Demythelogizing Personal Loyalty to Superiors




Souryal, Sam S.

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Critical Criminology


This article examines the practice of personal loyalty to superiors, in general, and in criminal justice agencies, in particular. While practitioners are taught that their primarily loyalty is to the United States Constitution, State laws, departmental rules and regulations, they are organizationally taught that personal loyalty to superiors is paramount if they wanted their career to continue and prosper. As a result many practitioners are rightfully confused (even exhibiting paranoia) over who or what to be primarily loyal to, and at what price or risk. This unwarranted fear has been behind numerous acts of malfeasance and misfeasance; it can lower the workers’ morale, confuses the practitioners, and destabilizes the agency’s equilibrium. This article examines three types of workplace loyalties, and suggests, as an attempt toward reform, the use of a more sensible duty-based paradigm. Such a paradigm can be based on four practical propositions: (1) seriously examining why personal loyalty to superiors is deemed essential, if at all, especially since it is never mentioned in the agency’s rules and regulations; (2) taking the fear out of the language of “loyalty-disloyalty” by perhaps replacing the term with more benign and rather measurable terms such as “performance and collaboration;” (3) strengthening dutiful supervision; and (4) maximizing professional accountability.


Authors draft of an article later published in Critical Criminology Volume 19 Issue 2.


loyalty, ambivalence of loyalty, personal loyalty


Souryal, S.S. Demythelogizing Personal Loyalty to Superiors. Crit Crim 19, 119 (2011).