Hustlers, Beats and Others by Ned Polsky


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Pelican, 1969. 

'Ranging from pool hustling to pornography, this book analyses perceived 'deviant branches' of American life, dispels misconceptions about them, and throws new light on sociological theory and method. Each chapter radically dissents from one or more mainstream opinions about deviance.

The first chapter examines the alleged causes for the decline of American poolrooms, traces their rise and fall in relation to historical changes in America's social structure, and dissects the recent poolroom revival.
The second chapter, reports a field study pool hustling, describing the hustler's work situation and career from recruitment to retirement.
The third chapter sharply criticises our criminology textbooks for avoiding the study of uncaught adult criminals in their natural environments. The author describes field techniques he has used with career felons, offers new findings gleaned by means of these techniques, and answers moral objections to such research.
The forth chapter presents the first genuinely empirical study of the so called 'beat delinquent sub-culture', challenging the mainstream journalistic views.
The final chapter, on the sociology of pornography, holds that the courts are wrong to claim that naturalistic erotic art is non-pornographic, and incorrect still to claim that hard-core pornography is, in Mr. Justice Brennan's words, "utterly without redeeming social importance."

The author's unusual blend of empirical, theoretical, and methodological contributions to the study of deviance is enlivened by a witty yet disputatious style, for Mr. Polsky believes that polemical scholarship improves the quality of intellectual life by forcing genteel discussion to become genuine debate.'