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Credit and Blame

Credit and Blame

Charles Tilly
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 196
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  • Book Info
    Credit and Blame
    Book Description:

    In his eye-opening bookWhy?, world-renowned social scientist Charles Tilly exposed some startling truths about the excuses people make and the reasons they give. Now he's back with further explorations into the complexities of human relationships, this time examining what's really going on when we assign credit or cast blame.

    Everybody does it, but few understand the hidden motivations behind it. With his customary wit and dazzling insight, Tilly takes a lively and thought-provoking look at the ways people fault and applaud each other and themselves. The stories he gathers inCredit and Blamerange from the everyday to the altogether unexpected, from the revealingly personal to the insightfully humorous--whether it's the gushing acceptance speech of an Academy Award winner or testimony before a congressional panel, accusations hurled in a lover's quarrel or those traded by nations in a post-9/11 crisis, or a job promotion or the Nobel Prize. Drawing examples from literature, history, pop culture, and much more, Tilly argues that people seek not only understanding through credit and blame, but also justice. The punishment must fit the crime, accomplishments should be rewarded, and the guilty parties must always get their just deserts.

    Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written,Credit and Blameis a book that revolutionizes our understanding of the compliments we pay and the accusations we make.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2964-4
    Subjects: Sociology, Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xii)
    (pp. 1-30)

    In Dostoevsky’s chilling novelCrime and Punishment, poverty-stricken and ailing ex-student Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov figures first as antihero, then finally as hero. At the book’s very start, Raskolnikov descends the stairs from his shabby room to the St. Petersburg street. As he reflects on the crime he is contemplating, he mutters to himself:

    Hm . . . yes . . . a man holds the fate of the world in his two hands, and yet, simply because he is afraid, he just lets things drift—that is a truism . . . I wonder what men are most afraid of...

  5. 2 JUSTICE
    (pp. 31-60)

    In 2002, Benetta Buell-Wilson was an athletic woman with a black belt in martial arts. She was also a married 46-year-old mother of two who was finishing a master’s degree in education and about to start a second career as a teacher. On 19 January 2002, Mrs. Wilson was driving her 1997 Ford Explorer down a slight incline on Interstate 8 near Alpine, California.

    Then, according to a vivid 2006 trial record,

    Suddenly, Mrs. Wilson saw what appeared to be a metal object break loose from a motor home in front of her and bounce directly toward her windshield. As...

  6. 3 CREDIT
    (pp. 61-90)

    During the turbulent year of 1929, two dramatic events occurred, with very different impacts on American life. In October a shocked country faced a stock market crash that ushered in the great depression of the 1930s. Four months earlier, on the 16th of May, the first Academy Awards ceremony took place at a banquet in the Blossom Room of Los Angeles’s Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. World War II pulled the United States out of its long depression. The Academy Awards, however, have never ceased.

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences formed in 1927, but took two years to arrive...

  7. 4 BLAME
    (pp. 91-119)

    In 2003, the 20th of February brought consuming fire to West Warwick, Rhode Island. That night the rock band Great White performed at the West Warwick nightclub The Station, owned by brothers Michael and Jeffrey Derderian. As the band played, band manager Daniel Biechele lighted fireworks. The club’s polyurethane foam insulation instantly burst into flames. The fire killed 100 people. Beset by civil suits on behalf of fire victims, the Derderian brothers filed for bankruptcy in November 2005. In 2006, Rhode Island courts sentenced Biechele to four years in prison for involuntary manslaughter. The Derderian brothers pled no contest to...

    (pp. 120-152)

    My brother Richard has become more or less German. Despite his growing up in Illinois, his nearly fifty years of analyzing German history and nearly forty years of living in Germany have left him with a German family, a German accent, and a German perspective on world affairs. Meanwhile, my family was becoming French, although not to the extent that Richard’s was becoming German. My son Chris was born in Angers, France. All of us eventually accumulated years of French residence. When Richard’s and my families get together, we often compare notes on French-German-American differences.

    A few years after Richard...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 153-160)
    (pp. 161-172)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 173-183)