Enemies of the People is a book that examines whistle-blowing - i.e., the unauthorized conveyance of sensitive information to mass media and authorities - and the social responses this performance provokes. The book develops a fresh view of this phenomenon by framing the trend of events according to a couple of fundamental elements found in tragedy. The analysis is based on three famous whistle-blowing cases that received a lot of attention in mass media: Ingvar Bratt and the Bofors affair; Odd F. Lindberg and the Norwegian seal hunting affair; and finally, Paul van Buitenen and the Leonardo-affair in the European Commission. The author claims that by studying the sociology of tragedy, it is possible to develop a new way of examining social processes where the final outcome is the excommunication of the appointed culprits through, for example, expulsion or avoidance. This purgatorial process is treated as a social status degradation, where the offender experiences a thorough social identity transformation that turns his or her social position to a lower social rank than initially held. The title of this book alludes to a stage play written by the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. His dramatic piece An Enemy of the People, written in 1882, plays a prominent part in this study.
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