The Scapegoat is part of human life, although the actual word only came into existence in the 1500’s when William Tyndale coined the phrase to describe his own predicament. He had dared to suggest that he knew more than the scholars of his time. Of course he was burnt at the stake for his efforts! The concept of a Scapegoat goes far further back in the annals of time, there are mentions of the concept in the bible, the book of Leviticus discusses it. In fact you can even go back to the ancient Greeks and find the process alive and well very far back in time.

Scapegoats are an intrinsic component of our lives. As Dr. Wilcox points out the concept of Scapegoating does seem to be one that is an inherent part of our culture. The scapegoat permits family’s or even entire cultures a way to vent their anger at what are often their own failures, at some other individual or sub group.

One interesting observation made in Scapegoat: Targeted For Blame is that the scapegoat quite often brings it upon himself through non conformity. By appearing slightly different either in dress or behavior he becomes a natural target.

As Dr. Wilcox points out scapegoating can occur on horrific levels. The Jewish people being among the best well known. As the plague ravished France the French used the Jews as scapegoats for its spread, unknown numbers of Jews were slaughtered in cold blood. Adolf Hitler used a similar tactic in the prelude to the second world war, the Jews were targeted as the cause for almost every woe in Germany. Economic and social problems were laid firmly on their doorstep.

I will be the first to say that Scapegoat: Targeted For Blame is not an easy book to read. It is a well researched and scholarly exploration of the phenomenon. I suspect that his target audience are fellow researchers and members of the academic world. It is however well worth the effort, it gives a great insight into one of the darker parts of humanity. Maybe if we all understood ourselves a little better we would treat our fellow man differently.

One thing that caught my eye on the back cover is the category that Dr. Wilcox puts this book under, ‘Business & Economics / Management’. At first sight these seem an odd choice, I would have picked Psychology, or Sociology. However the more I thought about it, the more I understood his rationale.  Scapegoat: Targeted For Blame is worldwide and far ranging in scope. However the lessons learned are valuable ones that could easily be transposed into the business world.

Looking back at my career in Corporate America I can not even count the number of times Scapegoating was used to avoid facing the real truth. Deadlines were missed, but inevitably the problem was someone else’s. The computer department missed deadlines because of the ineptitude of the user community. Meanwhile the user community failed to meet sales targets because of the ineptitude of the computer department. In this scenario both groups are scapegoats for each other. Upper management rather than try to reconcile the differences would instead randomly dish out punishment to whoever they perceived as losing ‘the battle of the water cooler.

In hindsight this was a ridiculous method of handling multi million dollar projects, but this management style was the norm in almost every large corporation that I had dealings with. Fixing a problem was always secondary to affixing blame!

You can order your copy of Scapegoat: Targeted For Blame by using the Amazon link above.

Simon Barrett

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