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NCJ Number: 77762 Find in a Library
Title: Ironies of Social Control - Authorities as Contributors to Deviance Through Escalation, Nonenforcement and Covert Facilitation
Journal: Social Problems  Volume:28  Issue:3  Dated:(February 1981)  Pages:221-246
Author(s): G T Marx
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 26
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper examines three types of interdependence between rule enforcers and rule breakers at the situational level: escalation, nonenforcement, and covert facilitation.
Abstract: While traditional labeling theory concentrates on secondary deviance, the behavior of control agents before or during rule breaking, the focus here is on infraction itself -- on some of the ways in which it is shaped or induced by prior or concomitant actions of authorities. Three types of situations where social control contributes to or even generates rule breaking behavior are identified. In escalation, authorities unintentionally encourage rulebreaking by taking enforcement action. Nonenforcement intentionally permits rulebreaking as the result of authorities' strategical choice to take no enforcement action. Covert facilitation is the taking of hidden or deceptive action by authorities that intentionally encourages lawbreaking. Typical escalation situations are family disturbances, crowd control, and automobile chases. Nonenforcement frequently takes the form of institutionalized blackmail with respect to informants and agreements with vice entrepreneurs. Disguised police cooperating with lawbreakers or secretly generating motives and opportunities for lawbreaking characterize the third situational category. The sources of escalation are seen in police lack of expertise, police attitudes toward crime that result in self-fulfilling prophesies, and sanctions which seem to increase the gains of lawbreaking. Law enforcement reward, promotion, and performance evaluation systems are conducive to covert facilitation and nonenforcement. The complexity of the modern industrialized environment provides increased opportunity for police-citizen encounters that have the potential to escalate, and a decline of general cultural standards has relaxed the ethical implications of deception. Footnotes and 100 references are provided.
Index Term(s): Deterrence; Labeling theory; Police attitudes; Police-offender relations; Undercover activity
Note: Earlier version of this paper was read at the International Sociological Association meetings, Toronto, (Canada) 1974.
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