Author Archives: believeinblue1

Racial Profiling: Critical Race Theory and Michel Foucault

Alternative Food For Thought:
You may write a post that outlines three sections of your term paper – the description of your topic and the two analytical sections that explain the topic using your chosen approaches.
This gives you an opportunity to receive some additional feedback regarding key ideas from your term paper.

Instead of addressing the original blog, I chose to do the alternative food for thought question because I felt that this opportunity should not be missed. By doing this topic, I feel that Mike gets a glimpse of our papers and could provide us with his opinions and constructive criticism which will help us better our assignment before the due date.
My term paper will address the very debatable and controversial topic of racial profiling in the Canadian society (and a few comparisons to United States), with a particular focus towards law enforcement. Racial profiling has been prevalent in Canadian history and in modern day since many citizens observe this as an ongoing issue. Racial profiling is the act of a police officers singling out individuals from visible minorities and giving them the title of being criminal. I am narrowing down the victims of racial profiling by focusing mainly on two groups have been constantly targeted solely based on their appearance, Muslims post 9/11 and African-Canadians. There are few members of law enforcement that successfully acknowledge racial profiling to be a concerning and continuous issue, where a large number of them disregard the issue as whole. The society needs to come together to eliminate racial profiling in order to live peacefully without the fear of being victimized by those in whom we bestow trust and power.
The first theory I chose to use to address and analyze my topic is critical race theory. In my opinion, the critical race theory goes hand in hand with my topic after the class lecture on critical legal studies and the presentation on “Stop and Frisk Program” implemented by the New York Police Department. What is critical race theory, critical race theory examines the relationship between power, race, and law. Critical race theory is about race and confronting racism which seem to be deeply rooted in many aspects of Canadian and American society (Pavlich, 2011). According to the UCLA School of Public Affairs: “ Critical race theory recognizes that racism is engrained in… [North American] society. The power structures are based on white privilege and white supremacy, which perpetuates the marginalization of people of color”. In regards to race, theorists of critical race would suggest that racial profiling is responsible for reproducing unequal race relations (Pavlich, 2011).
The second theorist I will draw upon is Michel Foucault. Some concepts in Michel Foucault’s theory of power-knowledge which I want to and will apply are the notions of governmentality, power, and discipline in the context of the racial profiling of Africans and Arabs. From my understanding of Foucault’s work, would likely argue that “racial profiling is an expression of power” (Morrison, 2007). For Foucault, power is that which represses a class or individuals. Morrison states that “Racism is, for Foucault, necessary to the State: only with racism can state killing be justified, and only with racism can the State exercise its sovereign power” (2007). From this view racial profiling instead of criminal profiling is a demonstration of racism used by members of law enforcement to achieve a kind of “control” if you will, over society.


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Disciplinary power

From my understanding of the class lecture and the textbook reading on Michel Foucault’s modes of power, disciplinary power is about training the actions of bodies and a mechanism that is responsible for the regulation of behaviour of individuals Disciplinary power comes into action when a population is under surveillance and/or are being monitored by a few people of ‘power’. Disciplinary power broke off from sovereign power by virtue of the fact that it was interested in investing in and enhancing life, rather than punishing by incapacitation or death as previously seen in sovereign power. Moreover, disciplinary power focuses on structuring the individual’s behaviour and mindset by targeting “correction…[and] rehabilitation through subtle, indirect, and judgmental micro-practices,“ rather than direct infliction on the body (Pavlich, 2011, p.143). According to Foucault, power is omnipresent, it is essentially everywhere; he goes on to say that it “comes from everywhere“ so in this sense we can interpret that power is neither an agency or structure (Foucault, 1998, p.63).

We see this when Foucault discusses Bentham’s panopticon, a prison with a tower at the center of the building from which it is possible for the guards to see each cell in which prisoners are incarcerated. In this system, each prisoner is seen but cannot communicate with anyone. Prisoners are under surveillance during every aspect of their lives under the guise of reforming them for the better rather than merely seeking retribution for their crimes. The systems of surveillance in the panopticon did not require force or violence, just the mere fact of observation changed the ways in which the prisoners acted.

