Normalization refers to social processes through which ideas and actions come to be seen as 'normal' and become taken-for-granted or 'natural' in everyday life. In sociological theory normalization appears in two forms.
First, the concept of normalization is found in the work of Michel Foucault, especially Discipline and Punish, in the context of his account of disciplinary power. As Foucault used the term, normalization involved the construction of an idealized norm of conduct – for example, the way a proper soldier ideally should stand, march, present arms, and so on, as defined in minute detail – and then rewarding or punishing individuals for conforming to or deviating from this ideal. In Foucault's account, normalization was one of an ensemble of tactics for exerting the maximum social control with the minimum expenditure of force, which Foucault calls "disciplinary power". Disciplinary power emerged over the course of the 19th century, came to be used extensively in military barracks, hospitals, asylums, schools, factories, offices, and so on, and hence became a crucial aspect of social structure in modern societies.
Second, normalization process theory is a middle-range theory used mainly in medical sociology and science and technology studies to provide a framework for understanding the social processes by which new ways of thinking, working and organizing become routinely incorporated in everyday work. Normalization process theory has its roots in empirical studies of technological innovation in healthcare, and especially in the evaluation of complex interventions.
- Foucault, Michel, 1990. The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction. Robert Hurley, trans. New York: Vintage.
- Adams, Mary Louise, 2004. "The Trouble with Normal: Postwar Youth and the Making of Heterosexuality". In Michelle Webber and Kate Bezanson, eds., Rethinking Society in the 21st Century: Critical Readings in Sociology. Canadian Scholars' Press Inc.
- May C, Mair FS, Finch T, MacFarlane A, Dowrick C, Treweek S, et al. Development of a theory of implementation and integration: Normalization Process Theory. Implementation Science. 2009;4 art 29
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