Animal Studies Bibliography
Forsyth, Craig J. and Rhonda D. Evans. 1998. Dogmen: The Rationalization of Deviance. Society & Animals 6(3): 203-218.
In this article, Forsyth and Evans examine how those involved with dogfighting justify their deviant acts. The authors discuss the rules of dogfighting and depict the horrors of dogfighting through several accounts of dogs that have suffered and died because of the fights. After they have proven their point about this act being deviant, the authors move in to talk about neutralization techniques that are used to rationalize this behavior.
The authors state that Dogmen were found to use three main neutralization techniques: denial of injury, condemnation of the condemners, and appeal to higher loyalties (p. 206). When denying injury, dogmen claim that the dogs are not being hurt in the fights and that they like it, in fact, they have been bred for fighting. When dogmen choose the tactic of condemning the condemners, they argue that dogfighting is similar to sanctioned sports such as boxing. One person that was interviewed stated that dogfighters are not cruel people, they are no different than boxing trainers or football coaches (p. 209). In an appeal to higher loyalties, dogmen talk about the tradition of dogfighting, how it is a part of the culture. Dogmen also defend themselves by listing well-known, respected people who have been involved in dogfighting and by claiming that they are good people.
The authors then look at how animal activists counter these statements. The animal protectionists argue that dogmen are not good people, that their practices are inhumane, and that the dogs do not enjoy the fights and often die as a result of them.
The authors state that like members of other deviant occupations, dogfighters have developed their own ideologies to deal with the stigma of legal harassment and public condemnation. These ideologies are used as mechanisms for maintaining the status of those who are members of the occupation and to counter the attacks of outsiders (p. 214). Their discussion ends with a look at culture conflict, or using law to change people's relationship to the environment, and how social change has affected environmental deviance(p. 215, 216).