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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 ...

Beaten to Death
Beaten to Death

A young man in his early twenties – I will call him Billy – was serving time at an American state prison for possession of a few grams of crack cocaine. Because of mandatory minimum sentencing laws in the United States, he was serving a 16-year sentence for this offense. The prison in which he was serving time was overcrowded and understaffed, which is typical of most prisons. One day, at evening roll call, a female prison guard accused him of masturbating beneath the sheets. Billy denied it. If the accusation was true, the prison guard was obligated to write him up, but not punish him in any other way. She did not write him up. Instead, she began beating him with her baton to the point ...

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