Betrayal and Betrayers - the Sociology of Treachery

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Betrayal has a deep fascination. It captures our imagination in part because we have all betrayed or been betrayed, in small or large ways. Despite this there has been very little serious work on the subject. Betrayal is a breach of trust, when informants share beyond an agreed upon boundary of relations, whether that boundary is a pair of friends or a nation.
Taking as a point of departure Simmel’s work of on secrets and secrecy, categories of betrayal are discussed, as well as conditions that influence the emotions or its intensity.
Sometimes the betrayer is seen as a hero and at other times a traitor; sometimes there are competing loyalties. In certain situations, it is difficult to avoid betrayal or the perception of betrayal.
Strategies of avoiding betrayal are discussed, ranging from not telling, to making sure one does not know about something in the first place.
Initially inspired by research on criminal informers in prison, the author has also drawn on her won research work from women shelters. Using biographies and autobiographies and a broad range of literature related to spies, World War II, the McCarthy era, and recent work on whistle-blower, a fascinating sociological theme is discovered.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


  • social forms, sociology, sociologi, betrayal, treachery
Original languageEnglish
Publisher[Publisher information missing]
ISBN (Print)0-88738-358-0
Publication statusPublished - 1991
Publication categoryResearch