Sociological Concepts In Orange Is The New Black

As soon as we were given this assignment I couldn’t help but think about the Netflix Tv show Orange is the New Black, this show expresses several sociological concepts. When referring to culture, deviance, gender, class, sexuality and much more this tv show reflects to many of the articles we’ve read throughout this semester. Although this show reflects several concepts it also portrays stereotypes and dominant ideologies. The argument that is being presents is notwithstanding the portrayal and perceivability that various ladies get, Orange is the New Black depicts characters in manners that propagate generalizations and predominate belief systems.

To represent these sociological concepts and stereotypes using the articles from the book I have chosen four characters in Orange is the New Black, putting together dominant cultural ideologies to how these women are being portrayed in the show using their race, sexuality, and gender identities.

Let’s Begin with the main character of the show Piper Chapmen, she’s a bisexual woman who was involved with drug conspiracy with her girlfriend Alex Vause.

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When comparing this character to the article “What is Bisexuality” written by Shiri Eisner, Bisexuals were known to be inverts. This concept relates to Piper as she was not always lesbian, she was raised in a heterosexual house hold. Where it is was not normal for same sex genders to be in a relationship together especially since she comes from a upper middle class family. Being engaged to a man to then fall in love with a woman brings us to the Inversion theory stated in the text book.

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Known to be where gay men and lesbians are “inverts”, in other words people who were male or female but inside were the opposite sex internally. Another character that can be related somewhat to this article is the transgender actress Lavarne Cox, she’s a African American transgender who fits the description of inversion theory. Before she transitioned Lavarne was known as Marcus and had a job as a firefighter. Had a wife and a kid and lived her life unhappy as inside she felt feminine and not male as her exterior.

The Article “Doing Gender, Doing Gender, Doing Heteronormativity” written by Kristen Schilt and Laurel Westbrook, also reflects some theories to the character Laverne Cox of the show Orange is the New Black. As brought up on the article sexuality and gender identifications are defined by the participants, including the transgender community. It’s not only that fact of transitioning but also how it affects the ones around you and not just yourself. In this example were talking about a firefighter who’s has a whole team of straight men he shares lockers with and additional spaces in their department, also a wife who’s seen and known in the community to have a “straight” husband and a kid who is currently growing up in a heterosexual house hold but then everything changes and the world he knowns is different. The article states how this is a tremendous amount of work that children and the person its self must face, no accounting their own sexual identifications, having to deal with the changes, coming to term with, adapting to the new changes or even negotiating some type of agreement. In the Tv show Laverne transitions, is obviously isn’t something that is easy for the kid nor the wife. Changes were apparent and so the common resolution that took place was the mother stays with the kid and the father that is not a transgender gets visitation. In the section of the article where it speaks of doing gender and heteronormativity in public relationships, Laverne transition also caused him his job. Transmen could be fired for making a stigmatized identity public, and let’s face it as open minded as we should be in the 21st century I have yet to see a transgender firefighter. Being transgender doesn’t really “portray the firefighter” stereotype.

The article “The World Some Have Won: Sexuality, Class and Inequality” written by Elizabeth McDermott, reflects the whole show as it is a show representing the LGBT. The article states how LGBT people are prone to experience this social transformation differently depending on class resources. Orange is the New Black is based on an entirely on a diverse group of females from different races, sexual interest and culture. Each experience it different white have a different way to interact when compared to the blacks or Latin’s and vice versa. The LGBT representation in this show represents the perspective of how LGBT people are represented, Visibility, and stereotyped. Many of the stereotypes that were portrayed in this tv show are how they are portraited in the real world we live. How whites and treated when compared to blacks. How black people are seen as “ghetto” no matter where they come from, and how Latin’s are pretrained with their culture. In Orange is the New Black each group is separated based on their ethnicity as the stereotype has it in prisons. Like it says in the article “It is an important means through which large scale social inequalities such as gender and class are made real” This show represents stereotypes of these women’s race, sex, and gender how they are perceived in the real world. In the show the inmates were shown to actually get along with each other but were still separate. The white girls would get along and the black girls would get along but not intersecting ethnicity.

The show Orange is the New Black also reflects stereotypes between male and female roles. Using the article written by Emily Martin, “The Egg and the Sperm” I was able to reflect several sociological concepts. As the article states we are born with a certain wait our gender is supposed to fit and based on weather if you are a male or female you must have a certain role, idea a way of being. Men are supposed to be masculine a female are supposed to be feminine. This show is taking place in a prison where the women are being portrayed as weak with no power. Then we have the security guards that are men and how they have control over the women inmates, giving them the power. This represents how men have power over woman. Theirs this one character in the show names Pablo, he is known for being a jerk/Mean. He symbolizes a womanizer and is one of the most controlling guards. This reflects to the article as it states how stereotypes imply to females being less worthy than men. In the show the guards abuse of their power and authority over the inmates. The show then introduced a female guard, Susan Fischer she wasn’t taken serious by the other male guards she was actually sexualized by them. This made her look like she was less authority then them but they hold the same position. This represents hoe woman are portrayed in the work field when compared to men.

The last article I used to represent my sociological lens towards the TV show Orange is the New Black was the article was “Duel Dualisms” written by Anne Fausto-Sterling. This article represents most of the characters of this show. It is still argued weather sexuality is inborne or socially contracted. This article studies the sexual behaviors, roles and expressions found in different cultures around the world. Some cultures like our own define a certain role for each gender and for those who engage in same sex relationships. This article studied different types of people and their cultures. In the tv show we have several different same sex interest humans that come from different cultures. Role-Specialized homosexuality represents the character known as Carrie Black, where she is a female that dresses as a male and act as a shaman.

In conclusion, upon all the reflection that has been done putting together dominant cultural ideologies to how these women are being portrayed in the show using their race, sexuality, and gender identities has given an understanding of several sociological concepts and presented many examples on how races, cultural and gender identities are stereotyped when in reality they should we are all the same just have different understanding and views of things.   


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Sociological Concepts In Orange Is The New Black. (2022, Feb 25). Retrieved from

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