Hustlers, Beats and Others

Hustlers, Beats and Others

by Ned Polsky
     
 

Ranging from pool hustling to pornography, this book analyzes deviant branches of American life, dispels misconceptions about them, and throws new light on sociological theory and method. Each chapter radically dissents from one or more mainstream opinions about deviance.

The first chapter examines the alleged causes for the decline of American poolrooms and

Overview

Ranging from pool hustling to pornography, this book analyzes deviant branches of American life, dispels misconceptions about them, and throws new light on sociological theory and method. Each chapter radically dissents from one or more mainstream opinions about deviance.

The first chapter examines the alleged causes for the decline of American poolrooms and finds them wanting, traces the rise and fall of poolrooms to historical changes in America's social structure, and cogently dissects the recent poolroom revival. The second chapter, reports a field study of a deviant occupation, pool hustling, describing the hustler's work situation and career from recruitment to retirement. In revealing how pool hustlers, although dedicated wholly to a vocation that merely breaks unenforced gambling laws, frequently supplement their income by means of outright felonies, the author develops a new theory of "crime as moonlighting." The third chapter sharply criticizes our criminology textbooks for avoiding the study of uncaught adult criminals in their natural environments. It demonstrates such research to be both necessary and practical with career felons as well as moonlighters. The author describes field techniques he has used with career felons, offers new findings gleaned by means of these techniques, and answers moral objections to such research. The forth chapter presents the first genuinely empirical study of the beat delinquent sub-culture, in which the author corrects some journalistic views such as that most beats are exhibitionists and some sociological ones such as that "retreatist" drug-users can meet neither legitimate nor criminal success norms. The final chapter, on the sociology of pornography, holds that the courts are wrong to claim that naturalistic erotic art is non-pornographic, and wronger still to claim that hard-core pornography is, in Mr. Justice Brennan's words, "utterly without redeeming social importance."

The author's unusual blend of empirical, theoretical, and methodological contributions to the study of deviance is enlivened by a witty yet disputatious style, for Mr. Polsky believes that polemical scholarship improves the quality of intellectual life by forcing genteel discussion to become genuine debate.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Hustlers, Beats, and Others is a lively and original editorial on a variety of sociological issues."

Kai T. Erikson, American Sociological Review

"It would be unfortunate if Polsky's provocative insights, criticisms, and suggestions to social scientists regarding their postulates and research methods were to be ignored."

Joseph Botkin, Annals of the American Society of Political and Social Science

"It is clear that Polsky's treatise on poolroom culture and the lore and organization of hustling is a labor of longtime love, born of early first-hand experience as an aficionado and furthered by subsequent research interest."

Edwin M. Lemert, American Journal of Sociology

"Polsky's postulates on field research with criminals are extremely significant in terms of theory and methodology . . . . Polsky's book contains original and provocative material, and in content, method, and theory challenges the views of many "eminent" researchers in deviant and criminal behavior . . . . This book marks a brilliant contribution to the field of deviant behavior and is far superior to most of the current or past publications in this area."

Julian Roebuck, The Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology, and Poltiical Science

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385034005
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/01/1969

Meet the Author

Ned Polsky (1928-2000) was a professor of sociology at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. Throughout his long career he spent some time in the field of publishing and editing magazines. He has contributed to a variety of magazines and professional journals.

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