Dueling tragedies: A critical read of the Lautenberg story

Phoebe Morgan, Madelaine Adelman, J. Stephen Soli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Every law tells a story and some of the stories we tell become the law. Conceptualizing law as literature and taking a social science approach, we examine the dynamics of a storytelling contest between the National Network to End Domestic Violence and a coalition of law enforcement professional organizations regarding the most stringent federal gun control legislation in the United States - the 1997 Lautenberg Amendment. Relying upon qualitative content analysis, we discovered that contestants drew upon the same elements of classic tragedy to compose different stories. Our analysis compares the resources and experiences available to each coalition and examines how differences between them affected the stories told. We discuss the role that dueling tragedies play in public policy controversies and evaluate the implications our case study has for understanding the competition for legislation, storytelling research and the conceptualization of law as literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)424-451
Number of pages28
JournalLaw, Culture and the Humanities
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Law


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