Sociology synopsis - To what degree is torture considered cruel and unnatural? - Sociology Essay Example

Within Foucault’s article we see the horrific ways in which Damien’s was punished and tortured for the killing of the king in 1757, giving the gruesome details of his torture Foucault is showing us the changes in which punishment and discipline has changed over the past 250 years - Sociology synopsis - To what degree is torture considered cruel and unnatural? introduction. Regardless of what a person does for a crime no one has the right to treat one of Gods creatures in such a cruel and vicious manner. Damien’s case was and still is a popular case that is studied in many areas but to what degree is torture considered cruel and unnatural?

Who has the right to say no! After viewing Damien’s account of the public ways in which punishment is dished out we get an example of a typical daily routine for a prisoner in the early 19th century. The “police” or the high courts may see themselves as having the last and final word but under no circumstances can someone have the so called “right” to treat the human body in such a manner just to prove a point. Public executions were a big thing back in the 16th to late 19th century. They were there for personal amusement and game.


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They were there to make a standpoint as to what happens if certain crimes were committed or if you killed someone. Throughout the history of public executions we see a pattern that occurred regularly and that continues today. The rich were spared torture and instead got beheaded to spare the family shame. When all torture was concluded, the criminals were just beheaded, for this was a movement away from the “body” of the criminal suffering and the repenting of the “soul” of the criminal instead.

No one should ever have to go through such torture just because a crime they have committed. I am not saying that I don’t agree with the crimes that were committed or whom they were committed by but indeed people do have to be punished, they just can’t get off with a slap on the wrists; but who is to say or who has the right to say when one has been tortured enough? Some say today we just try and ignore the fact that it is going on behind closed doors and that no one wants to talk about it.

The degrees of torture that the human body has gone through when reading the article was absolutely painful for me to even read. Common sense would tell a person that after a body has been removed all its flesh, then have its hands in which the crimes were committed burnt and cut off… have the body quartered to then burn after; absolutely does constitute torture and its absolutely a different kind of torture that goes on today. In our society, such practices would be considered uncivil or cruelty to man and human nature.

One would not get away with such practices. Continuing on through the article we see various situations on which people have put on trial for committing a crime yet not been of sane mind. In the 1810 code of Article 64 tells that if they are not tried and found guilty what should be done to them, should they be let back into society. This article however does not concern responsibility. When judging, the judge therefore needs to look at other factors and not just the crime itself and that punishment of all kinds are enforced because we wish to find a cure.

According to Foucault, the penal system as a whole is a form of power relations giving judges the right to judge and give the power to dicatate what is wrong and what is right. But in short this power is exercised rather than possessed. He says that punishment should not be a form of power over the criminal, which would mean that the criminal in a position of victimisation. But instead use the technology of power to understand why he commits the crime. What constitutes torture as being the final say or how mush torture is?

Punishment is not just for a ‘sentence’ but indeed for its “very materiality as an instrument and vector of power; it is this whole technology of the ‘soul’ … ” Therefore it is not the subject of knowledge that produces the knowledgeable person but the power knowledge relations the way in which this knowledge comes to be, through experience that determines knowledge. Pierre Bourdieu’s ‘Distinction’ is how he thought society is stratified or more or less how it should be. The dominant class is an autonomous space whose structure is defined by the distribution of economic and cultural capital among its members.

There are fractions within each class that correspond to different lifestyles through habitus. The habitus is a system of choices that are influenced by inherited asset structures. Furthermore, different sets of preferences come from systems of dispositions and the social conditions of production, which create relationships between them. He tells us that cultural goods and the way we understand culture depends on other factors not just the actual form of culture whether it be art, drama, or literature.

According to Bourdieu we are conditioned by society, ex, family upbringing and status and our education to how preferences are closely linked to educational levels and secondly to social origin. Bourdieu believes that in culture there is also a developed class system with its title of nobility, which have been there from as late as the 17th century. Bourdieu discusses taste, particularly why the predilection for cultural practices increases with a decrease in economic means. He establishes that the volume of capital constitutes the principle division of practices and preferences.

He explains that the cultural practices increase when economic capital decreases because fewer means try to get the maximum culture for their money. On the other hand, the rich must always have the best, the most classic and the most widely known. Bourdieu uses teachers as representatives of those with an interest in high culture and low economic means and industrial/ commercial employers for those who would go for run of the mill culture that’s really expensive. These rich employer types like to appropriate art for the sake of having it.

