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NCJ Number: 118835 Find in a Library
Title: Death Penalty and Anthropology (From Facing the Death Penalty, P 156-168, 1989, Michael L Radelet, ed. -- See NCJ-118827)
Author(s): C M Turnbull
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 13
Sponsoring Agency: Temple University Press
Philadelphia, PA 19122-6099
Sale Source: Temple University Press
1601 N. Broad Street
University Service Bldg., Room 305
Philadelphia, PA 19122-6099
United States of America
Type: Issue Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Anthropology uses four approaches that have both strengths and weaknesses with respect to their use in discussions of capital punishment: the methodological techniques of field work and comparison and the conceptual stances of holism and cultural relativity.
Abstract: Field work provides the opportunity for gathering descriptive data, although some participant observers mistakenly believe that their clothing and other external factors should be changed to make themselves less conspicuous and give them an inside view. The author's own experience conducting field research on death row showed the benefits of subjective experience in learning about the inner workings of the institutions as well as the impacts of the intense human relationships created in the course of the research. In addition, this experience as well as his presence at a public execution in another culture generated many types of comparisons among forms of punishment and cultures. These comparisons underscored the usefulness of the intellectual stances of cultural relativity and of holism, which involves the realization that every aspect of society is interrelated with every other aspect. Using these techniques as well as research from other disciplines may help give the issue of the death penalty the depth of attention that it needs and has lacked, on both practical and moral grounds. Reference.
Main Term(s): Capital punishment
Index Term(s): Behavioral science training; Cultural influences; Death row inmates
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