Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences / Punishment and Symbolic Social Exchange: The Unnecessary Victims of Criminal Justice

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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences. 2020 13 (10)
Bibik, Oleg N.
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Bibik, Oleg N.: Dostoevsky Omsk State University Omsk, Russian Federation; ; ORCID: 0000-0002-2237-7082
criminal penalty; symbolic social exchange; culturally determined behavior; standard of living; human life time; incarceration; the death penalty

This article explores the essence of criminal punishment as an element of symbolic social exchange based on social exchange theory, cultural psychology, and the economics of crime using the example of the death penalty and imprisonment. The study concludes that the choice of punishment for a crime depends entirely on the cultural characteristics of society. The commodity in this exchange is the lifetime of a person, the value of which depends on standard of living and the welfare of society. That is why capital punishment and imprisonment are more often used in countries with lower standards of living. For the same reason, imprisonment rate correlates with homicide rate. The higher the homicide rate, the lower the value of a person’s life in a particular country, and the more often imprisonment is used. Raising standards of living increases the marginal harmfulness of criminal punishment, which stimulates its reduction. At the same time, the deflation of criminal punishment for violent crimes is slowing due to decreased tolerance for violence in modern society

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