When one appropriates a work of art in this manner, he asserts himself as the exclusive owner of the object and the taste for that object. He negates all those unworthy of appropriating that object. The appropriation of art is a symbol of status for the rich because it shows ogg that they have the time to waste such frivolities or would go to any expense to own such a beautiful work of art. On the other hand, the dominated class must appropriate systematically, be it through knowledge of art, a cheap reprint, etc.

Often they recreate what is thought of as art for their community; ie the intellectuals and the artists. They turn pop culture artefacts such as grafitti and cartoons into distinguished works of culture. According to Bourdieu’s chapter on social and symbolic space, he explains that society is split into different classes. Each class is differentiated by its own habitus and he did this by studying social space- the differing factors attributed to each class. Each cannot be studied by comparing societies in other countries or across time periods.

One way to compare is by hobbies and food habits but they change through time and across country divides so again cannot be used to compare in that way. He uses the example of boxing in France in the 19th century was a noble but filtered down over time to the masses. Showing that comparison is possible only from system to system. Seemingly just as the dominated classes oppose each other, fractions within the dominant classes oppose each other as well. Each competing group tries to impose the legitimate principle of domination.

The dominant classes can only ensure its perpetuation if it can overcome crises that arise from factions competing to impose the dominant principle. Each one within the dominant class has its own worldviews and way of living and mode fo living. The fractions have different interests, careers, and even habitus. All which are issues of taste. Their conflicts represent attempts to impose the dominant principle of domination as well as secure the conversion rate for the type of capital, which each group id best provided.

Currently, there are still remaining tensions between the old bourgeoisie and the new. Today’s credit economy best accommodates the new bourgeoisie, who consume greatly and are the vendors of symbolic goods and services such as cinema and fashion. Whereas the old bourgeoisie represents formality and conservatism, the new one is relaxed, highly educated and active. Bourdieu often uses a graphical representation of the statistical correlation between lifestyle practices and objective life-chances. He uses this term social space to refer to this schematic representation.

Social space,” writes Bourdieu, “is constructed in such a way that agents or groups are distributed in it according to their position in statistical distributions based on the two principles of differentiation which, in the most advanced societies, such as the United States, Japan or France, are undoubtedly the most efficient: economic capital and cultural capital. ” On one hand, social agents closest in the amount of overall capital they possess are closest in social space, that is, closest in the probability of life chances, of sharing comparable lifestyles and tastes and of associating with one another.

On the other hand, the composition of capital, or the relative importance of cultural and economic capital, connects or separates social agents. “The differences stemming from the total volume of capital almost always conceal, both from common awareness and also from ‘scientific’ knowledge, the secondary differences which, within each of the classes defined by overall volume of capital, separate class fractions, defined by different asset structures, i. e. , different distributions of their total capital among the different kinds of capital.

Taking into account the structure of cultural and economic assets allows a more precise understanding of class and the effects of distribution of capital. Thus, class conflict occurs not merely between bourgeoisie, petit bourgeoisie and proletariat, but also between class fractions in each, divided according to differing logics of capital accumulation and class trajectory. So in conclusion social classes described by Marx do not exist but social space does exist, this is differences between people which make a form of class stratification which differentiates people and segregates them into groups.

What is Sociology? Within the article there lied many problems within our traditional roles about the way we think about society. Sense of separation was one of them. For it is expressed through various idioms and concepts for the individual and the environment for which he lives in. But do ‘interdependent human beings’ pieced by manner form these traditional manners of forming these concepts? Society is a thing in which we sociologists investigate. That is what seems to be the core of the problem; to fully understand it.

Social structures, said to be understood as objects above and over the individual ego. That is how sociologists see society. Humans must be aware of oneself as a human being among other human beings. We are all networks of individuals. Trying to think of the problem in a scientific matter won’t help the problem either. One must try and conceptualise it as a social force yet as soon ‘ as we try to proceed from here we find that the social apparatus for thinking and speaking places at out disposal only either models if a naively egocentric or magic mythical kind, or else models from natural science. ‘

The trend towards ‘scientification’ of modes of thinking and speaking about what we now know would be inanimate. Many verbal and conceptual structures derived from the uncovering of physical and chemical structures have passed into the everyday world in which we currently exist. The compelling forces, which seem to be the natural forces are the social developments of speech and thought seem to have been somewhat neglected as a subject for sociological research. One may discard many traditional models of knowledge and thought and over the years develop in their place other instruments for speaking and thinking .

