When bad things happen: Toward a sociology of troubles

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Scopus citations


This article argues that troubles - including how they are identified, how responsibilities for their creation and remedy are assigned, and the actions people pursue to resolve them - are a central sociological concern that runs across a wide array of sub-fields. This article illustrates this point by examining how troubles are discussed in literatures including the sociology of law (or, more broadly, law and society), social movement studies, social problems, and organizational quality and conflict. Furthermore, this article argues that more is being lost by parceling these questions into disconnected sub-fields chosen based on the resolution process (i.e., use a court to resolve the problem, use a social movement, use policy-making) than is being intellectually gained. To make this point, common findings, questions, and quandaries that emerge from a broader examination of a sociology of troubles are discussed. The article recommends that a broader sociology of troubles be developed, bringing the welter of sub-?elds studying troubles into smoother conversation, and recommends analyses that consider multiple resolution alternatives (e.g., ?ling a lawsuit, versus protesting, versus "lumping it").

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAccess to Justice
EditorsRebecca Sandefur
Number of pages24
StatePublished - 2009

Publication series

NameSociology of Crime Law and Deviance
ISSN (Print)1521-6136

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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