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Punishment and Respect: The Sacralization of the Person and its Endangerment

Joas, H. (2008). Punishment and Respect: The Sacralization of the Person and its Endangerment. Journal of Classical Sociology, 8(2), pp. 159-177. doi: 10.1177/1468795X08088870


Discussions of punishmentin the modern era turn on the question of the definition and importance of human rights. To understand this linkage, it is important to examine critically two narratives of the origin and development of modern Western forms of punishment, namely that of the Enlightenment, and that of the process of ‘disciplination’ to be found in the work of Foucault. In this article, I suggest an alternative to both these narratives, namely a Durkheimian attention to the process of the ‘sacralization of the person’ which indicates the importance ofreading thedevelopment ofmodernpunishment aspart of a larger process of ‘inclusion’ in which more and more people were included within the category of human personhood. A focus on the sacrality of the person as central to the notion of punishment also helps us to understand the ambiguity of punishment in the modern era, as well as threats posed to human rights by certain contemporary punishment regimes.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Translated by Simon Susen.
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Sociology
Text - Accepted Version
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