Enron's perp walk

Status degradation ceremonies as narrative

Gray Cavender, Kishonna Gray, Kenneth W. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The collapse of Enron and revelations about the widespread financial wrongdoing of other corporations prompted congressional hearings in 2002. The hearings culminated in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, legislation that regulates the accounting industry and imposes prison sentences on executives who lie on their corporations' financial statements. There was extensive media coverage of Enron and the other high-profile corporations and of the congressional hearings into their wrongdoing. In this paper, we analyze the media representations of these matters. We focus on media coverage of the political language that was offered during the hearings, on the media's own characterizations of these events, and on how the coverage represented corporate wrongdoing and its control. Our analysis is in three parts. First, we track the 'bad apples' language that shifted blame from the corporations onto individuals. Second, we consider the angry denunciations from Congress that resemble status degradation ceremonies. Third, we analyze the hearings as representations of the scandal story using a critical dramaturgy. We argue that the hearings became a spectacle that deflected critique from the economy and shored up the legitimacy of the government and the economy. The usage of critical dramaturgy helps us to make sense of criminological research about the public's sensibilities of corporate crime.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-266
Number of pages16
JournalCrime, Media, Culture
Volume6
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2010

Fingerprint

Audition
corporation
dramaturgy
narrative
Degradation
coverage
Industry
political language
denunciation
economy
scandal
imprisonment
Prisons
legitimacy
Crime
legislation
act
offense
Hearing
Ceremony

Keywords

  • corporate crime
  • critical dramaturgy
  • political news
  • status degradation ceremony

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law
  • Communication
  • Cultural Studies

Cite this

Enron's perp walk : Status degradation ceremonies as narrative. / Cavender, Gray; Gray, Kishonna; Miller, Kenneth W.

In: Crime, Media, Culture, Vol. 6, No. 3, 12.2010, p. 251-266.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Cavender, Gray ; Gray, Kishonna ; Miller, Kenneth W. / Enron's perp walk : Status degradation ceremonies as narrative. In: Crime, Media, Culture. 2010 ; Vol. 6, No. 3. pp. 251-266.
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