Kangaroos and contraband thoughts on Durkheim, morality, criminality and such

 

I HAVE (PAST TENSE) BANNED MYSELF FROM READING ANYMORE DURKHEIM UNTIL MARCH BUT I HAD A THOUGHT WHILE RUNNING ABOUT DURKHEIM, MORALITY & CRIMINALITY ETC. SO I’M JUST GOING TO QUICKLY SAY IT OUT ALOUD HERE OK;

 

 

WITH REFERENCE TO CHAPTER TWO IN ‘THE DIVISION OF LABOUR IN SOCIETY’ IN WHICH DURKHEIM IS AT PAINS TO SHOW HOW & WHY THERE EXISTS A DISPARITY BETWEEN;

‘CRIMES’ AS PER ‘IMMORALITY’ AS THEY AFFRONT THE ‘COLLECTIVE CONSCIENCE’ (I.E. SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS ABOUT WHAT IS RIGHT & WRONG IN A MORAL AFFECTIVE SENSE) – WHICH TYPICALLY ELICIT REPARATORY ACTION OR PUNISHMENT FROM PEOPLE WHO COMPRISE THAT COLLECTIVE, AMONG WHOM AUTHORITY/POWER IS DIFFUSED OR DISTRIBUTED, AND;

‘CRIMES’ AS PER ‘ILLEGALITY’[1] AS THEY AFFRONT’ THE ‘SOCIAL CONSCIENCE’ (I.E. WHAT IS RIGHT AND WRONG ACCORDING TO RULES, REGULATIONS & LAWS ETC) – WHICH TYPICALLY ELICIT REPARATORY ACTION OR PUNISHMENT FROM CENTRALISED, COLLECTIVE SOCIAL BODIES WITH A DISPROPORTIONATE AMOUNT OF AUTHORITY/POWER (add +OFTEN MONOPOLY OF ‘LEGITIMATE’ VIOLENCE).

SO WHAT I THOUGH WHILE RUNNING AT THE MOUNTAIN WAS;

ONE COULD USE SAME METHOD FOR IDENTIFYING ‘TYPICAL ELICITING SITUATIONS’ AS PER THE STUDY OF EMOTION – THAT IS, METHODS FOR IDENTIFYING SOCIAL SITUATIONS THAT TYPICALLY EVOKE OR ELICIT PARTICULAR EMOTIONAL RESPONSES (AS CATEGORISED OR LABELLED ACCORDING TO LOCAL TERMS AND CONCEPTS ETC) – TO IDENTIFY ‘TYPICAL ELICITING SITUATIONS FOR ‘CRIMES OF IMMORALITY’ ON THE ONE HAND & ‘CRIMES OF ILLEGALITY’ ON THE OTHER.

ONE COULD THEN COMPARE AND CONTRAST ‘TYPICAL ELICITING SITUATIONS’, WHICH WOULD ILLUMINATE THE DISPARITY DURKHEIM DRAWS ATTENTION TO HERE AS MANIFEST OR REFLECTED IN/AS AN ETHNOGRAPHIC CASE. BUT MORE INTERESTINGLY (I THINK) IS THE FACT THAT ONE COULD THEN BEGIN TO CRITICALLY EXAMINE THIS DISPARITY AS AN ETHNOGRAPHIC ENQUIRY – AND BEGIN ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT THE NATURE, REASON AND/OR JUSTIFICATION FOR SUCH A DISPARITY

FOR EXAMPLE ONE MIGHT FOCUS ON CERTAIN SALIENT ‘TYPICAL ELICITING SITUATIONS’ FOR ‘CRIMES OF ILLEGALITY’ THAT DO NOT CORRESPOND TO ‘CRIMES OF IMMORALITY’ – THAT IS – THOSE THAT MOST PEOPLE DO NOT FEEL ARE ‘WRONG’ IN A MORAL AFFECT SENSE BUT WHICH NEVERTHELESS TYPICALLY ELICIT OR EVOKE A PREDICTABLE & EMPIRICALLY OBSERVABLE RESPONSE OR PUNISHMENT FROM ‘THE LAW’ (HERE I’M THINKING SPECIFICALLY OF CASES IN CONTEMPORARY CAPITALIST STATE SYSTEMS);

WHAT MANDATE IF NOT THE COLLECTIVE CONSCIENCE? WHAT MOTIVATION IF NOT COLLECTIVE SENTIMENT? WHAT IS IT THAT ‘THE LAW’ IS PROTECTING IF NOT THE SOCIO-MORAL FABRIC, INTEGRITY & ORDER OF THAT SOCIETY?

MY HYPOTHESIS AS REGARDS THE NATURE, REASON AND/OR JUSTIFICATION FOR THIS DISPARITY (SPECIFIC W/ REGARD TO CONTEMPORARY CAPITALIST STATE SYSTEMS) WOULD BE SOMETHING ALONG THE LINES OF –   ‘C.A.P.I.T.A.L.’  – AND MORE GENERALLY, I WOULD GUESS, SOMETHING ALONG THE LINES OF – PRIVATE PROPERTY – PERHAPS I THINK

 

/END SPECULATIVE OUTBURST/

 


[1] which Durkheim would not actually describe as ‘crimes’ unless they correspond to ‘actual’ crimes as he defines them, which affront (or “shock” as he likes to say) the ‘collective conscience’.

3 Comments

Filed under Anthropology, General personal writings

3 responses to “Kangaroos and contraband thoughts on Durkheim, morality, criminality and such

  1. I like this division but I am not sure what you are thinking about, when you say ‘crimes of illegality’ that do not correspond to ‘crimes of immorality’ in contemporary capitalist systems. I am thinking more of the opposite case: ‘crimes of immorality’ (see modern financial systems that allow few people to become obscenely rich while everybody else is getting poorer) that are not illegal at all (thanks to financial laws made by politicians elected through the support of those few people becoming obscenely rich through modern financial systems)

  2. Hi Marco,

    I see what you mean. I think ‘Crimes of immorality’ that are not illegal exemplify the disparity Durkheim is drawing attention to here.

    Another example that came to mind are Protest Movements, which are often solely motivated by waves or particular aspects of the ‘collective conscience’ precisely because they are NOT reflected or represented by centralised, collective social bodies (with a disproportionate amount of power and authority and often a monopoly of ‘legitimate’ violence) – precisely because they do NOT correspond to ‘eliciting situations’ as per the law – which is EXACTLY (I think) why there is often such a disproportionate amount of force used by the law in such cases.

    This quote for Durkheim may make more sense than I do.
    I sent to a friend only yesterday with Berlusconi in mind:

    ‘Even when a criminal act is certainly harmful to society, it is not true that the amount of harm that it does is regularly related to the intensity of the repression which it calls forth. In the penal law of the most civilized people, murder is universally regarded as the greatest of crimes. However, an economic crisis, a stock-market crash, even a failure, can disorganize the social body more severely than an isolated homicide. No doubt murder is always an evil, but there is no proof that it is the greatest of evils. What is one man less to society? What does one lost cell matter to the organism? We say that the future general security would be menaced if the act remained unpunished; but if we compare the significance of the danger, real as it is, and that of the punishment, the disproportion is striking. Moreoever, the examples we have just cited show that an act can be disastrous to society without incurring the least repression.’

    ~ Durkheim 1964 (orig. 1893), ‘The Division of Labor in Society’, The Free Press, New York, p. 72.

  3. Pingback: Laying it down, impressing it in place: the separation and/or authority of morality and ‘law’ | Fieldnotes & Footnotes

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