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02a. Emile Durkheim on Crime and Punishment

02a. Emile Durkheim on Crime and Punishment

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Published by Seamus Breathnach
SCRIBD is an extension of www.Irish-criminology.com (Cursai Coireolaiochta Na h-Eireann) Created By Seamus Breathnach

2. History/ Anthology
Studies in Irish Criminology: Book One

2.a.Emile Durkheim On Crime And Punishment (An Exegesis)

Students do not generally find Emile Durkheim easy. So, why begin with him? Aren’t there other criminologists that are less abastruse that one could begin with? Of course there are many criminologists less difficult than Durkheim, but few of them dig as deeply, travel as far, or aim at satisf
SCRIBD is an extension of www.Irish-criminology.com (Cursai Coireolaiochta Na h-Eireann) Created By Seamus Breathnach

2. History/ Anthology
Studies in Irish Criminology: Book One

2.a.Emile Durkheim On Crime And Punishment (An Exegesis)

Students do not generally find Emile Durkheim easy. So, why begin with him? Aren’t there other criminologists that are less abastruse that one could begin with? Of course there are many criminologists less difficult than Durkheim, but few of them dig as deeply, travel as far, or aim at satisf

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Published by: Seamus Breathnach on May 22, 2011
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11/07/2012

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Irishcriminology.com(Cursai Coireolaiochta Na h-Eireann)Created BySeamus Breathnach
2. History/ Anthology
Studies in Irish Criminology:Book One
2.a.Emile Durkheim On Crime And Punish-ment (An Exegesis)
 
Students do not generally find Emile Durkheim easy. So, why begin with him? Aren’t there othercriminologists that are less abastruse that one could begin with?Of course there are many criminologists less difficult than Durkheim, but few of them dig asdeeply, travel as far, or aim at satisfying so thoroughly. Later on, we shall eat these words and,indeed, find grave fault with Durkheim; but for the moment he does not have to be understood
inToto
. But the tone he sets and the line he takes are aspects with which we might successfully ac-quainting ourselves.To get over initial difficulties, however, let us begin by addressing seemingly simple questions. What is crime? What do we mean by punishment? And what is the link between crime and pun-ishment? If we ask these questions of Emile Durkheim, he will reply some as follows.
Crime is something that offends every normal individual’s strong and defined sentiments
.Would you agree with this simple definition of crime in general?Secondly, what about punishment? What does Durkheim say Punishment is?
Punishment is a passionate social reaction, of graduated intensity
.The passionate reaction is aimed at the criminal. Nothing could be apparently simpler. But,again, do you agree with this formulation?Finally, is there a link between crime and punishment so defined?According to Durkheim, there is. Crime and punishment are linked through what he called oursocial or ‘ collective conscience’ – and it is this ‘conscience collective’ that makes crime inten-sively offensive to us and it also makes punishment society’s social resolution to crime. Wouldyou agree?None of these ideas (except, perhaps, the last) can be thought of in any respect as difficult to un-derstand. Like so many others, you might want to hear more about this‘ collective conscience’. It is hardly the kind of concept you expect social scientists to use. Andyet, the notion is not too removed from the Christian conscience, and even less so from theCatholic viewpoint, according to which we are all to be judged on the day of ‘general judgment.’This concept of the ‘day of general judgment’, implies a general conscience and is arguably notthat far removed from Durkheim`s earlier notion of the‘ collective conscience.’
 
On this page, we elaborate on Durkheim`s response to the above questions. But first of all weintroduce the work
 Emile Durkheim On Crime and Punishment 
, list some abbreviations thatmight prove useful, as well as the contents of the text.INTRODUCTIONBy their very nature theories of crime and punishment presuppose the more primary theoreticalformulations both of evolution and society, the one answering the theoretical time requirement,the other the spacial requirement, and each symbiotically related to the other in an integral theoryof social evolution. Into such an overall perspective sink Durkheim`s theories of crime and pun-ishment.It is the intention of this essay to explicate these theories without, it is hoped, paying too muchattention to extra- criminological or penological concerns at their expense. In his theory of evolu-tion, for example, Durkheim felt the necessity to differentiate himself, from Comte and Spencer;in his social theory from theorists like Rousseau, J. Stuart Mill, Hobbes, Machiavelli; in his the-ory of crime from Lombroso, Tarde, Garofalo and the Italian School; and in his theory of pun-ishment (as in his ‘theory’ of the State) from Kant and the Utilitarians. In anthropology, philoso-phy, religion, political economy, morality and pedagogy similar differentiations are made. Thereis, therefore, in a work of this modest nature, an obvious need to choose not just what is pertinentto Durkheim`s theories of crime and punishment, but, also, what is important.Since the aim of the essay is an expositional account of these theories, the more popular interestin `anomie` and ‘suicide’ are not formally dealt with. Because of this overriding perspective andthe lack of space available, criticism has practically been reduced to a hurried sixth chapter. Thislatter constraint has also prohibited recourse to original French texts. Consequently, there is atotal reliance on popular translations of Durkheim`s major works - a reliance which, if we are toaccept the advice of the erudite, must necessarily cast some doubt on the interpretation whichthese pages purport to ascribe to Durkheim`s theories of crime and punishment. Steven Lukeshas found serious fault with these translations, particularly the two major texts upon which thisessay has heavily relied, viz. ‘The Division of Labour’ and ‘The Rules. ` (Cf. Lukes, n. 589). Inview of such limitations one can do no more than reiterate Lukes. ‘We urgently need a standardEnglish edition of Durkheim`s works” (Ibid).The following abbreviations should be familiarized by the reader, lest their repeatedappearance irritates him unduly. I am not at all convinced that the use of theseabbreviations benefits either the reader or the writer one whit - but it seemed like agood idea at the time.

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