skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 200440 Find in a Library
Title: Advances in Critical Cultural Criminology: An Analysis of Reactions to Avant-Garde Flag Art
Journal: Critical Criminology  Volume:11  Issue:1  Dated:2002  Pages:1-20
Author(s): Michael Welch; John Sassi; Allyson McDonough
Date Published: 2002
Page Count: 20
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Netherlands
Annotation: This study revealed the significance of power, hierarchies, and social inequality as factors that drive criminalization campaigns aimed at controlling avant-garde flag art and political dissent.
Abstract: The focus of this study was a content analysis of the comments made in a ledger book by individuals who attended the 1989 art exhibit in which Dread Scott unveiled his work entitled, "What is the Proper Way To Display the U.S. Flag?" The exhibit, which was presented at the Art Institute of Chicago, placed the American flag on the floor of the gallery, a display that incited public outrage. As a form of interactive art, the artists invited visitors to record their thoughts about the flag in a ledger provided at the exhibit. More than 1,600 comments were recorded in the book. Despite a notable degree of support for the artist and free expression, the comments in the ledger revealed considerable adverse reaction to avant-garde flag art, as it was often viewed as an affront to American patriotism and civil religion. Such public outrage over Scott's flag art in Chicago was not an isolated phenomenon, however; rather it was related to other moral panics over flag desecration and avant-garde art that was occurring nationwide. These findings suggest that authoritarianism, which involves espousing a rigid respect for authority and its symbols of patriotism, nationalism, militarism, and civil religion, is firmly rooted in American culture. Such values maintain a society that tends to shun antiestablishment expression, and in so doing upholds hierarchies that marginalize voices of dissent. This constitutes evidence that "the criminalization process then is that cultural process whereby those in power come to define and shape dominant forms of social life and give them specific meanings" (Presdee 2000: 17). 5 notes and 87 references
Main Term(s): Critical criminology
Index Term(s): Criminalization; Cultural influences; Jurisprudence; Social conditions
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.