1st Edition

Betrayal and Betrayers The Sociology of Treachery

By Malin Akerstrom Copyright 1991
    165 Pages
    by Routledge

    166 Pages
    by Routledge

    Betrayal has a deep fascination. It captures our imagination in part because we have all betrayed or been betrayed, in small or large ways. Despite this there has been little serious work on the subject. It was this absence that inspired this book.As Akerstrom notes, betrayal is something that most people have encountered at some point in their lives. She defines betrayal as a breach of trust, when information is shared beyond an agreed upon boundary of relations, whether that boundary is a pair of friends or a nation. Taking as a point of departure Simmers work on secrets and secrecy, Akerstrom discusses categories of.betrayal, and conditions that influence its intensity. Sometimes the betrayer is seen as a hero and at other times a traitor; and sometimes there are competing loyalties. In certain situations, she reminds us, it is difficult to avoid betrayal or the perception of betrayal. Akerstrom discusses strategies people employ to avoid betraying, ranging from not telling, to making sure one does not know about something in the first place. With deft precision, she clarifies distinctions and in the process broadens our understanding.Initially inspired by insights arising from her research on the criminal informer, for which she had done in-depth interviews, Akerstrom supplements these with interviews with policemen. She has also drawn from her experiences in the field of social work, particularly with women's and crime shelters. Using biographies, autobiographies and a broad range of literature related to spies, World War II, the McCarthy era, and recent literature on whistle-blowing, Akerstrom has defined a fascinating theme. While her illustrations are sometimes dramatic, she hopes that readers will perceive obvious parallels with their own experiences. Social psychologists, sociologists, criminologists, and others interested in secrecy, secrets, and those who betray them to others will find this an unusual and absorbing volume.

    101: Introduction; 1: Betrayal and Betrayers; 2: Third Party Views; 3: Heroes or Traitors?; 4: Neutrality as Betrayal; 5: Avoidance of Betrayal; 6: A One-Context Analysis: Crime and Informers; 6a: Outcasts in Prison; 6b: The Social Construction of Snitches; 6c: Snitches on Snitching; 7: Cronstedt: A Concluding Illustration


    Malin Akerstrom