The Assassination of Harvey Milk

  • Ron EyermanEmail author
Part of the Cultural Sociology book series (CULTSOC)


In this chapter, I explain why after the 1978 assassination of San Francisco mayor George Moscone and city supervisor Harvey Milk, it is the latter who has achieved world recognition. At the time of their assassination, Moscone was the better-known figure, an American politician with a national reputation. In my analysis, I apply the theories of social drama and cultural trauma in order to shed light on this process, for these theories provide a framework for analyzing how this incident became a significant event both locally and nationally. The fact that Milk was one of the first openly gay people to hold public office in the United States meant that his life and death would have significance for a wide group of people. Individuals and organizations associated with gay liberation became carrier groups that created the Harvey Milk story and influenced how it was told. These carrier groups saw to it that Milk was not merely remembered, but remembered in a particular way.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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