2. Policy implications
3. Limitations of Durkheim’s theory
4. Durkheim’s legacy: Contemporary anomie theories
1. Recap: Durkheim
5. Sociological positivism— attempted to scientifically explain crime in society
6. Structural determinism: division of labour---social structures determine the
character of a society and determines the type of social solidary. Society would
evolve if there was a division of labour. It makes society move forward
7. Social evolution: legal tools and social solidarity (mechanical vs. organic vs.
contractual) –when society evolves into industrial society, it leads to legal tools to
punish criminals. Mechanical society= primitive society, no divisions. Organic=
divisions of labour
8. Crime is an act that offends against the collective conscience of society –totality
of beliefs that were held by the average law abiding members in society. 1.
Cognitive awareness 2. Moral conscience. Because crime wounds the collective
conscience, we avenge/cure that wound with punishment.
9. Crime is a normal and necessary event in society— we don’t want to completely
illuminate it. We want crime because crime gives us the universal response there
are 4 reasons: it educates society about its moral boundaries, it unites us as a
group against the common enemy (criminal) and allows us to reduce internal
tensions in society by projecting them onto the criminal group, and lastly, it is
what helps us adapt and evolve as a society because crime allows society to
revise its moral boundaries
10.Durkheim vs. Beccaria
1. Crime is not always defined on utilitarian grounds: e.g., victimless,
consensual crimes (becarrias theory does not explain these)
2. Policy implications 1. Durkheim conceives of punishment as a penal ritual or ceremony—criminal justice
includes rituals and these rituals are the formalized embodiment of the collective
conscience. Like becarria, he argues that rituals should be public because they need to
inform society about the moral boundaries. Punishment rituals can include the execution
of punishment, and the courtroom trial. However, the execution of punishment is a
private affair. Prison is not open to the public. in our society, we do vicariously witness
punishment through news media. In the Katz reading online, he suggests that people
don’t read the news only to read about the facts, they want to engage in a daily moral
workout. So the meaning of crime to readers is not factual, but moral. Like Durkheim,
katz argues that the news functions to articulate our normative expectations. In
particular, the news is a collective ritualistic experience. When we all read the
newspaper we are all sharing the same experience. Not all news stories about crime
make it into then newspaper, the stories that newsworthy are stories that are moral
stories and highlight moral problematics, and the ne shy they are newsworthy is
because it informs us about societal moral boundaries.
A) news media coverage of crime (cf. Katz)
People do not read crime news stories for their factual content, but for
their moral content. Reading crimes news serves as a daily moral workout.
— We don’t have a moral perspective without any moral effort. We need to
put daily amounts of work
Emotional, visceral reaction to crime news
B) courtroom trial—the judge is the person who gives formal expression to the
feelings of the community. When the judge does this, these feelings are
legitimated. Judges are authorized to speak on behalf of the Canadian state.
During sentencing, judges give formal expression to the feelings of society
Punishment is symbolic: it functions as moral denunciation or
condemnation of acts that cross moral boundaries— it marks what we
think as right and wrong. When judges sentence, they are making a moral
Canada’s sentencing purposes (s. 718)
The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute, along with crime prevention
initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe
society by imposing just sanctions that have one or more of the following objectives:
judges rely on many of the theories we have learned. (a) to denounce unlawful conduct; (Durkheim’s theory)
(b) to deter the offender and other persons from committing offences;
(c) to separate offenders from society, where necessary; (Lombroso)
(d) to assist in rehabilitating offenders; (Lombroso, sick offenders get rehab)
(e) to provide reparations for harm done to victims or to the community
2. The community and the collective conscience—since Canadians are multicultural, we
have connections with our conscience.
crimes against public morality
E.g. Obscenity law in Canada—refers to representations or publications, images,
s. 163(8): For the purposes of this Act, any publication a dominant characteristic of
which is the undue exploitation of sex, or of sex and any one or more of the following
subjects, namely crime, horror, cruelty and violence, shall be deemed to be obscene.
‘Undue exploitation of sex’
Butler test (R v. Butler, SCC, 1992): e.g. pornography
Explicit sex with violence (if you are watching porn with violence, this is
condemned as obscene)
Explicit sex without violence (Not obscene)
Explicit sex without violence but which subjects people to treatment that is
degrading or dehumanizing
‘substantial risk of harm’ (physical and attitudinal harm) when courts
ask if that pornographic representation effects women, it is
Community standards of tolerance test: what would Canadians not tolerate other
Canadians being exposed to –the more harm inferred by community, the less likely that representation of pornography for example will be tolerated. The test is
not concerned about hat Canadians will be tolerated to, but what Canadians
would not tolerate other Canadians to see. Therefore, it is not based on your
personal preferences or beliefs, instead it is based on the collective conscience.
Specific community standards? –even though we are multicultural with different
communities, we don’t have different community standards
E.g., Remington’s strip bar—they wanted to promote people to come to this gay
strip club. On sperm attack Mondays, police would rade. In court, the defence
lawyer said that they were adult gay men, and they know what they are getting
into. So they are not shocked by this performance, therefore it is not indecency.
So we should understand what the gay community would tolerate.
Obscenity law used in indecency cases
Community = gay male community?
E.g., 2Live Crew album ‘As nasty as they wanna be’ –uncensored version. A
musicologist in court said the music is not obscene. And its not obscene because
the explicit lyrics are examples of the exaggerated language that is used to
explain life in the inner city ghetto by African Americans. The musicologist said
we are not supposed to take these lyrics literally. We should look at the
community standard of African Americans. The judge does not agree, we should
look at the standard national Canadian community.
Community = African-American community?
Community always refe