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Norms are usually understood as rules guiding behavior in a group or society. They are social constructs that constrain individual action by prescribing or prohibiting certain behavioral options. Based on perceptions of situational cues, actors decide whether particular norms apply in a certain context. Normative expectations activate sociocultural scripts that provide structure—and thus security—in a situation. Interactions in war create what can be analyzed as social “spaces of violence,” a concept elaborated by historian Jörg Baberowski. These spaces can open up terrifying possibilities to evade norms that stabilize society in peacetime while they also impose their own rules on actors. Under these circumstances, the distinction between in- and out-groups is crucial, as its normative implications to a large extent determine restraint or brutality in ...

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