remorse-manuscript-socialandlegalstudies-websiteedition.doc

What i hope to accomplish below is to show how the

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analysis. What I hope to accomplish below is to show how the emotion of remorse is constituted in one of the primary sites for these public occasions- courts and tribunals- and how through the characterization of persons as remorseful or unremorseful, the larger community is instructed about when feelings of remorse are expected and when they are not as well as what form these feelings should take. That expressions of remorse- when believed- mitigate punishment in law and diminish the social disapproval of transgressors in more informal settings is by now a commonplace observation amply documented both in legal and criminological scholarship and in experiments in social psychology, respectively( Robinson, Smith- Lovin, and Tsoudis, 1994.) A recent and highly prolific ongoing study of jurors in cases involving capital punishment in the United States has demonstrated through interviews and questionnaires that jurors attach more importance to expressions of remorse in deciding whether to vote for death or for life without parole than all other enunciated factors except prior history of violent crime and predictions of future dangerousness(Garvey, 1998, 1560-61.) Other recent scholarly contributions have further shown that similar distinctions based on the remorse of the transgressor are operative as well in non-English speaking jurisdictions such as China, Japan, and the Netherlands(Chang, 2001; Johnson, 2002; and Komter, 1998, respectively.) . A starting point for contemporary research is the recognition that the division of wrongdoers into those who are believed to feel remorse from those who are believed not to feel remorse is a major source of the moral dichotomization of those who have been found to be culpable. Wrongdoers who are regarded as remorseful are viewed as more worthy of mercy, safer for reinclusion into the community, and more similar to their law-abiding 3
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neighbors than are those who have not shown remorse or whose expressions of remorse are judged as not credible. The present inquiry builds on this previous research but also takes a new direction both theoretically and methodologically. Firstly, and most importantly, it resituates the process of attributing remorse as relevant not just to law and criminology but also to the sociology of emotions. The analysis of successful as well as failed moral performances 1 - or public demonstrations of remorse- can tell us about what Arlie Hochschild and others have referred to as the ’feeling rules’ that govern how members of a moral community are expected to feel about transgressions against the social order(Hochschild, 2003) . Hochschild’s work, among its other contributions, calls attention to the normative dimension of feelings or the communication by those in positions of authority of how we should feel in relation to our actions and the consequences, both formal and informal, if we fail to meet these expectations(Hochschild, p.84) As we shall see, judicial speech is explicit both in what it defines as appropriate demonstrations of remorse and in its coupling of these demonstrations with rewards and punishments.
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