Cameron Day
Cameron Day BA, Sociology & Public Policy, University of Chicago Office: Phone: Email Interests:

Crime and Deviance, Social Control, Sexuality, Institutions, Culture, Qualitative Methodology

Doctoral Student (2018)

Dissertation Title: The Symbolic and The Law: The Emotional Politics of Child Murder

Committee: Kristen Schilt (chair), Julian Go, Cayce Hughes (Colorado College)

My dissertation investigates the political function of emotion. I examine incidents which evoke a strong emotional response and sensational media coverage: the killing of children by adult strangers. How do we collectively respond in the aftermath of these horrifying events? I take two sets of political responses to child killing as cases for my investigation. First, the adoption of the post-conviction psychiatric civil commitment of sex offenders in many states in the 1990s. Second, the more recent efforts to adopt Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs), which are meant to prevent people experiencing mental health crises from accessing firearms in order to prevent mass shootings. Civil commitment and ERPOs are both models developed in the immediate aftermath of horrifying incidents of child murder by strangers. I draw upon sociological theories of deviance and moral panic, especially as articulated by Stuart Hall and other Birmingham School sociologists, in order to analyze these social and state responses to violence and the symbol of the child-killing madman. I argue that there is an emotional politics inherent in mass media which amplifies sensational violence. The emotional politics of child murder reveals the way mass media society restructures political incentives by rewarding ideological narratives responding emotionally and symbolically to sensational events. I argue that the emotional politics of mass media society diverges significantly from liberal-democratic ideals of rational, deliberative democracy.

Recent Research / Recent Publications

Recent Publications

Marwell, N. & Day, C. (2022). Emerging Directions in the Data-Society Interface. Report published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Tentner, A.R., Spellman, A., Paulson, A., Day, C., Sadler, T., Coffman, R. & Pollack, H.A. (2019). “Identifying Chicago’s High Users of Police-Involved Emergency Services.” American Journal of Public Health 109(4), 607-613.