The Racing Game

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This study of a unique social world probes beneath the thrill and spectacle of horse racing into the lives of the "honest boys," the "gyps," the "manipulators," the "stoops," and the "Chalk eaters"—the constituents of race track society and the players of the racing game. With scientific precision and journalistic vigor, Scott describes the everyday activities—the objectives and strategies—of those whose lives are organized around track proceedings and who compete with chance and one another.

The players in the racing game range from track owners to stable boys, from law enforcers to lawbreakers, and from casual sportsmen to pathologically addicted gamblers. Considering the self-interests, the normative and operational codes, and the interactional relationships among the major types and subtypes of participants, the author defines the components of strategic movement within the framework of rules and resources to show how a player's relations to the "means of production" governs his behavior.

The fruitful application of sociological theory and method to an unusually interesting social context makes this particularly useful still for courses in social problems and the sociology of organizations and of leisure.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The author views horse racing from numerous perspectives, and in so doing he reveals a number of fascinating struggles, both on the track and off. His penetrating examination of the people who bet on horses challenges the stereotypes held by those who have read only Damon Runyan and can’t tell a furlong from a gelding. He describes the elaborate and ritualized efforts of horse players to see themselves as cool, rational, and conservative, while wagering on the outcome of events that are partly athletic contests and partly carefully contrived theatrical spectacles, with various kinds of licit and illicit business enterprises entertwined. . . . [T]his book is valuable for its description of some social behavior which most sociologists will never otherwise know. . . . [R]eading it is a pleasure.” —Wm. Bruce Cameron, Social Forces “Some fifteen years of personal and familiar contact with almost every aspect of horse racing combined with three years of systematic participant-observation furnished the basic data. The outcome of this effort is an eminently readable and detailed study. . . . [I]t is a book to be read with interest by the social scientist, with discomfort by the horsemen, with trepidation by the horseplayer, but surely with some degree of fascination by all.” —Irving Kenneth Zola, American Sociological Review "...when he was teaching at Berkeley, Goffman asked me to come to his seminar to hear a student, Marvin Scott, present his research on horse racing. the course of his presentation, Scott suggested in passing that gamblers, including horse players, sometimes had 'winning streaks' or 'losing streaks.' Goffman, who had been listening appreciatively until that point, interrupted to say that of course Scott meant that they thought they had such streaks of good or bad luck. But Scott said no, these were observable 'facts.' Goffman, unwilling to accept such supernatural talk, persisted, appealing to the laws of probability to assure Scott that such 'streaks' were natural occurrences in any long run of tries in such a game as blackjack or craps." —Howard Becker
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780202308098
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/1/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 202
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Marvin B. Scott retired in 2001 as professor of sociology at Hunter College, City University of New York. He previously taught at San Francisco State College and received his Ph.D. in 1966 at the University of California, Berkeley.

Jaime Suchlicki, one of the leading scholars of Latin America, has taught Mexican and Cuban history for more than thirty years. Formerly executive director of the North-South Center at the University of Miami, he is now Bacardi Professor at the Graduate School of International Studies. He formerly edited the Journal of Inter-American Studies and World Affairs and has had a number of advisory positions in public and private sectors. He is author of University Students and Revolution in Cuba and Cuba: From Columbus to Castro.

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