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Political Analysis of Deviance

NCJ Number
P Lauderdale
Date Published
257 pages
This collection of papers is concerned with a political process approach to the definition of deviance.
The general approach is that groups, organizations, or states with varying resources create, maintain, or transform definitions of deviance and that these processes require delineation at various stages. An introductory paper examines how the political analysis of deviance can clarify important issues in the field of deviance and integrate this field with theory and research in conflict, social change, and sociology of law. The first group of papers looks at the role of collective interaction and social movements in creating, removing, or altering definitions of deviance. One paper explores the definition of trials as status degradation ceremonies and describes the process of counterdenunciation in which criminal behavior may be redefined as political deviance. A number of antiwar trials are cited to illustrate this process. Another paper investigates the role of cultural hegemony in constraining the political definition of acts. The news coverage of the antibicentennial march which was planned and executed by the July Fourth Coalition is discussed. The participants' definition of this historical event is contrasted with the depiction of the event in 18 major newspapers. The second group of papers discusses the role of organizations and of the state in the definition process. In one paper, the violence of ice hockey players is viewed as a form of political deviance, and attempts at the social control of such violence is considered to be a political phenomenon. The social conditions that contribute to changes in the legal status of violence in the game are examined. Another paper constructs a theory of the causes of the Watts (California); Newark, N.J.; and Detroit, Mich., race riots of the 1960's from evidence provided by an analysis of data on riot-related deaths and by a comparison of this period to similar periods of social change. The final paper explores alternative theoretical conceptions of the political bases of deviance definition. Individual papers have tables, graphs, footnotes, and references. Name and subject indexes are included. For separate papers, see NCJ 72519-21.


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