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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 204929 Find in a Library
Title: Cultural Embeddedness of Social Control: Reflections on a Comparison of Italian and North American Cultures Concerning Punishment (From Criminal Justice and Political Cultures: National and International Dimensions of Crime Control, P 80-103, 2004, Tim Newburn and Richard Sparks, eds., -- See NCJ-20
Author(s): Dario Melossi
Date Published: 2004
Page Count: 24
Sponsoring Agency: Willan Publishing
Portland, OR 97213-3644
Sale Source: Willan Publishing
c/o ISBS, 5804 N.E. Hassalo Street
Portland, OR 97213-3644
United States of America
Type: Survey (Cross-Cultural)
Format: Book (Softbound)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This chapter explores the way in which social control is culturally embedded by analyzing comparisons of North American and Italian approaches to punishment.
Abstract: Comparative analysis of criminal justice ideologies and practices within different cultures is approximate at best because of the problem of translation. Social scientists can only hope to achieve conversation between different cultures; meaningful translation is impossible. In the same way, social institutions such as criminal justice systems, cannot be conceived of separately from the historical conditions from which they emerged. Social institutions are embedded within a culture and cannot be accurately reflected upon absent its cultural milieu. Understanding variations in penal and criminal policies and practices across cultures must be based on a recognition of the culturally embedded nature of the policies and practices. The author explores the historical and political conditions in the United States and in Italy that gave rise to their distinctive brands of penal ideology and practice. The indulgent and forgiving Italian penal system is contrasted to the punitive American penal system. Differences in the dominant religion of each country, a radical Protestant tradition in America versus a homogeneous and paternalistic Catholic tradition in Italy, are discussed in relation to their influence on culture and, in particular, on their penal systems. The Italian penal system reflects an ideology of indulgence and forgiveness while the American penal system reflects the punitiveness inherent in Protestant discourse. The political climate of each country is also examined to further illustrate the cultural embeddedness of social control. Thus, the author has argued that a genealogy of punishment cannot be a general genealogy of punishment, as issues of social control are deeply embedded with the national and cultural milieu within which they were born. Notes, references
Main Term(s): Cross-cultural comparisons
Index Term(s): Comparative analysis; Criminal justice ideologies; Cultural influences; Social control
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