The course of law

State intervention in southern lynch mob violence 1882-1930

Kinga Makovi, Ryan Hagen, Peter Bearman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Collective violence when framed by its perpetrators as "citizen" justice is inherently a challenge to state legitimacy. To properly account for such violence, it is necessary to consider an opportunity structure incorporating the actions of both vigilantes and agents of the state. The motivation and lethality of lynch mobs in the South cannot be understood without considering how the state reacted to the legitimacy challenges posed by lynching. We trace the shifting orientation of state agents to lynching attempts between the end of Reconstruction and the start of the Great Depression. Analyzing an inventory of more than 1,000 averted and completed lynching events in three Southern states, we model geographic and temporal patterns in the determinants of mob formation, state intervention, and intervention success. Opponents of lynching often pled with mobs to "let the law take its course." This article examines the course followed by the law itself, as state actors moved between encouraging, accommodating, and in many instances averting mob violence.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)860-888
    Number of pages29
    JournalSociological Science
    Volume3
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Sep 26 2016

    Fingerprint

    state law
    violence
    legitimacy
    Great Depression
    Law
    state formation
    reconstruction
    justice
    determinants
    citizen
    event

    Keywords

    • Collective action
    • Lynching
    • Politics
    • Violence

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Sciences(all)

    Cite this

    The course of law : State intervention in southern lynch mob violence 1882-1930. / Makovi, Kinga; Hagen, Ryan; Bearman, Peter.

    In: Sociological Science, Vol. 3, 26.09.2016, p. 860-888.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Makovi, Kinga ; Hagen, Ryan ; Bearman, Peter. / The course of law : State intervention in southern lynch mob violence 1882-1930. In: Sociological Science. 2016 ; Vol. 3. pp. 860-888.
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