The Path of the Devil is organized around three fundamental theories: witch hunts as functional sacrificial ceremonies, realistic conflict and strategic persecution, and scapegoat phenomena. All conjectures point to the role of epidemic disease, war, and climactic and economic hardships as considerable factors. However, such crises have to be differentiated: when war is measured as a quantitative characteristic it is found to inhibit witch hunts, while epidemic disease and economic hardship encourages them. The book integrates the sociologies of collective behavior, contentious conflict, and deviance with cross-disciplinary theory and research. The final chapters examine the Salem witch trials as 'a perfect storm,' and illustrate the general patterns found for early modern witch hunts and 'modern witch hunts,' which exhibit similarities that are found to be more than metaphorical.
Gary Jensen is a professor of sociology and religious studies at Vanderbilt University and has held faculty appointments at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and the University of Arizona. He has published over sixty articles and chapters and authored, coauthored, or edited eight books on criminology. Jensen was installed as a fellow of the American Society of Criminology in 2001.The Path of the Devil was completed with support from the National Science Foundation and Vanderbilt University.
Chapter 1 The Early Modern Witch Craze Chapter 2 Explaining Witch Hunts: Sacrifice, Persecution, and Scapegoat Theories Chapter 3 Apocalyptic Crises: Pestilence, War, and Famine Chapter 4 A Discourse on Measures Chapter 5 Untangling Relationships Chapter 6 Shifting Enemies: Scapegoating, Victimology, and Collective Conflict Chapter 7 The Salem Witch Hunt: A Perfect Storm Chapter 8 Modern "Witch Hunts": More than a Metaphor?