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The Sociology of Dexter Popular Culture Fall 2012 Robert Wonser.

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1 The Sociology of Dexter Popular Culture Fall 2012 Robert Wonser

2 Dexter and Goffman How is it that no one is aware that Dexter is a serial killer? Impression management: Goffman’s term for the conscious and unconscious efforts at managing the impression others have of us through the use of props, setting, wardrobe and behavior. Uses the metaphor of the theater to explain social life. No one sees his box of slides No one else (who is still alive anyway) is aware of his ‘dark passenger’

3 Dexter and Goffman Emotion work: the effort needed to outwardly conform to the feeling rules (expectations of what emotion to feel, how to express it and when) regarding specific emotions. Dexter has no emotions but is well adept at faking them (aren't we all?) "People fake a lot of human interactions, but I feel like I fake them all, and I fake them very well." (Dexter 1-1)

4 Dexter is a Serial Killer Serial killers are usually white males in their thirties; this describes Dexter. He is able to blend in anywhere because he does not stand out White privilege White privilege Ironically, who is one of the few to see through him?

5 Arousal Theory Arousal theory: baseline level of stimulation is needed rush of killing doesn't last long He needs another fix Sought treatment for his ‘addiction’

6 Role Theory We play the roles society lays out for us. Dexter: "I became a husband, a father" (4-6) And he plays the part…

7 Victim Precipitation Theory victim precipitation theory: criminals choose victims on the basis of some trait about the victim or something the victim does In Dexter’s case, he targets serial killers

8 Labeling Theory Labeling theory: external labels (names, statuses, etc.) become applied (usually by those in positions of power; parents, teachers, law enforcement, etc.) to a person who internalizes the label which then modifies that person’s self concept Harry saw primary deviance (behavior that departs from social norms before it is recognized; eg: killing animals) and labeled Dexter a psychopath.

9 The Self-fulfilling Prophesy Dexter was ‘born in blood’, setting him on his deviant path Dexter’s being labeled by Harry and giving him the code set him toward a self-fulfilling prophesy (simply because something is labeled it tends to bring about the outcome it predicted whether it would have happened or not with out the prediction)

10 The power of significant others Also, socialization - the process of internalizing a social group’s norms, values, and ways of life. Dexter was socialized by Harry (his adoptive father) who taught him his code of right and wrong.

11 Neutralization theory and Drift Dexter is a father, husband, brother, blood spatter analyst and normal guy. Except when he is a sociopathic murderer. He is able to do this by 'drifting' from a murderer to a father buy using techniques of neutralization (rationalizations and excuses made to justify a person’s momentary lapse of judgment thus allowing them to remain ‘normal’ and not fully adopt a deviant identity). Rationalizing his behavior by only killing murderers.

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