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Citizens for Decency

Citizens for Decency
Antipornography Crusades as Status Defense

The first systematic, comprehensive, and theory-oriented study of antipornography crusades and one of the few studies that analyze movements to resist change.

March 1976
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428 pages | 6 x 9 |

Throughout the United States, groups of individuals have been confronting the issues surrounding sexually explicit materials. Many have concurred in their perceptions of what is pornographic, have assessed pornography to be a problem our society must deal with, and have made organized efforts within their communities to stop or restrict the commercial availability of such materials. Citizens for Decency is an examination of two antipornography crusades, one in the Midwest and the other in the Southwest. It examines the evolution and impact of such crusades, the satisfaction derived from participating, and the relevant characteristics of the participants and their opponents. It is the first systematic, comprehensive, and theory-oriented study of antipornography crusades and one of the few studies that analyze movements to resist change.

The book begins with the assumption that the term pornography is a value judgment and that the labeling of sexually explicit materials as “pornographic” can be adequately understood only in the wider context of sociological and psychological structures and processes. In approaching the antipornography crusades, Louis A. Zurcher and R. George Kirkpatrick gathered data by observation and document search and by interviews with persons well informed about and central to the crusades. Their examination of the organizations that directed the two movements is particularly extensive, and their comparative analysis of the two organizations allows them to determine which features are the most important, how these characteristics interact, and what their relationship is to the symbolic crusade.

Among their important findings, the authors show that antipornography crusaders are people discontent with their status who have mobilized to protect the dominance and prestige of their traditional life styles. The participants in the crusades are shown to differ from their opponents in a number of significant ways. In the final chapters, the authors analyze their findings with reference to social movement theory and offer predictions concerning future symbolic crusades.

  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Introduction: Theoretical Aspects of Antipornography Crusades
  • 2. Structural Conduciveness: “A Little Slice of Real America”
  • 3. Structural Strain: “Changes Are Raging out of Control!”
  • 4. Generalized Beliefs: “Pornography Is Leading Us to the Fall of Rome!”
  • 5. Precipitating Factors: “Dung in Our Own Nest, As It Were!”
  • 6. Mobilization for Action: “We Showed Them Where We Stand!”
  • 7. Social Control: “Decency Cannot Be Stopped!”
  • 8. Conporns versus Proporns
  • 9. Organizational Characteristics of the Antipornography Crusades
  • 10. Conclusions
  • 11. After the Crusades: The Commission Reports, Conporns Respond, and the Supreme Court Redeems Itself
  • Appendix: The Structured Questionnaire
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Louis A. Zurcher Jr. (1936–1987) was Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. R. George Kirkpatrick (1943–2005) was Associate Professor of Sociology at California State University at San Diego.


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This book may also be available on the following library platforms; check with your local library:
3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca