Use the social constructionist/symbolic interactionist approach (in particular, “the social process of deviance” and “moral entrepreneurs”) to interpret how Donald Trump, his political associates, and his media supporters have portrayed undocumented immigrants as dangerous “deviants.”
The social constructionist/symbolic interactionist approach provides a useful framework to understand how Donald Trump, his political associates, and his media supporters have portrayed undocumented immigrants as dangerous “deviants.” Social constructionism emphasizes the idea that social phenomena, including deviance, are not inherently “given” but are instead constructed through social processes and interactions. Symbolic interactionism focuses on how individuals interpret and respond to symbols and meanings in their social environment. By combining these perspectives, we can analyze the construction of undocumented immigrants as deviant and the role of moral entrepreneurs in shaping this discourse.
To begin with, the social process of deviance involves the creation of social norms and the identification and labeling of individuals or groups as deviant. Deviance is not an inherent characteristic of a person or behavior but is defined and applied within a social context. In the case of undocumented immigrants, the portrayal of them as deviant is a product of social construction rather than an objective reality.
Donald Trump and his political associates have played a crucial role in constructing this deviant image of undocumented immigrants. Trump’s rhetoric during his presidential campaign, characterized by claims that undocumented immigrants are criminals, rapists, and drug traffickers, demonstrates how the construction of deviance is used for political purposes. By labeling undocumented immigrants as dangerous and deviant, Trump and his associates tap into public fears and concerns about crime, border security, and economic competition. This construction of deviance helps to build support for policies such as stricter immigration controls, the construction of a border wall, and the targeting of undocumented immigrants for deportation.
Moral entrepreneurs also play a significant role in constructing and perpetuating the deviant image of undocumented immigrants. Moral entrepreneurs are individuals or groups that lead and promote the labeling of certain behaviors as deviant and advocate for stricter social control measures. In the case of undocumented immigrants, moral entrepreneurs include politicians, media figures, and interest groups who exploit and manipulate public anxieties and fears for their own purposes.
In the case of Trump and his media supporters, their portrayal of undocumented immigrants as dangerous deviants serves several purposes. Firstly, it helps to create and enhance a sense of social solidarity among their supporters by constructing an “us versus them” narrative. By presenting undocumented immigrants as a threat to national security, public safety, and economic well-being, Trump and his associates foster a sense of collective identity among their followers.
Secondly, this deviant portrayal serves to justify the implementation of restrictive policies and practices towards undocumented immigrants. By framing undocumented immigrants as criminals and threats, Trump and his associates make it easier to justify measures such as family separations, detention centers, and intensified immigration enforcement. The labeling of undocumented immigrants as deviant allows the implementation of policies that would otherwise be seen as cruel or inhumane.
Thirdly, this construction of deviance serves as a distraction from other pressing social issues. By focusing public attention on the perceived deviant behavior of undocumented immigrants, Trump and his media supporters divert attention from other social problems such as income inequality, healthcare, and climate change. This strategy of “moral panic,” where exaggerated fears and anxieties are created, helps to divert public scrutiny and maintain support for Trump’s policies.
In conclusion, the social constructionist/symbolic interactionist approach provides valuable insights into how Donald Trump, his political associates, and his media supporters have portrayed undocumented immigrants as dangerous deviants. The social process of deviance, including the role of moral entrepreneurs, helps explain the construction of this deviant image. Understanding this construction is crucial for critically analyzing the discourses and policies surrounding immigration and advocating for a more inclusive and nuanced understanding of undocumented immigrants.