In this compelling and timely book, Violence and Society, Larry Ray offers a wide-ranging and integrated account of the many manifestations of violence in society. He examines violent behavior and its meanings in contemporary culture and throughout history.

Introducing the major theoretical debates, the book examines different levels of violence – interpersonal, institutional and collective – and different forms of violence such as racist crime, homophobic crime and genocide. It provides readers with a succinct and comprehensive overview of its nature and effects, and the solutions and conflict resolutions involved in responses to violence.

Interdisciplinary in its approach, the text draws on evidence from sociology, criminology, primate studies and archaeology to shed light on arguments about the social construction and innate nature of violence. Engaging, wide-reaching and authoritative, this is essential reading for students, academics and researchers in sociology, criminology, social psychology and cultural studies.

Introduction

Introduction

Only when you get into violence and its logic can you see the heart of darkness at the centre of … civilization. (Gilligan 2000: 259)

This book develops a broad sociological and theoretical engagement with violence in different contexts, including violence perpetrated between individuals, by states and through unequal social structures. It further takes a long view of historical and contemporary violence in society and aims to offer an approach that crosses some traditional divisions in this area. My thinking about violence arose in part from working on post-communist transformations and particularly the ethno-nationalist civil wars in the former Yugoslavia. Whatever the multiple socioeconomic conditions for this violence, it was also apparent that these conflicts had profound roots in the ritual and local politics of ...

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