What Would Mary Douglas Do? A Commentary on Kahan et al., "Cultural Cognition and Public Policy: The Case of Outpatient Commitment Laws"

ArticleinLaw and Human Behavior 34(3):176-85 · June 2009with6 Reads
Impact Factor: 2.16 · DOI: 10.1007/s10979-009-9184-x · Source: PubMed


    Involuntary outpatient commitment is a highly controversial issue in mental health law. Strong supporters of outpatient commitment see it as a form of access to community-based mental health care and a less restrictive alternative to hospitalization for people with severe mental illness; vocal opponents see it as an instrument of social control and an unwarranted deprivation of individual liberty. Kahan and colleagues apply the theory of "cultural cognition" in an empirical study of how cultural worldviews influence support for outpatient commitment laws among the general public and shape perceptions of evidence for these laws' effectiveness. This article critiques Kahan et al. and offers an alternative perspective on the controversy, emphasizing particular social facts underlying stakeholders' positions on outpatient commitment laws.