In 2002, the national spotlight fell on Boston’s archdiocese, where decades of rampant sexual misconduct from priests—and the church’s systematic cover-ups—were exposed by reporters from the Boston Globe. The sordid and tragic stories of abuse and secrecy led many to leave the church outright and others to rekindle their faith and deny any suggestions of institutional wrongdoing. But a number of Catholics vowed to find a middle ground between these two extremes: keeping their faith while simultaneously working to change the church for the better.
Beyond Betrayal charts a nationwide identity shift through the story of one chapter of Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), an organization founded in the scandal’s aftermath. VOTF had three goals: helping survivors of abuse; supporting priests who were either innocent or took risky public stands against the wrongdoers; and pursuing a broad set of structural changes in the church. Patricia Ewick and Marc W. Steinberg follow two years in the life of one of the longest-lived and most active chapters of VOTF, whose thwarted early efforts at ecclesiastical reform led them to realize that before they could change the Catholic Church, they had to change themselves. The shaping of their collective identity is at the heart of Beyond Betrayal, an ethnographic portrait of how one group reimagined their place within an institutional order and forged new ideas of faith in the wake of widespread distrust.
Why do some people not hesitate to call the police to quiet a barking dog in the middle of the night, while others accept the pain and losses associated with defective products, unsuccesful surgery, and discrimination? Patricia Ewick and Susan Silbey collected accounts of the law from more than four hundred people of diverse backgrounds in order to explore the different ways that people use and experience it. Their fascinating and original study identifies three common narratives of law that are captured in the stories people tell.
One narrative is based on an idea of the law as magisterial and remote. Another views the law as a game with rules that can be manipulated to one's advantage. A third narrative describes the law as an arbitrary power that is actively resisted. Drawing on these extensive case studies, Ewick and Silbey present individual experiences interwoven with an analysis that charts a coherent and compelling theory of legality. A groundbreaking study of law and narrative, The Common Place of Law depicts the institution as it is lived: strange and familiar, imperfect and ordinary, and at the center of daily life.
From the Gospel of Matthew to numerous US Supreme Court justices, many literary and legal sources have observed that how a society metes out punishment reveals core truths about its character. The Punitive Imagination is a collection of essays that engages and contributes to debates about the purposes and meanings of punishment in the United States.
The Punitive Imagination examines some of the critical assumptions that frame America's approach to punishment. It explores questions such as:
· What is the place of concern for human dignity in our prevailing ideologies of punishment?
· Can we justly punish the socially disadvantaged?
· What assumptions about persons, social institutions, and the ordering of social space provide the basis for American punitiveness?
· Who, if anyone, can be held responsible for excessively punitive criminal sentences?
· How does punishment depend on prevailing views of free will, responsibility, desert, blameworthiness?
· Where/how are those views subject to challenge in our punitive practices?
As Sarat posits in his introduction, the way a society punishes demonstrates its commitment to standards of judgment and justice, its distinctive views of blame and responsibility, its understandings of mercy and forgiveness, and its particular ways of responding to evil. He goes on to discuss the history of punishment in the United States and what it reveals about assumptions made about persons that “undergird” the American system of punishment.
The five additional contributors to The Punitive Imagination seek to illuminate what American practices of punishment tell us about who we are as a nation. Synthesizing cultural, sociological, philosophical, and legal perspectives, they offer a distinctive take on the meaning of punishment in America.
Social science has been an important influence on legal thought since the legal realists of the1930s began to argue that laws should be socially workable as well as legally valid. With the expansion of legal rights in the 1960s, the law and social science were bound together by an optimistic belief that legal interventions, if fully informed by social science, could become an effective instrument of social improvement. Legal justice, it was hoped, could translate directly into social justice. Though this optimism has receded in both disciplines, social science and the law have remained intimately connected. Social Science, Social Policy, and the Law maps out this new relationship, applying social science to particular legal issues and reflecting upon the role of social science in legal thought. Several case studies illustrate the way that the law is embedded within the tangled interests and incentives that drive the social world. One study examines the entrepreneurialism that has shaped our systems of punishment from the colonial practice of deportation to today's privatized jails. Another case shows how many of those who do not qualify for legal aid cannot afford an effective legal defense with the consequence that economic inequality leads to inequality before the law. Two other studies look at the mixed results of legal regulation: the failure of legal safeguards to stop NASA's fatal 1986 Challenger launch decision, and the complicated effects of regulations to curb conflicts of interest in law firms. These two cases demonstrate that the law's effectiveness can depend, not only on how it is drafted, but also on how well it harmonizes with pre-existing social norms and patterns of self-regulation. The contributors to this volume share the belief that social science can and should influence legal policymaking. Empirical research is necessary to offset anecdotal evidence and untested assertions. But research that is acceptable to the academy may not stand up in court, and, as a result, social science does not always get a sympathetic hearing from legal decision makers. The relationship between social science and the law will always be complex; this volume takes a lead in showing how it can nonetheless be productive.