The American Sociologist

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 5–23

Blame analysis: Accounting for the behavior of protected groups

  • Richard B. Felson


When a group is not doing as well as other groups on some dimension, group members and sympathizers give accounts that attempt to minimize the group’s blame for its predicament. These accounts reflect concerns about prejudice, as well as policy concerns. This approach to social science may be called “blame analysis,” because it evaluates theories according to the extent to which they blame protected groups. Blame analysis treats cause and blame as the same, and rejects theoretical arguments that posit any causal role for the protected group because they “blame the victim.” As a result, discussions of proximate causes and mediating variables are avoided in explanations of outcomes for these groups. The author argues that this approach violates scientific principles and discourages the investigation of important issues.


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Copyright information

© Transaction Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard B. Felson
    • 1
  1. 1.the University at AlbanyState University of New YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyState University of New YorkAlbany

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