In 1963, Howard Becker put together some articles he had written in the mid 50’s and adding a few more chapters, he published the ‘Outsiders: studies in the Sociology of Deviance’. Back then, Becker’s case studies were among others the marihuana users, the dance musicians, the homosexuals. The contemporary reader might smile with the way the marihuana user is described as an outsider, laugh at the direct and one-way connection of the musicians with an underground subculture and get frustrated with the author’s lack of guilt when the homosexuals fall in this same category of deviants. If we isolate though Becker’s methodological tools from his case studies, we will be left with a very accurate description of deviance, applying to lots of current social groups.
The starting point of my research is this exact arbitrariness of deviance and its social impact on the lives of groups and individuals. The main issues to be examined is the initial social exclusion of individuals and on a later stage their assemblage in groups and communities, their self-education and mutual aid and support, either through the acceptance or denial of their definition as deviant.
Key element here is the understanding of the group as a political formation with limitless possibilities. Felix Guattari describes group therapy as a struggle against individualization, against the way we have been produced as subjects. Seen as a laboratory of micropolitics, the group is called to respect and give space to the personal (experience, trauma, language, gesture, image, sound) and through its shared memory and knowledge accompany it to its politicization. Through this process the initially weak, ‘ill’ individual becomes the vital element of a powerful multitude of social voices and differenting flows that claims its own space in the social field.
Going back to the event, all the above will be visualized through mappings of groups and texts as well as archival presentations of radical therapy groups that operated in the UK from the 1970’s onwards.
Final target is to explore the potentials of the group by setting up a human library where individuals are called to share their personal stories of exclusion and deviance and then participate in a collaborative process that will bring back these stories in the social field through techniques used by the theatre of the oppressed.