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27 Social Problems 109 (1979)


In this paper we examine the sanctioning of one type of political deviance, draft resistance, in two different social and political contexts: an era of coercive control and a period of cooptive control. A focus on the sanctioning of draft resisters allows a unique opportunity to examine the societal response to what the New Criminologists (Taylor et al., 1973:267) describe as the "purposive creator and innovator of action" whose crimes are the product of ". . . individual or collective action taken to Resolve... inequalities of power and interest." Our data cover a fourteen year period and consist of information obtained through a content analysis of newspaper articles and editorials on draft resistance and reform activities, and of information on defendants and dispositions from the records of the Federal District Court of an American city. Our principal interest is in isolating criteria (e.g., race and type of resistance) guiding the application of sanctions in the two periods. Our findings indicate that these criteria vary in their influence by context, and that a conflict theory of deviance and control will therefore benefit by taking social and political context into account.