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SOSC 2350 Final: Essay #3

3 Pages

Social Science
Course Code
SOSC 2350
Dena Demos

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Essay 3: Michel Foucault writes on 18th century reform: And `reform, in the strict sense, as it was formulated in the theories of law or as it was outlined in the various projects, was the political or philosophical resumption of this strategy, with its primary objectives: to make of the punishment and repression of illegalities a regular function, coextensive with society; not to punish less, but to punish better; to punish with an attenuated severity perhaps, but in order to punish with more universality and necessity; to insert the power to punish more deeply into the social body (Foucault, p. 82). Engage with Foucaults claim by drawing on the Austin Sarat reading in which one of his research subjects states, law is all over. Offer evidence from cases and examples raised in the course. In the article by Austin Sarat, Law Is All Over, he states that legal consciousness of the welfare poor is defined as a consciousness of power and domination, in which the keynote is enclosure and dependency, and a consciousness of resistance, in which welfare recipients assert themselves and demand recognition of their personal identities and their human needs. Michael Foucaults quotes is stating that the punishment for crimes does not exist solely within juridical powers but that it also coexists within societal functions. Through giving the social body more power to regulate behaviour, punishment becomes more severe and widespread. In contemporary society, people are pressured to regulate their own behaviour because they are always being scrutinized by their peers and by strangers. As a result, the law exists in all places. In the article by Sarat, he examines how the welfare poor interacts with the law. Sarat clarifies that the welfare poor is not a homogenous group whose legal consciousness and relationship to power are uniform, yet he draws several conclusions from his primary research with welfare recipients. Throughout his work, Sarat quotes Spencer, a man seeking general relief because he stopped receiving welfare cheques. Spencer claims that the law and rules are all over, many of which he does not know or cannot understand. Spencer and others like him are not invited to participate in the interpretation or given an explication of welfare laws, nor in the construction of the legal practices. They are caught inside the laws rules, while being excluded from its interpretive community. The welfare poor are surrounded by legal rules and by the officials and institutions, which claim authority to say what the law is. According to Sarat, many of the individuals he interviewed believed that the relationship between legal services and the welfare bureaucracy characterises a legal system where its elements are tightly interconnected and political influence is pervasive. Few of the recipients think that the decisions made by their lawyers are neutral but lawyers act as an additional mode of regulating behaviour. Casey, another recipient, claims that there is no escaping the law and the politics of the law, even lawyers and judges are trapped within the political game. Many welfare recipients claim that they are treated differently based off their race and socio economic background and that a rich white male would receive a lighter sentence for a crime than a poor Puerto Rican. The interview recipients view these injustices as built into the very fabric of the law. They accept without condoning the unfairness of the system in which they find themselves and seek ways of working within and around that unfairness. The welfare poor are not paralyzed
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