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Enemies of the People: Whistle-Blowing and the Sociology of Tragedy
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Enemies of the People is a book that examines whistle-blowing—i.e., the unauthorized conveyance of sensitive information to mass media and authorities—and the social responses this performance provokes. The book develops a fresh view of this phenomenon by framing the trend of events according to a couple of fundamental elements found in tragedy.

The book also includes a critical appraisal of the perspectives that set the tone in the existent whistle-blowing research. The prevalent one-sidedness found in this field of research is reviewed and contrasted with the contributions delivered in the present study.

The analysis is based on three famous whistle-blowing cases that received a lot of attention in mass media: Ingvar Bratt and the Bofors affair; Odd F. Lindberg and the Norwegian seal hunting affair; and finally, Paul van Buitenen and the Leonardo-affair in the European Commission.

The author claims that by studying the sociology of tragedy, it is possible to develop a new way of examining social processes where the final outcome is the excommunication of the appointed culprits through, for example, expulsion or avoidance. This purgatorial process is treated as a social status degradation, where the offender experiences a thorough social identity transformation that turns his or her social position to a lower social rank than initially held.

The title of this book alludes to a stage play written by the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. His dramatic piece An Enemy of the People, written in 1882, plays a prominent part in this study.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2009. , 248 p.
Stockholm studies in sociology, ISSN 0491-0885 ; N.S., 38
Keyword [en]
whistle-blowing, tragedy, dramaturgical sociology, situational analysis, status degradation, identity transformation, mass media, organizations, moral indignation, Henrik Ibsen, seal-hunting, Bofors, Norway, Karlskoga
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-30150ISBN: 978-91-86071-25-7OAI: diva2:242349
Public defence
2009-11-06, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2009-10-15 Created: 2009-10-05 Last updated: 2012-10-05Bibliographically approved

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Haglunds, Magnus
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