Governance by scandal? Eradicating sexual assault in the US military

Thomas Crosbie, Jensen SASS

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article examines the relationship between scandal and democracy through the case of sexual assault within the US military. Scandal is routinely seen as hostile to democracy. It signals either the corruption of prominent institutions or the decline of ethical journalism. But scandal may have a positive dimension in forcing tainted institutions to correct their course. To explore this thesis,
we examine how the US military responded to news reports of sexual assault over a period of nearly four decades. During the first three decades of this period, news reports of sexual assault were widespread but largely ignored by military leaders. During the last decade, however, the fact that sexual assault was endemic but largely ignored by the armed forces triggered a scandal,
one senior military figures were forced to address. In light of this case, the article concludes that scandal can function as a mechanism of democratic governance, where it compels social and ethical norms to be properly enforced.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-133
Number of pages17
JournalPolitical Studies
Volume37
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

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