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Use Concepts and Ideas from the Social Approach to Explain the Key Issue You Have Studied (12 Marks)

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Submitted By Naz95
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Use concepts and ideas from the social approach to explain the key issue you have studied
(12 marks) The key issue I have studied is the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib. Abu Ghraib is a prison in Iraq and was used by the Iraqi government as a prison for many years. When the Iraqi government was removed from power, the prison was used to hold Iraqi detainees, who were guarded by soldiers from the USA. In April 2004 it was made public knowledge that the detainees were being tortured and dehumanised by the American soldiers. Newspapers were filled with photographs and descriptions of the torture of the Iraqi detainees and there was public disapproval of what was evidently intolerable treatment inflicted on them.

One theory that could be used to explain the issue is Milgram’s agency theory of obedience. This theory could be used because the soldiers are trained to be agents of authority and believe they have a duty to protect America as agents of society thus as soldiers, they would be agents obeying the orders rather than autonomous individuals making their own decisions. The soldiers would not have been in an autonomous state, and would have therefore be more able to carry out the orders given to them by an authority figure. This may have been because the soldiers were under the impressions that they would not be held responsible for their actions hence they thought it was acceptable to torture the Iraqi detainees as well as degrading them in the process.

The study that supports this theory is Milgram’s study of obedience. In Milgram’s experiment participants, who were the ‘teachers’, were wiling to electrocute other participants, who were the ‘learners’, if they provided incorrect answers to what the ‘teachers’ asked them, when being coaxed to do so by an authority figure. Therefore this suggests the soldiers would be prepared to obey...

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