When making a connection to the panopticon to the real world (life outside prison), I do believe that disciplinary techniques such as surveillance do in fact create `disciplinary subjects,` I think this because I have observed that people act differently than they normally would when they think they are being watched. Just like the panopticon, people discipline themselves and behave in ways society expects them to act, for example by following societal norms and such. In society, people conform to the ideas of norms in order to be presumed normal rather than abnormal. Disciplinary power creates a body of knowledge and behaviour known as “discursive practice” which defines what acts are normal, acceptable, deviant, etc (Foucault, 1991). Till date, disciplinary power can be observed in systems of administration or social services, such as prisons, schools, workplaces, and mental hospitals.

Most people have been subjected to disciplinary power at almost every step at life as I have, though many have not even thought of be subjected to it. For instance, in childhood our actions are monitored by parents who teach us values and normative behaviours of their society (Krevans and Gibbs, 1996; Halpenny et al., 2009). Later on, we are surveilled by teachers in schools; I think it is somewhat appropriate to say that in schools teachers train/teach us to conform in acceptable ways (school policies would be a strong example). As life goes on we experience disciplinary power in the workforce (we follow and abide the policies put out by our employers). Reflecting back, I cannot remember/retrieve an instance on which I have resisted disciplinary mechanisms; I think I have been a person who conforms to societal norms.

Foucault, M. (1991). Discipline and Punish: the birth of a prison. London, Penguin.
Foucault, M. (1998). The History of Sexuality: the will to knowledge. London, Penguin.
Halpenny, A. M. et al. (2009). Parenting Styles and Discipline: Parent’s Perspectives Summary Report. The National Children’s Strategy Research Series.
Krevans, J. & Gibbs, J. (1996). Parents’ Use of Inductive Discipline: Relations to Children’s Empathy and Prosocial Behavior. CHILD DEVELOPMENT, 67:3263-3277.
Pavlich, G. (2011). Law and Society Redefined. Ontario, Canada: Oxford.

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Crime: Normal

Food for Thought Topic: Durkheim’s sociology of law proposes that crime is a normal part of society, and that it is necessary and indispensable. What does this mean? Is Durkheim correct? Discuss, with reference to contemporary examples.

In this week’s reading of Law and Society Redefined, Emile Durkheim suggests that crime is a normal part of society, and that it is necessary and indispensable. From my interpretation of this, he means that crime exists essentially everywhere in society, and by everywhere I mean it surrounds us on a daily basis. And it truly does, because crime occurs in many different contexts, whether it be petty, street level, or white collar/corporate crime.

I agree with Durkheim’s proposal that crime is a part of society, like I have mentioned above it is omnipresent. We do not live in a utopian society, for that reason I agree with Durkheim that crime is normal. In lower level courses we have learned that Durkheim did numerous studies where he tried to find a society in which crime did not exist, but failed to find such a community, leaving him to conclude that crime is a part of life. Durkheim later went to state that “a certain quantity of deviance indicated a healthy society” (Smith, 2008, p. 338). Moreover, in the book Suicide, Durkheim writes:

“We must therefore call crime necessary and declare that it cannot be nonexistent, that the fundamental conditions of social organisation, as they are understood logically imply it. Consequently it is normal” (Durkheim, 1966, p. 362).

Society accepts crime to be of normalcy on a general consensus, though crime is thought be deviant and unacceptable, this contradictory statement means that despite that fact that crime happens regularly, people do not approve of the heinous acts associated with it. We learn in Pavlich’s text that society is “independent of the individuals it moulds and shapes” (2011, p. 74). Although a society is comprised of individuals, it in turn does influence our thinking. In society we are embedded in social norms and beliefs that are responsible in swaying our thoughts. Durkheim views that crime and deviance brings a community together, suggesting that society is a collective. He says,

“Crime, therefore, draws honest consciences together, concentrating them. We have only to observe what happens, particularly in a small town, when some scandal involving morality has just taken place. People stop each other in the street, call upon one another, meet in their customary places to talk about what has happened” (Durkheim, 1964, p. 58).

I deem that society heavily influences how we think and view certain things, such as crime.