We are constantly trying to free stock of language and knowledge that is used to extend our understanding of human networks and social figures. One tries to substitute for more autonomous models for them. Yet any attempt is destined for failure. When one is entering a new phase/ area of experience one is simply faced with a lack of concepts appropriate to te types of forces and relationships encountered there. There is an underlying danger that exists within the manner in which research people under the pressure of their findings use findings and technological inventions over the distribution of power chances of all kinds.

There is however, a discrepancy between on the one hand, our relatively great ability to overcome appropriately and realistically the problems that are caused by extra human natural events. ‘The peculiar sterility of many analyses of ideologies largely stems from the tendency to treat them as basically rational structures of ideas coinciding with actual group interests. Their burden of affect and fantasy, their egocentric or ethnocentric lack of reality are overlooked for they are assumed to be merely a calculated camouflage for a highly rational core.

The introduction of technology plays an important role where here advances, such as the nuclear bomb, are blamed instead of the scientists to invent them, or indeed the people who pay the scientists. The danger according to Elias is not in the progress but in struggles of power, which fuel these inventions. Power being an important aspect of social relations, in the past people in power would blame people with less power for faults which they could not understand the middle ages when Jews were blamed for outbreaks of diseases and plagues.

Therefore Elias is showing us what sociologists study and the problem that they incur. That when considering sociological problems and remember that we ourselves are the least studied forms. Seminar 4 According to the article written by Thompson, there has been a long waiting process for the publication of Habrenas’s work on his path breaking study on the emergence and transformation of the bourgeois public sphere in Europe. His earlier works sparked off lively debate and issues that were raised within it were neglected.

Some say that ‘Habernas and the Public Sphere’ has a lot of repetition to read from cover to cover and that to some extent the outcome is is retainable. Thirty years has gone by since its first publication and it still has not lost its capacity to stimulate critical reflection. How work may not have changed but his views have in certain aspects of is areas. He abandoned themes that were set thirty years before; instead he reassessed their significance in the light of recent research.

Habernas’ ‘Structural Transformation’ reflection on the nature of public life and the ways it has changed in the course of historical development of the West. In it lies a distinction between the public and private sphere. Within the public life lies the market life and the assemblies where citizens came together to discuss issues of the days. Within the public sphere was an open field of debate in which those individuals were entitled to the status of citizens that could interact with each other as equals.

The emergence of the bourgeois public sphere was facilitated by two other developments, which play a key role in the work of Habermas’ work. There was the development of the periodical press and the rise of a variety of new centres for social outings such as the rise of coffee houses where politicians and such could meet and feel relaxed in an atmosphere. The periodicals swept through Europe and included essays of political commentary and satire, which then became an integral part of the atmosphere for discussion.

When the bourgeois sphere declined this forum dies and the periodical pres s became part of a range of media institutions, which were designed as large-scale commercial concerns. Here the battle of publicity vs. public opinions. Now we have, Habernas says, a “quasi feudal type of society. Where the majority of the population is excluded from the decision making process. Here Thompson says that “critical principle of publicity is the core concept of a theory of democracy and of democratic will formation which, at the time of writing Structural Habernas was just beginning to formulate.

Using the example that the media campaigns for presidential and general elections in the age of TV are such a persuasive feature nowadays. The decline of the bourgeois public sphere was the result of overlapping trends. There was the separation of state and society which had created an institutional space for the public sphere began to gradually break down. As things started to break down, states started to take on an increasingly interest for managing the welfare of citizens. The salons and coffee houses declined in significance and the periodical press became a range of media institutions .

Habernas wanted to argue that the bourgeois pubic sphere embodied certain ideas and principles which retain their relevance. Habernas’ work offers an historical narrative of the changing forms of public life which in many ways is quite compelling. It combines a perceptive historical account for the political culture of early modern Europe with a sharp critical perspective on the degradation of public life in our societies today. Habernas’ arguments are both in historical and general terms; so which arguments hold up the most.

In the preface of ‘Structure to Transformation’ Habernas explained his account work to be limited to the ‘liberal model of the bourgeois public sphere’ and that he would leave aside that ‘variant of the liberal model; eventually became the plebeian public sphere. To some it was clear that this schematic way of characterizing popular social and political movements was not satisfactory. It was clear to Habernas that this model was regarded as an idealization of actual historical processes; although the bourgeois public sphere was based on the principle of universal access.

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