• Summary
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The topics of bullying and hazing have sparked interest and discussion in recent years. Hazing is a crime in the United States, and Western nations have made efforts to stamp out bullying in schools, the workplace, and institutions. However, for the most part, bullying and hazing are ill-defined and lack theoretical perspective. Mestrovic brings classical as well as contemporary social theory to bear on this discussion. Thorstein Veblen defined the predatory barbarian as the social type, enshrined by modernity, who prefers to use force over peacable means to achieve ends. On the other extreme, Marcel Mauss wrote about the spirit of the gift and its obligations – to give, to receive, and to reciprocate – as the fundamental basis of social life. Yet, he argued ...

The Problem
The Problem

It is commonly assumed, and seldom questioned, that civilization or modernity – the two terms are often used interchangeably – is the opposite of barbarism. In everyday usage, this means that as humanity becomes more modern, it should be less barbaric. After surveying the economic and political carnage and brutality of the 20th century, George Orwell questioned this assumption: “What is the special quality in modern life that makes a major human motive out of the impulse to bully others? If we could answer that question – seldom asked, never followed up – there might occasionally be a bit of good news on the front page of your morning paper.”1

Orwell was not a trained sociologist, but he raises the issue of bullying to a sociological level. It is a major ...

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