Torture Research

Macro-Level Causes

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Chomsky, Noam. 1984.  “US Aid and Torture: A Correlation.” Journal of Palestine Studies 13(2), 184-192. 
Argues that countries allied with and receiving aid from the United States are more likely to use torture.

Einolf, Christopher J. 2007. “The Fall and Rise of Torture: A Comparative and Historical Analysis.” Sociological Theory 25(2), 101-121.
I propose four general patterns in the use of torture across societies and time periods:
    1. Torture is most commonly used against people who are not full members of a society, such as slaves, foreigners, prisoners of war, and members of racial, ethnic, and religious outsider groups.
    2. Torture is used more rarely against members or citizens of a society. In this case, two special conditions must apply:
        a. Torture is only used after a finding of probable guilt, and
        b. Torture is only used in cases of extremely serious crimes, particularly heresy and treason.
    3. Torture is more commonly used when a government or society perceives itself to be under threat.
    4. The rise of human rights norms, and the increase in the number of liberal democratic states, have had a significant impact in reducing torture. Liberal democratic states do sometimes engage in torture, but do so much less often than other states, and almost never use torture against their own citizens. When they do engage in torture, it is primarily against noncitizens and under conditions of extreme threat, such as in response to terrorist attacks.

Cohen, Irwin M., and Raymond R. Corrado. 2005. “State Torture in the Contemporary World.” International Journal of Comparative Sociology 46, 103-131.

            A comparative historical article that explains variation in state use of torture by economic status. Agrarian societies often use torture, b/c a small landholding minority controls the wealth and must use torture to keep the large number of very poor people under control. Industrial societies can go either way. Post-industrial societies are wealthy and don’t need torture.
            Torture should decrease in the future because international opinion is against it and countries need to keep the good will of other countries to participate in the world economy. Also, the end of the Cold War has removed alternate sources (the Soviet Bloc) of approval for countries who use torture.

Howard, Rhoda E., and Jack Donnelly. 1986. “Human dignity, human rights, and political regimes.”  American Political Science Review 80:801-18.

            Divides political regimes into a number of types: liberal, minimal, traditional, communist, corporatist, and developmental.  Argues that only liberal regimes respect human rights.


Written by tortureresearch

January 27, 2010 at 8:40 pm

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