Comparative Capital Punishment
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Comparative Capital Punishment

Edited by Carol S. Steiker and Jordan M. Steiker

Comparative Capital Punishment offers a set of in-depth, critical and comparative contributions addressing death practices around the world. Despite the dramatic decline of the death penalty in the last half of the twentieth century, capital punishment remains in force in a substantial number of countries around the globe. This research handbook explores both the forces behind the stunning recent rejection of the death penalty, as well as the changing shape of capital practices where it is retained. The expert contributors address the social, political, economic, and cultural influences on both retention and abolition of the death penalty and consider the distinctive possibilities and pathways to worldwide abolition.
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Chapter 16: Pulling states towards abolitionism: the power of acculturation as a socialization mechanism

Michelle Miao


The worldwide anti-death penalty movement has made significant progress since the late 1980s. A growing number of countries have abolished the death penalty, de jure or de facto, or significantly restricted the application of the death penalty. Yet a theoretical question at the heart of the anti-death penalty movement has rarely been explored by the existing literature: why are states willing to adjust their own practices and preferences in accordance with foreign influences and international norms? This chapter uses the socialization theory as a conceptual framework to assess the limits and advantages of various abolition-promoting strategies and mechanisms. In particular, through studying the death penalty practices in a few abolitionist as well as retentionist jurisdictions across the globe, the research found that acculturation-a process during which target states are motivated to comply with international norms and standards out of their concerns for international status and identity-has been a subtle yet powerful instrument for change in this field.

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