Embracing the Paradigm of Dirty Hands

in Language of the Gun

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2006 | ISBN: 9780226316086
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226316079 | DOI:
Embracing the Paradigm of Dirty Hands

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The Catalina interviews (the interviews of young males at the Catalina Mountain School in Tucson, Arizona) lend support to four methodological approaches. But at the same time, they expose the assumptions about human behavior embedded in each. The interviews reveal moments of individual decision making, of instrumental reasoning, and deliberate choice. The Catalina interviews also reveal recurring registers of gun talk. Commodities, protection, suicide—there are patterns in the way the Catalina youths talk about guns. But how do those patterns become necessary, and why should we assume that they influence behavior? The youths recount recurring scripts about gun carrying. They seem to know well how to play these encounters. At the same time, the reiteration seems to modify the performance. Sometimes it leads to gunfire, at other times to a standoff. The empirical data from the Catalina School raise more questions than they answer.

Keywords: Catalina interviews; human behavior; individual decision making; guns; methodological approach; gun carrying

Chapter.  3198 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

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