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Crimes of Obedience
  • Jul 25, 1990
    320 p., 6 1/8 x 9 1/4

    ISBN: 9780300048131
  • Paper: $21.00 tx
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History
Law
Political Science
Psychology
Social Science


Crimes of Obedience

Toward a Social Psychology of Authority and Responsibility

  • V. Lee Hamilton and Herbert Kelman
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Reviews

"The legal and historical background is excellent. . . . The authors identify authorization, routinization, and dehumanization as conditions under which the usual moral inhibitions become weakened. . . . The book successfully combines fascinating issues, scientific objectivity, and personal advocacy. Strongly recommended for general readers and undergraduates."—Choice

"Despite . . . diverse traditions, the book remains fully coherent and tightly unified. The constructs drawn from these traditions are skillfully interwoven into a sensible and surprisingly seamless web of explanation. The writing is careful and clear almost throughout, evincing a strong desire to communicate with the reader. The authors convey difficult, subtle, or ambiguous concepts not through terse black-white definitions, but, instead, in such a way as to communicate nuances of meaning and usage."—Andre Modigliani, Contemporary Sociology

"Refreshing as well as disturbing reading."—Alfred McClung Lee, The Annals of the American Academy

"A case study in political psychology. The authors boldly interweave a micro-level examination of psychological constructs and interpersonal relations with a macro-level analysis of sociopolitical contexts. . . . Though highly readable, the book is nevertheless challenging because of the intricate nature of its subject. . . . We thus have access now to a far more complete account of destructive obedience. In its dedication to theory and contemporary relevance—to the realization that behavior is a function of the person and the situation—their book reflects the spirit of Kurt Lewin. I can think of no higher accolade."—Arthur G. Miller, Contemporary Psychology

"This should be of particular interest to social scientists, moralists, and philosophers and contains a wealth of ideas that could serve as the basis for much dissertation research."—Library Journal

"It is filled with interesting social psychological theorizing and with case studies of significant examples of crimes of obedience. . . . The book should remind all participants in the educative process that it is, in fact, their duty to provide the democratic decision makers who will occupy the empowered roles called for by Kelman and Hamilton."—Herbert Hirsch, The Educational Forum

"Contribute[s] original sociological analysis in its identification of traits correlating to the propensity to commit crimes of obedience. The book thus succeeds in presenting a thought-provoking framework for studying a troubling phenomenon—Michael Kenneth Isenman, Michigan Law Review

"The book has a definitive, polished quality. . . . Highly readable . . . challenging. . . . The complexity and ambiguity surrounding crimes of obedience are superbly rendered in this book. . . . The authors teach us to look much closer and deeper into the causes of these tragedies. A particularly unique contribution of this book is a concern with individual differences in orientation toward authority. . . . Kelman and Hamilton make an important advance in filling this critical gap in our understanding of responses to authority. . . . This book should, ideally, be an important stimulus for research, for we need to become more vigilant in identifying crimes of obedience in the contexts of our lives, and to respond to them more constructively. . . . In its dedication to theory and contemporary relevance—to the realization that behavior is a function of the person and the situation—their book reflects the spirit of Kurt Lewin. I can think of no higher accolade."—Arthur G. Miller, Contemporary Psychology

"This is a major book in social psychology that deserves the attention of both sociological and psychological traditions. With its focus on concepts such as legitimacy and responsibility that bridge the individual and the social system, it is firmly rooted in an interdisciplinary vision of social psychology. In its recognition that resistance to crimes of obedience depends on collective processes, it makes a major contribution to the social psychology of social movements."—William A. Gamson, American Journal of Sociology

"A patently original, socially compelling, thoroughly scholarly dissection of actions in response to commands by authorities that are morally repugnant to some or many of the participants and the rest of us."—Leonard W. Doob, The Key Reporter

"The book successfully combines fascinating issues, scientific objectivity, and personal advocacy. Strongly recommended."—Choice

"This book explains how individuals in authority can abuse their power by failing to distinguish between discipline and blind obedience. Crimes of Obedience should be required reading for every American citizen."—Senator Daniel K. Inouye

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