The article under investigation is prepared by Wakefield, Lee, and Wildeman (2016). It focuses on the critical law-related issues faced by Americans and the way they affect family life. In this way, the authors claim that initially, improper drug regulation led to the increased number of drug offenders. As new policies and regulations are now developed, a lot of people face criminal justice and are sent to jail for their offenses. Of course, such alteration is expected to prevent further violations of law and make cities safer. However, it also has a negative influence on the representatives of the general public. More and more people are arrested, mass incarceration begins, and a lot of citizens become tightly connected with the imprisoned populations. In this way, the integrity of a family becomes negatively affected, which makes children more likely to turn into criminals as they grow up. This issue is very critical for minorities. Thus, in the USA, African Americans are incarcerated oftener than European Americans, and a stereotype of them representing a criminal world exists.
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Trying to convey these ideas, the authors (who are practicing professors and researchers in spheres of criminal justice, sociology, policy analysis, and management) cooperated and developed a paper that investigates the connection between crime and family life in the USA deeply. As a result, they managed to reveal interdisciplinary views on important social issues, such as mass imprisonment, inequality, drugs, and their negative influences on children and families. Being published in a peer-reviewed periodical, the article is mainly prepared for professionals who operate in the framework of political and social science. However, its language is simplified for it to be understood by the well-informed and intellectually curious individuals who focus on different spheres. The authors mainly resorted to an academic tone but included some literature approaches to make the text more attractive and interesting. Thus, this paper will argue that even though the article under analysis is authoritative and valid, the arguments developed by its authors are based not only on logical appeals that are vital for social science by also on pathos that affect readers’ emotions and does not belong to the unbiased scholarly world.
In their article, Wakefield, Lee, and Wildeman (2016) supported their argument using scholarly approaches. They revealed the information found in a “few large surveys”, share specific data found in authoritative sources “the imprisonment rate in the United States would still be very high—at least 300 per 100,000, and more likely 400 per 100,000”, and include terms “nonviolent offenders” (Wakefield, Lee, & Wildeman, 2016, pp.13-14). In addition to that, they often provide information regarding the things observed, such as “Megan Comfort describes one inmate ‘realigned’ in California” or “President Obama has called for the diversion of low-level drug offenders from prisons” (Wakefield, Lee, & Wildeman, 2016, p. 14). The article is full of logical appeals of such kind, which proves that it is based on an academic discourse at least partially. The text of the paper does not include analogies and figurative language, which reduced the risk of misunderstanding. In this way, the authors’ argument becomes more valuable from the scientist’s and professionals’ perspectives.
However, it is critical to mention that the article is written using the first person “we”, which is generally considered to be unacceptable for scholarly papers due to the implementation of personal biases. For instance, the authors say “although we know that many more people have contact with the criminal justice system today than historically, we have little conception of how this increase has affected (and will continue to affect) families” (Wakefield, Lee, & Wildeman, 2016, p. 10). In this sentence, the professionals share their own experiences and resort to ethical appeals to support their argument. Such an approach does not allow the readers to be 100% sure that this information is true to life and makes the statement rather weak. However, considering the authors’ experience in the field, the majority of the readers are likely to believe them by word. What is more, such construction makes the targeted audience feel connected to the narrators so that it seems to them that this claim is formulated mutually and is correct. Thus, this approach turns out to be rather effective.
Wakefield, Lee, and Wildeman (2016) also use rhetorical questions, such as “so where are we?” (p. 11). This tool does not support the argument. However, it allows the authors to attract readers’ attention to the next ideas. As the paper is rather long and it is presented as a text with no figures or images that could allow the audience to avoid routine actions, rhetorical question adds some colors to the writing. What is more, further information deals with specific years and numbers, so the readers are more likely to perceive them better after a little distraction from the general text.
All in all, it can be concluded that Wakefield, Lee, and Wildeman (2016) want to make their article available and easy to understand so that various populations can read it. The authors effectively combined academic and more colloquial approaches to share their viewpoints and strengthen the argument. It can be seen that this article blends specific data with narrators’ considerations so that the argument is supported and the paper is rather appealing.
Wakefield, S., Lee, H., & Wildeman, C. (2016). Tough on crime, tough on families? Criminal justice and family life in America. Annals of AAPSS, 655, 8-21. Web.