Dynamics of Denunciation and the Limits of Scandals

07.12.2021 - 15:30 to 17:00
Location : 
Online via Zoom
Type of Event : 
AB A-Kolloquium
Prof. Thomas Grund
Lecturer affiliation: 
University College Dublin

The Zoom link for participation can be requested at colloquia-a [at] mzes.uni-mannheim.de.


Scandals around deviant affairs, such as corruption of economic or political elites, are expected to reveal truths. In this study, we argue that public inquiries into scandals uncover only a limited amount of knowledge because of the endogenous network dynamics of the underlying denunciation process. This article analyzes the testimonies given during a Canadian Royal Commission, referred to as the Gomery Commission, which unfolded throughout 2004-2005 and inquired into the inner workings of a corruption scandal within the federal government of Canada. Analyses are based on original data of relational denunciation events that emerged from the public testimonies of 172 witnesses. Multilevel discrete-time event history analyses are applied to demonstrate the temporal and relational embeddedment of denunciation. Witnesses in the Commission’s proceedings tend to reciprocate denunciations, denounce others who have been previously denounced, and punish those who reveal too much information. We conclude that the dynamics of denunciation maintain secrecy more effectively and consistently than they produce knowledge about deviant activities.