Honorable Mention for Richard Weisman’s book Showing Remorse: Law and the Social Control of Emotion

Posted by Sarah Stilwell, Senior Marketing Executive

Showing remorseWe are delighted to learn that Richard Weisman’s book Showing Remorse: Law and the Social Control of Emotion has received Honorable Mention from the Committee for the Distinguished Book Award for 2014 of the Sociology of Law section of the American Sociological Association. The Honorable Mention will be formally recognised at the Sociology of Law Section Business Meeting at the 2014 ASA Conference in San Francisco.

The award panel’s citation includes:

The work is deeply researched, persuasively argued and lucidly written.  In its treatment of emotions as an event mediated by symbols and interpretations, the work suggests an inextricable social component in expressions of remorse.  Its argument that expressions of remorse vary across social contexts in terms of cultural style, when called for and how they should be conveyed and that these are matters to be explained is evocative.  Along with Foucauldian roots in the notion of the creation of ‘the subject of power’, the book offers an intriguing focus on the contingency of attributions of remorse as well as recognition of the pathological approach to the absence of remorse where a transgressor who is perceived as unable to experience remorse is naturalized as different and somehow deficient.  Emphasis on the ways in which defiance in the refusal to express remorse can be construed as a challenge to the moral basis for the actions of the court offers new insight into the ways communal normativity is reaffirmed or, as in the case of South Africa, reshaped.  This book adds nuance and depth to a much considered topic and so makes a most significant contribution to the intellectual wealth of our field.”

Richard Weisman is Professor Emeritus, Department of Social Science, Law and Society Program, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, and Department of Sociology, Glendon College, York University, in Toronto, Canada

‘My current research analyzes the social processes by which remorsefulness and remorselessness are claimed by self and attributed by other. Law is one important site for this process in that considerations of remorse enter into judgments about parole, sentencing, dangerous offender status in Canada and capital punishment in the United States’.

Other endorsements for Showing Remorse include:

‘In this gem of a book, Richard Weisman wrestles with the concept of remorse in surprisingly novel ways, using rich illustrations to depict remarkably diverse rituals of apology. Weisman’s effort to probe the contested meanings that remorse holds in our culture, law, and morality has yielded a tour de force.’   Constance Backhouse, University of Ottawa, Canada

In the legal system, much depends on whether an accused wrongdoer shows appropriate remorse, yet little attention has been paid to how and why remorse should be exhibited. Richard Weisman’s important book explores what the community expects from a remorseful wrongdoer and what happens – or ought to happen – when those expectations are thwarted.’   Susan Bandes, DePaul University College of Law, USA

In this carefully argued and researched volume, Richard Weisman provides an original examination of the concept of remorse. The work constitutes a valuable addition to the literature on this complex issue and will be of great interest to sociolegal scholars and legal practitioners alike.’   Julian V. Roberts, University of Oxford, UK

‘While contemporary criminal justice is officially secular and fact-driven, offenders are nevertheless expected to show remorse, and lack of visible remorse can have a marked negative impact in parole and probation contexts as well as in sentencing. In this innovative work Richard Weisman explores the complex emotional, psychological and legal issues raised by the criminal justice’s system unwritten expectations about offending and remorse. The book will be of interest to criminologists, sociolegal scholars, forensic psychologists, defence lawyers, and judges, but it is also accessible to the general public.’   Mariana Valverde, University of Toronto, Canada

Showing Remorse was published by Ashgate in January 2014. For more information on the book please visit Ashgate’s website

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