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Dogmen: The Rationalization of Deviance

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Dogmen are individuals who fight their pit bulls in matches against other pit bulls. This paper uses neutralization theory to examine the rationalizations of dogmen as they attempt to counter stigma and criminal identity in a world that is becoming increasingly intolerant of dogfighting. To maintain their rationalizations, the dogmen use four recurring techniques : (a) denial of injury;(b) condemnation of the condemners; (c) appeal to higher loyalties; and (d) a defense that says dogmen are good people (their deviance-dogfighting expunged by their good character). The authors conducted interviews with 31 individuals who fight and breed pit bulls and with significant others in the dogfighting enterprise, including Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) officials, veterinarians, and local law enforcement officers. The research also examined newspaper accounts of dogfighting. This article provides some insights into the social construction of reality of individuals who engage in an activity that most of us find reprehensible. As with any criminal/deviant behavior, understanding and subsequent solving of the problem begin with knowledge of the offender's perspective.



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