Sociology Index


Mutual Conversion is a phrase suggesting that conversion to deviance and deviant behavior is not a solitary activity but is achieved interactively. In fact all social actions are more or less the result of a process of mutual conversion. Cohen argued that the process of moving from status frustration to delinquency involves mutual conversion via exploratory gestures. In Mutual Conversion, someone might encourage you and in accepting and perhaps by redefining or justifying the activity you further convert the first person. Mutual conversion can be described as the social process through which people progressively commit each other. In his study of youth gang culture, Albert K. Cohen (1955) described how dissatisfied youths "shopped around" for kindred souls. A process of mutual conversion through interaction took place.

Cohen discusses the relative costs and opportunities of "delinquent," "corner," and "college" boy adaptations each presents as a solution to the problems confronting individuals. The delinquent response would fit rebellion, college boy conformity, and corner boy ritualism by giving up middle class aspirations. He emphasizes the solutions are worked out in collaboration with others.

Gang cultures are similar throughout the country because they are solutions to similar problems. Those cultural forms that successfully address those problems persist, and others die out. The processes arise out of social interaction and mutual conversion.

Mutual conversion takes place in a community of faith united against the bad habit of what Rudolf Harnack called “comparing one religion’s good theory with another’s bad practice.”

Interreligiosity and Conversion
James W. Heisig
Interreligious dialogue is not about pitting the particular symbols of faith against one another in order to compare their relative merits and demerits, but about a mutual conversion.