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Physics

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There are many explanations for what punishment characterises. For Emile Durkheim, punishment was mainly an expression of social solidarity and not a form of crime control. Here, the offender attacks the social moral order by committing a crime and therefore, has to be punished, to show that this moral order still "works". Durkheim's theory suggests that punishment must be visible to everyone, and so expresses the outrage of all members of society against the challenge to their collective values. The form of punishment changes between mechanic (torture, execution) and organic (prison) solidarity because the values of society change but the idea behind punishing, the essence, stays the same - keeping the moral order intact not decreasing crime. Foucault has a different view of the role or function of punishment. For Foucault, punishment signifies political control. His theory compares the age of torture with the age of prison, concluding that the shift from the former to the latter is done due to changes in society and new strategies needed for the dominance of it by the rulers. Punishment for Foucault is a show of power first brutal and direct (torture), then organised and rational (prison). Punishment does not get more lenient because of humanitarian reasons but because the power relations in society change.

This essay will attempt to look at the above view in depth, to answer the question of what the characteristic of modern punishment is for Durkheim. The essay will then move onto Foucault and his views. I will deal with each view separately, as is not easy to contrast and compare their views because they have a very different outlook on society.

Sociological analysis of the role of punishment in modern society started with the question of what the role and limits of the power of government should be. Through development, sociology became a 'separate discipline'. (Ibid., p8) Here, Emile Durkheim saw that the only source of moral authority in modern society was the law. In terms of punishment, Durkheim saw the criminal law and the punishment system as a way for society to express its rules and values. This meant that moral boundaries were outlined and sustained through the assertion of penalties for crimes.

Durkheim sees the role of law and punishment to be important for the solidarity of society as a whole. (Ibid., p81) Here, society has an existence apart from the individuals, although the individuals are the content of society. Here, Durkheim argues that social rules and relationships influence the behaviour and thoughts of members of society, where the members behave in correspondence with the social rules, 'even when no one is watching' (p81). Therefore, these social rules, customs and traditions all form a culture, which gives different societies their unique characteristic.

In relation to punishment, Durkheim's approach considers the importance of punishment for this social solidarity. Durkheim 's theory of punishment is a part of a bigger theory based on law, in The Division of Labour in Society (1960) which then developed into 'Two Laws of Penal Evolution' (1984)

In The Division of Labour in Society, Durkheim analyses the differences between modern industrial society and forms of society which went before it, and his main concern is to locate the sources and type of social solidarity - the common feelings customs and traditions that make people recognise themselves as part of the same society - in the modern industrial state. In Durkheim's view, a pre-industrial society consists of individuals carrying out the same tasks, or shared life experiences, with the exception of a few i.e. priests and rulers). There will therefore be solidarity based on similarity in shared beliefs, understandings and tradition. (Hudson, 1996,P2) This, as Durkheim calls it, is mechanic solidarity, where the shared rules and customs will function to keep society alive and up and running.

In comparison, if and when the division of these tasks occur, the experience that people will hold in their society and its regards to the 'outside world' will change, resulting in a solidarity on 'interdependence' with members of society holding different attitudes and beliefs. Durkheim adds that in this society, it cannot be presumed that there is shared beliefs,

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