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Reconsidering retaliation: Structural inhibitions, emotive dissonance, and the acceptance of ambivalence among inner-city young men

Robert Garot
Ethnography
Vol. 10, No. 1 (March 2009), pp. 63-90
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/24047977
Page Count: 28
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Reconsidering retaliation: Structural inhibitions, emotive dissonance, and the acceptance of ambivalence among inner-city young men
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Abstract

Contemporary criminology directs a great deal of attention toward the factors which may lead to crime and violence, but little attention to individuals in circumstances which fit all the necessary conditions but who abstain from criminal or violent acts. This is in marked contrast to the law and society literature, where 'lumping it' (Felstiner, 1974) has long been recognized as the overwhelming default response in most disputes. This article examines this criminological gap, exploring the emotive dissonance and ambivalence experienced by young men who abstain from retaliating due to structural constraints. Each one, faced with an agonizing loss, is compelled to seek violent retaliation against the antagonist perceived responsible for the loss. Yet each is constrained by their enmeshment in the local social structure and the potential havoc that such violence might bring. Furthermore, by focusing primarily on moments of violence, criminology misses the enormous range of nonviolent moments, among both violent offenders and others. Exploring each consultant's existential gap will enrich our understanding of the criminological gap between independent and dependent variables, toward appreciating the agency and resourcefulness of young men caught in potentially violent dilemmas.

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