethical and political claims (e.g., people organizing to eradicate violence against women). In short, norms are both necessary for people to function in society and (potentially) violent for such individuals in symbolic and material ways.
As Butler (2004) reminds us, the persistence of norms occurs “to the extent that [they are] acted out in social practice and reidealized and reinstituted in and through the daily social rituals of bodily life...
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