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Book cover: Sociology of Crime Law and Deviance

Sociology of Crime Law and Deviance

ISSN: 1521-6136
Series editor(s): Professor Mathieu Deflem

Subject Area: Sociology and Public Policy

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When bad things happen: Toward a sociology of troubles

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Title:When bad things happen: Toward a sociology of troubles
Author(s):Jennifer Earl
Volume:12 Editor(s): Rebecca L. Sandefur ISBN: 978-1-84855-242-5 eISBN: 978-1-84855-243-2
Citation:Jennifer Earl (2009), When bad things happen: Toward a sociology of troubles, in Rebecca L. Sandefur (ed.) Access to Justice (Sociology of Crime Law and Deviance, Volume 12), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.231-254
DOI:10.1108/S1521-6136(2009)0000012013 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article type:Chapter Item
Abstract:This article argues that troubles – including how they are identified, how responsibilities for their creation and remedy are assigned, and the actions people pursue to resolve them – are a central sociological concern that runs across a wide array of sub-fields. This article illustrates this point by examining how troubles are discussed in literatures including the sociology of law (or, more broadly, law and society), social movement studies, social problems, and organizational quality and conflict. Furthermore, this article argues that more is being lost by parceling these questions into disconnected sub-fields chosen based on the resolution process (i.e., use a court to resolve the problem, use a social movement, use policy-making) than is being intellectually gained. To make this point, common findings, questions, and quandaries that emerge from a broader examination of a sociology of troubles are discussed. The article recommends that a broader sociology of troubles be developed, bringing the welter of sub-fields studying troubles into smoother conversation, and recommends analyses that consider multiple resolution alternatives (e.g., filing a lawsuit, versus protesting, versus “lumping it”).

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