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Measuring Victimhood: Developing a Victim Self-Ascription Scale
Unformatted Document Text:  DRAFT – For permission to cite contact Andy Davies on ## email not listed ## Introduction The study of victims cannot proceed without addressing first the question of who victims are. Victimologists have wrestled long and hard with this definitional question in their attempts to define the parameters of the discipline (Burt, 1983, Mendelsohn 1976, Separovic, 1985, Garkawe, 2004). Generally, these debates have considered what types of victimization should be included, making typological distinctions based on the types of victimizing events, or the level of societal concern for the victim. The choice over who or what to include is inevitably controversial, and the approach of most recent scholars has been to err on the side of caution, suggesting that all persons who feel they have experienced anything unpleasant can be considered victims (Garkawe, 2004). It is perhaps surprising that victimologists have not addressed an additional question, therefore. When is it that people actually think of themselves as victims? The accounts above are little more than heuristic devices intended to organize experiences of suffering into victimizations and non-victimizations without any empirical basis. A more direct approach is to consider victimhood as a subjective state of mind in the victim. From this perspective, the principal consideration (and most effective approach) in defining and studying victimhood is not to make a priori assumptions about what constitutions victim experiences or base judgments on expressed social interest in the plight of particular individuals, but rather to investigate directly the response of individuals to putatively-victimizing events. The question is not whether a particular kind of event merits the title of 'victimization' in the eyes of the law, medicine, or other spectators, but rather whether the individual themselves manifests a state one could consider ‘victimhood’. Page 2

Authors: Davies, Andrew.
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DRAFT – For permission to cite contact Andy Davies on ## email not listed ##
Introduction
The study of victims cannot proceed without addressing first the question of who victims are. 
Victimologists have wrestled long and hard with this definitional question in their attempts to define 
the parameters of the discipline (Burt, 1983, Mendelsohn 1976, Separovic, 1985, Garkawe, 2004). 
Generally, these debates have considered what types of victimization should be included, making 
typological distinctions based on the types of victimizing events, or the level of societal concern for the 
victim.  The choice over who or what to include is inevitably controversial, and the approach of most 
recent scholars has been to err on the side of caution, suggesting that all persons who feel they have 
experienced anything unpleasant can be considered victims (Garkawe, 2004).  It is perhaps surprising 
that victimologists have not addressed an additional question, therefore.  When is it that people actually 
think of themselves as victims?
The accounts above are little more than heuristic devices intended to organize experiences of suffering 
into victimizations and non-victimizations without any empirical basis.  A more direct approach is to 
consider victimhood as a subjective state of mind in the victim.  From this perspective, the principal 
consideration (and most effective approach) in defining and studying victimhood is not to make 
priori assumptions about what constitutions victim experiences or base judgments on expressed social 
interest in the plight of particular individuals, but rather to investigate directly the response of 
individuals to putatively-victimizing events.  The question is not whether a particular kind of event 
merits the title of 'victimization' in the eyes of the law, medicine, or other spectators, but rather whether 
the individual themselves manifests a state one could consider ‘victimhood’.
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