Great God! This Is An Awful Place! A Study of Deviancy in Antarctica
Antarctica has no indigenous population. All those who work there are supported by science operations of various nations, depending on them for housing, food, support flights, and transportation to and from the ice. These stations, the largest of which is the American Station McMurdo housing approximately 1,000 people in the austral summer, are not simply miniature representations of their support country. Instead each base develops its own ever changing culture. In adapting socially and physiologically to the Antarctic environment many use different coping mechanisms in order to deal with the sudden and complete change of life. The case studies used for this study are primarily from U.S. station, but also from the British, Australian, New Zealand and Norwegian stations as well.There are different mechanisms used to cope with the harsh environment, hard labor and small group size and isolation in Antarctica. This coping mechanisms include uses of humor, alcohol, sex, and violence. These different mechanisms are received in different ways. Some which are relatively harmless receive less constrained sanctioning from both group members and corporate response. Many behaviors that would be considered deviant are sanctioned and even encouraged in order to act as coping mechanisms. This is done in order to maintain social cohesion. In such a small closed environment it becomes necessary to become more lenient in certain behaviors. Those behaviors, such as violence, which threaten social cohesion, are those which are the least tolerated. Abuse of these sanctioned activities, such as drinking, can result in the individual being labeled as deviant within the Antarctic community. Abuse of alcohol can also threaten the work environment, making dangerous work even more so. Perceived infringement by the management on freedoms of workers are heavily resisted and protesting. These infringements increase group cohesion as the workers fight together against the enemy of the management.