Becker: Moral Entrepreneurs

Becker, H. “Moral Entrepreneurs,” pp. 147-164 in Outsiders.1

  1. Moral Entrepreneurs
  2. Moral Crusader
  3. Symbolic Crusade (Gusfield) : “Issues of moral reform are analyzed as one way through which a cultural group acts to preserve, defend, or enhance the dominance and prestige, of its own style of living within the total society.”
  4. Examples
    1. Anthony Comstock
    2. Prohibitionist
  5. Change in American religion in 19th century – “invention” of evangelical approach in which “spreading the word” was taken as a serious component of one’s duty. Origins in New England.
  6. Key component in moral crusader is judgement of other as fallen or lower. Part of the mission is to help those below oneself. Note the resonance with the degradation ceremony. The thing that links them is the ability of rules to “place” people within a status hierarchy.
  7. Gusfield’s types of reformers
    1. Normative
    2. Assimilative
  8. Put yourself out of a job if you are “too” successful
  9. Preoccupation becomes occupation (Adam Walsh)
  10. Very important to remember that once you create an organization it develops an appetite. Even when their job is done, organizations rarely disappear willingly. As a tool for turning ideas plus resources into action, we seem to feel that “an organization is a terrible thing to waste.”
  11. Roles
    1. Moral Crusader
    2. Rule Maker
    3. Rule Enforcer
  12. Continued justification for his/her job. Rules exist because infractions occur. If it is your job to enforce then you have to make sure there is a constant level of detection.
  13. Two claims
    1. Problem nearing solution
    2. Problem is still with us, worth than ever before. Standard feature of morning TV.
  14. Win respect of people s/he deals with