Sociological perspectives on punishment

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  • Sociological Perspectives on Punishment
    • Durkheim
      • Argue the function of punishment is to uphold social solidarity & reinforce shared values
        • Through rituals of order society's shared values are reaffirmed & members feel sense of moral unity
      • Punishment is primarily expressive
        • Expresses society's emotions & moral outrage
      • Two types of Justice
        • Retributive Justice
          • Found in traditional society
          • There's little specialisation & solidarity between individuals is based on similarity to one another
            • Produces strong collective conscience
          • Punishment is severe & cruel & motivation is purely expressive
        • Restitutive Justice
          • Found in modern society
          • There's extensive specialisation & solidarity is based on resulting interdependence between individuals
            • Crime damages this interdependence so its necessary to repair this damage
          • Aims to restore things to how they were before the crime
          • Its motivation is instrumental but can still be expressive
    • Marxism
      • Function of punishment is to maintain the existing social order
      • As part of the 'repressive state apparatus' it is a means of defending ruling class property against lower classess
      • The form of punishment reflects the economic base of society
        • Rusche & Kirchheimer (1939) argue each type of economy has its own corresponding penal system
      • Argue under capitalism, imprisonment becomes dominant form of punishment
      • Melossi & Pavarini (1981) see imprisonment as reflecting capitalist relations to production
        • Capitalism puts a price on worker's time; so too prisoners 'do time' to 'pay' for their crime
        • Factory's & prison both have similar strict disciplinary style


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