A local example of crime surrounding us is gang related crimes; living in Surrey, I have come to view gang violence to be normal because shootings happen so frequently. It is not something new, when we switch the tv on to the local 6 o’clock news, the headlines usually run as the following ‘Police Investigate Surrey Shooting” or ‘Shooting Victim Previously Known to Police; Associated to Gangs’ (CTV News, 2012). However, on a personal level, I strongly oppose of gang violence, I view it to be extremely wrong; but like most people in Surrey (I have asked opinions of many people; their identities are to remain confidential), I too have come to accept it as a part of life because you cannot run away from crime. It is no question that everyone would prefer to live in a utopian society where everything is perfect; however, it is quite difficult to imagine that such a community can exist because crime in reality is inevitable, leaving me to say that Durkheim is correct.

CTV News. Police investigate shooting in Surrey, B.C. Retrieved from:
Durkheim, E. (1964). The division of labor in society. New York: Free Press. (Original work published
Durkheim, E. (1966). Suicide. New York: Free Press. (Original work published 1897)
Pavlich, G. (2011). Law & Society Redefined. Toronto: Oxford University Press.
Smith, P. (2008). “Durkheim and Criminology: Reconstructing the Legacy”. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 41(3), 333-344. Doi: 10.1375/acri.41.3.333


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Women Being Denied of a Simple Right.

In today’s time one would automatically assume that everyone over a certain age, generally speaking, has the right to vote (depending on what country one resides in). Despite living in a modern society, there are many countries across the globe that still deny females the right to vote. In places such as Vatican City and Saudi Arabia women are deprived of this simple liberty. Looking at this issue from a Canadian perspective, we live in an emancipated era, it is utterly poignant that women who are considered to be equal counterparts to men are not eligible to have such a basic right.

Many people across the world view Vatican City and Saudi Arabia to be “holy places,” where one would think gender equality is a key component of life. Gender equality cannot be reached if there are laws in tact that state only certain portion of the public has the right to elect a political leader while another group is far from putting in their input. The election held in Vatican City is the Papal Conclave, in which the pope is elected by the College of Cardinals, a special group of males, “who by definition are male priests” that come in assistance to the elected pope in decision making (CBC News 2005). Women are not granted access to the cardinals, therefore being denied of having the right to vote.

Saudi Arabia follows laws of Islam which is preceded in the Qur’an, this holy book implies that men are superior to women, the direct translation states “men are in charge of women” (4:34). The monarchy in Saudi Arabia acts in accordance to the Qur’an repressing the basic civil rights of women (Arab News 2012). The women of Saudi Arabia are deprived of many liberties, one of them being the right to vote. They do not have the privilege of electing an official to represent them nor are they allowed to run for office (Arab News 2012).

In response to this situation, John Finnis would argue that a healthy community needs a common code of conduct that orders and coordinates interaction to achieve a common good, how can a community be healthy if both sexes are not considered to be equal. Finnis would argue that women being denied the right to vote “clearly violates the requirement that law serve the common good of all people” (Pavlich, 2011). In relation to voting, Finnis would view this issue to be suppressing many forms of human flourishing, as it also violates his fifth value of sociability and friendship which requires a ‘unity of common action’ (1980). The deprivation of such rights only for women does not serve the “common good” of all people because no good is being done for women. Without voting rights human life will not flourish; “human life cannot flourish without a community, led by an authority who pursues the interests of a common good” in which common goods refers to the interests of all people in a society (Pavlich 2011). Pavlich says that if a law is against the common good, “it forfeits a moral right to govern its subjects” because justice is “always about securing and nurturing that common good” which in this case is the liberty of voting (2011). One could also argue that Finnis’ fourth form of human flourishment ‘aesthetic experience’ is lost for women because they don’t have the privilege of electing a leader. It is quite evident that gender should not be an obstacle in voting, as one has the right to elect an official in their legislation. The question to ask is, when will these nations start treating women equally by giving them a simple civil liberty such as voting?

References Cited

Alnowaiser, K. (2012). Saudi women urgently need equal rights. Arab News. Retrieved September 20, 2012 from

Finnis, J. (1980). Natural Law and Natural Rights. New York: Clarendon Press.

Pavlich, G. (2011). Law & Society Redefined. New York: Oxford University Press. 1-39. (Retrieved September 20, 2012) (Retrieved September 20, 2012)


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