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Sociology of Law and Punishment - Essay Example

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Over the course of the last decade or so, it has become increasingly apparent that modern penalty, especially in the west, is witnessing a more 'civilised process' than in the era gone by. This points to a more critical view that there is a possibility of Elias' 'civilising process' influence on less brutal practices of punishment in Western societies today…
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Sociology of Law and Punishment
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Download file to see previous pages Norbert Elias suggests that civilisation transform human habitus so that violence in all forms is gradually subjected to greater and more sophisticated forms of management and control. 'Decivilisation' according to him, encompasses processes which produce an increase in violence and a breakdown in the stability and consistency of social relations. What remains unexplored is the extent to which attempts to bring about civilisation, have revolved around essentially violent policies and practices (Robert van Krieken, Abstract, The British Journal of Sociology, Volume 50 Issue 2).
Nils Christie, in Crime Control as Industry, suggests that the spiralling prison populations, particularly in the United States, represent a move towards gulags western style, in much the same way that Zygmunt Bauman saw modernity itself as creating the possibility for the Holocaust. For Christie the current 'gulagisation' of the West is not an aberration of modern society, but something that occurs naturally within it. Pratt's book suggests that man may be moving into an area of penal control that takes one beyond the gulag. The gulag it says may not be a sufficient modality of punishment to absorb the punitive sentiments of modern societies. What we find is the supplementation of modern penal sanctions by new forms of legal and extra legal punishments. For Christie, there is hope, that at some point, good sense of the ordinary people will prevail and counter the trends that the forces of modernity made possible. It is argued that there is no goodness to human values and public sentiment: unleashing them may only add to the spiral of penal control (Beyond gulags western style A reconsideration of Nils Christie's crime control as industry, Abstract, Pratt. J).
2.0 Introspection
Elias offers a particular paradigm for sociological thought which opposes both the structural-functionalist and methodological-individualist tendencies in sociology. The concept that he developed hoped to severe and expose many of the central dilemmas in sociology, especially the opponents of action and structure, individualism and society.
Elias' 'Civilising Process' is contentious, and overlooked with suspicion. Elias deviates from the more fashionable trends in sociology to dig deep into retrospection and seek the unknown. His writing has been a source of ideas and has appealed the senses of those who crave for the unknown. Commentators have veered between two theological pointers; an uncompromising acceptance or ungenerous rejection. His work frequently is a contradiction between supposedly admiring 'followers' and critics. To appreciate Elias, one needs to steer a path between the lines.
His handling of human issues; emotions, attitudes towards the body, sexuality, socialisation, and so on, reflected a balanced and systematic approach. His analysis of the human mind is of significant relevance in the context of his larger-scale processes in State formation, urbanisation and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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