Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice

2014 Edition
| Editors: Gerben Bruinsma, David Weisburd

History of Corporal Punishment

  • G. Geltner
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5690-2_276



In the gallery of penal practices, corporal punishment, or the dispensing of bodily harm in response to or as a deterring measure against crime, occupies a stable position as a marker of cruelty, especially when condoned by a central authority such as a state. From Cesare Beccaria to Émile Durkheim to Max Weber, and especially under the more recent and diverse influences of social philosophers Norbert Elias and Michel Foucault, modern students of punishment have construed cultures that allow physical pain to be legitimately, let alone publicly, inflicted as out of step with the process of civilization and as retaining a relic of an unenlightened past. Corporal punishment, however, has a far more complex history than a long and steady fall from grace, an inverse trajectory as it were to the progress of humanity (Scott 1938; Yelyr 1941). For, fluctuations in frequency aside, the past uses of corporal punishment were never devoid of...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands