Crime, Madness and Politics in Modern France

Crime, Madness and Politics in Modern France: The Medical Concept of National Decline

Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Crime, Madness and Politics in Modern France
    Book Description:

    Robert A. Nye places in historical context a medical concept of deviance that developed in France in the last half of the nineteenth century, when medical models of cultural crisis linked thinking about crime, mental illness, prostitution, alcoholism, suicide, and other pathologies to French national decline.

    Originally published in 1984.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5627-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-2)

    When I began this study, my principal interest was in crime, most particularly in the emergence of a discipline of scientific criminology out of an amorphous body of anthropological, sociological, and ethical thinking. The book that has finally resulted is a general survey of social deviance in France from the mid-nineteenth century to the eve of World War I. There are various reasons that account for the expansion of the subject beyond its original scope.

    First, it was soon evident to me, as it has been to everyone else who has looked through the older criminological literature, that crime was...

  5. CHAPTER I The Historical Study of Deviance
    (pp. 3-21)

    Until quite recently, deviance has been terra incognita for historians of post-1815 European society. Historians have been studying the “underclasses,” socially marginal individuals, and deviants in the early modern period for many years. For France, the work of the English historian Richard Cobb on bandits, criminals, prostitutes, and vagrants at the end of the eighteenth century would weigh respectably in the balance against the work done on the subsequent hundred years. Despite the great volume of writing on factory workers, poverty, and the poor, we still know relatively little about deviants in modern Europe or what contemporaries thought about them....

  6. CHAPTER II Criminal Law, Medicine, and Justice in the Nineteenth Century
    (pp. 22-48)

    The purpose of this chapter is to provide a brief introduction to the legal and institutional settings that governed questions of deviance in nineteenth-century France. There is a long prehistory to the medicalization of deviance that gained momentum during the Third Republic. An important part of this prehistory is the evolution of the criminal law from Napoleonic times to 1871, including the historic relations of political and legal authority that were perpetuated in the enabling legislation of 1875. French penal law and penal procedures are different enough in several important respects from the Anglo-Saxon legal tradition that I believe a...

  7. CHAPTER III Between MacMahon and Boulanger: Crime and the “Moral Order” of the Opportunist Republic
    (pp. 49-96)

    As I have already suggested, no truly accurate account of the medicalization of deviance can overlook how medical ideas interacted with political, intellectual, and social forces within a detailed historical context. For the era 1870-1885, such a contextual strategy will reveal the extraordinary extent to which the advance of medicalization was dependent on factors external to medicine itself. If medicine supplied the language for this development, it cannot be said that doctors themselves had a large role in promoting the application of medical ideas to social problems in this relatively early period. The principal subject of this chapter is the...

  8. CHAPTER IV Heredity or Milieu: The Born-Criminal Debate and the Foundations of Criminology
    (pp. 97-131)

    The 1880s and early 1890s were a time of extraordinary intellectual effervescence and doctrinal combat within the international legal community. During this period a major effort was mounted in Europe to reform the classical freewill penal codes which were regarded by progressives as having outlived their time, and to include within them measures allowing the state to adapt punishment (treatment) to the criminal rather than the crime he committed. Legal progressives were joined by doctors, social scientists, and other interested experts in assembling reliable knowledge about the nature of criminals and criminal behavior that would aid them in making the...

  9. CHAPTER V Metaphors of Pathology in the Belle Epoque: The Rise of a Medical Model of Cultural Crisis
    (pp. 132-170)

    Is it contradictory to link together the terms “belle époque” and “cultural crisis”? Can a period whose literature, music, and art reached pinnacles arguably as high as those in any other era in French (or European) culture have coincided with a profound and widespread concern with illness and decline? Leaving aside the questions of the origins of the term “belle époque” as a convention of literary and art historians, or of the period 1885-1914 as a roseate memory of a reign of survivors from theancien régime, it is clear that the thirty years preceding the war were years of...

  10. CHAPTER VI The Politics of Social Defense: Violent Crime, “Apaches,” and the Press at the Turn of the Century
    (pp. 171-226)

    In the early summer of 1908Le Figaro’sliterary editor Maurice Leudet interviewed the celebrated Italian criminologist Scipio Sighele, who was visiting Paris to promote his new book,Littérature et criminalité. The interview passed quickly to topical matters of great concern to Leudet. What did Sighele make, he asked, of the infamous child murderer Jeanne Weber, whose case was currently being heard in an assizes court of the capital? “Certainly a degenerate,” replied Cesare Lombroso’s former disciple, a type against which society “must learn to defend itself.” Sighele reflected further on the unusual difficulty of social defense in this advanced...

  11. CHAPTER VII The Boundaries of Responsibility: Asylum Law and Legal Medicine in an Era of Social Defense
    (pp. 227-264)

    Two events spanning the years 1905-1909 provide exceptionally rich insights into the practical applications of the medical language of social defense. These events were the debate and passage of a bill revising the 1838 asylum law in the Chamber of Deputies, and the practically simultaneous existence of a crisis in public and judicial confidence in expert medical testimony. The principal figures in these events were doctors of legal medicine, asylum doctors, and psychiatric clinicians, specialists in the care of the mentally ill, and guardians of the state’stutelleover those who forfeited their civil status when they lost their reason....

  12. CHAPTER VIII 1908: The Capital-Punishment Debate in the Chamber of Deputies
    (pp. 265-309)

    In the political life of the Third Republic the Chamber of Deputies was all-powerful. Though the constitutional arrangements written by the conservatives in 1875 were meant to build dikes around the exercise of unlimited power by a radical lower house, these efforts were thwarted by the overwhelming electoral success of Republicans in the 1880s. The presidency and the Senate, designed as checks to popular sovereignty, became nothing more in practice than echoes of the Chamber itself. By 1900 the Senate had become a polite debating society and a fact-gathering agency for legislative proposals of relative insignificance. All important legislation was...

  13. CHAPTER IX Sport, Regeneration, and National Revival
    (pp. 310-329)

    In recent years some scholars have made an effort to challenge the received wisdom about the origins and extent of the so-called national revival. It had long been held that an upsurge of nationalist sentiment following the Tangiers crisis of 1905 swelled into a huge wave of sympathy for the army, for the “lost” provinces of Alsace-Lorraine, and for revenge against Germany. One of the earliest investigations of modern French nationalism, Carlton J. H. Hayes’sFrance, a Nation of Patriots(1930) took as its premise the assumption that the French had survived the Great War intact because their traditional patriotism...

  14. CHAPTER X Conclusion: Comparative Reflections on Great Britain and Germany
    (pp. 330-340)

    Though the French may have been unique in Europe for the sheer obsessiveness with which they investigated deviance and linked it to national decline, such concerns were not uncommon elsewhere. Throughout Europe in the late nineteenth century, there was an unprecedented preoccupation with crime statistics, with the numbers and forms of insanity, and with the appearance of apparently novel forms of sexual behavior. Much of this concern was quite simply a reflection of the moral outlook of the “respectable” middle classes, whose high regard for continence and self-discipline encouraged a suspicion of unregulated or unrestrained social behavior.¹ Thus, one can...

    (pp. 341-360)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 361-367)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 368-368)