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Understanding torture: the strengths and the limits of social theory

Morris, L (2012) 'Understanding torture: the strengths and the limits of social theory.' The International Journal of Human Rights, 16 (8). pp. 1127-1141. ISSN 1364-2987

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Abstract

This article explores the contribution that social theory can make to an understanding of the practice of torture. After a contextual introduction it addresses the idealist?realist divide, and the use made of Durkheim and Weber to respectively support two irreconcilable positions, thus displaying the limits of theory. The article then argues that social theory may be better suited to a more modest aim of analysing the social relations, social structures and discursive manoeuvres that underpin the practice of torture, while also considering the role of agency, constraint and individual responsibility. In this light the article revisits the use made of Durkheim and Weber in the opening debate and reconsiders the nature of their continuing relevance.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: human rights; social theory; torture; agency; ethics
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2012 13:29
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 13:22
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/4700

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