PhD Candidate Eduardo Gutierrez Cornelius on ‘The Contribution of Pierre Bourdieu to the Sociology of Punishment’

Ph.D. Candidate Eduardo Gutierrez Cornelius recently published an article in “Confluências – Interdisciplinary Journal of Sociology and Law”, a quarterly edition of the Postgraduate Program in Sociology and Law at the Fluminense Federal University.

Eduardo is currently in the process of obtaining his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Toronto. His research interests are focused around socio-legal studies and currently works as a teaching assistant for the Sociology of Law and Lawyers.

Although the article was originally written in Portuguese, we have posted an English translation of the abstract, as well as the citation. The full text is available here.

Cornelius, E. G. (2017). The Contribution of Pierre Bourdieu to the Sociology of Punishment:A Theoretical and Methodological Approach in the study of Judicial Decisions. Confluências,18(3), pp. 137-156. 

This paper presents a theoretical perspective on punishment and judicial decisions, with the goal of emphasizing the importance of legal actors’ justifications for their decisions. At the intersection of the sociology of law and the sociology of punishment, it explores how several aspects of Pierre Bourdieu’s theory are useful for studying judicial decisions on punishment. Such decisions are framed as acts of state, as products of struggles as possessing the monopoly of legitimate physical and symbolic violence. From this perspective, judicial decisions are not only studied by their outcome, but also by the motivations that follow them. This means that the categories legal actors use to describe the crime, the criminal and the role of punishment are of utmost importance. In order to demonstrate the potential of this theoretical proposition, examples from empirical research on youth punishment in the Brazilian Superior Court of Justice are provided.