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Social Control

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R 075490 HU

Timmy Zvichauya


(a) A summary of characters in Tina Rosenberg's book titled "Children of Cain." (b) Elements of social control as revealed in the book.

This essay is divided into two parts. The first part of the essay will give a brief summary of Tina Rosenberg's book titled "Children of Cain". It shall focus on the main characters in the book in an attempt to give an overall view of the themes it portrays. The second part of the essay will highlight how social control is revealed in Children of Cain.

Part A

"Children of Cain" is narrative a book based on the violent nature of Latin American societies. It attempts to expose violence through true stories of people in Argentine, Columbia, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Peru. It is pregnant with vivid mafia control of society by cocaine drug dealers in Columbia led by Escobar, Pinochet's despotic suppression of dissent in Chile and brutal massacres in Argentine naval base led by Astiz. The book also highlights the historical origins of events which later culminated into the violent nature of Latin American societies. In Columbia for example, the rise of Pablo Escobar as a drug dealer emanated from the prevalence of poverty and unemployment which blended well with his criminal nature. In Chile, the autocratic epoch of Pinochet is also traced to the ouster of president Allende in 1973. In Peru, the violence is also traced to the Maoist guerrillas. What is also peculiar about the book is that Rosenberg begins each of her six chapters with the story of an individual but she develops all her chapters to accommodate elements of history, politics, sociology, and personal observation. The book is well blended with a strong political ideology that shapes the social frameworks in Latin America. The Maoist in Peru, the Socialist turned capitalist Chile and the mafia controlled Columbia are all elements of social governance which are exposed in this book. Rosenberg's account of Latin American violence is based on practical interviewing of the rich and the poor, victors and perpetrators, revolutionaries and counterrevolutionaries. It is also worth noting how Rosenberg highlighted issues of corruption, drug abuse, class struggle, deaths, intimidation, anarchy, corruption, poverty, totalitarianism, democracy, media suppression and many other social ills which characterise Latin America in a vivid narrative account of events. This marks the highlights of the book.

Part B

This part will highlight how social control is portrayed in "Children of Cain". It will also highlight lessons on social control as they are revealed through various incidences in the book. It is important to note that this essay takes a bias towards the Columbian and Chilean experiences. The goal is in an attempt to justify the presents of social control in Rosenberg's book through these two selected areas since each chapter is a diverse account of different societies and as such, compiling all six chapters would require vast paper resources (my emphasis).

As background, the Columbian issue is centralised on the prevalence of cocaine drug deals orchestrated by Pablo Escobar. It is based on the informal elements of social control where authority is vested in drug dealers. The subsequent decay of the criminal justice system is what fascinates the exploration of social control in the chapter. Deaths, torture and intimidation culminated in the eventual control of the city of Medina with the murder of Medellin, a judge who had indicted Escobar, being the apex of the chapter. The Chilean episode is based on the rise of autocracy from a "democratic" Socialist society of President Allende to the totalitarian state of Pinochet. Ideological control, surveillance, production control, naturalisation and trivialising issues were some of the vast methods of social control employed in Chile. These two societies form the basis of this essay and the elements of social control shall be discussed accordingly.

The Columbian society reflects informal social control. This is when society involuntarily subjects itself to the control of illegitimate authority. This form of control is highlighted by the influence of Escobar in the city of Medellin. Escobar's ability to intimidate judicial officers from indicting him reveals the element of control. The book narrated how judges like Medina were shot in cold blood. Over 300 police officers who tried to investigate the cocaine deals were killed and eventually the society was plunged into control by the mafia gangs of Escobar. The gangs were known as "Sicarios" were notorious in their executions that they could kill anyone for as little as ten dollars. Their influence in society and their continued existence in a country with a legal criminal justice therefore support the existence of informal social control in Columbia. These groups resemble Riesman's view of veto groups whose interest determines public governance policy. Rosenberg narrated how police officers were scared of investigating any crimes linked to Escobar and that even if they did, no one would ever be willing to testify against him. Such ability to emasculate the formal channels of authority therefore substantiates the claim that the Columbian events were based on the informal elements of social control.

The mafia domination of society in Medellin exposes Durkheim's (1983) concept of anomie. Anomie refers to a state of normlessness. It is an unstable state of society in which the conventional ways of life are disturbed. This is clearly revealed through the chaotic nature of life in Medellin. If the Sicarios could be used for killing boyfriends and unyielding fathers, then the society is in anomie. The functional utility of the criminal justice system is disturbed and people were living in fear. This society is therefore in a control mode which has alienated citizens from the conventional trend. Innocent judges like Medellin who were killed because they participated in their functional roles therefore become suitable examples of the anomic state of social control which prevailed in Columbia.

An important lesson about social control emanating from the Columbian events is that there are different instruments of social control. These instruments included violence, threats, bribes, torture, killing, and corruption. Formal authority was subjected to the demands of the mafia through intimidation and bribes. This also shows how



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