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.
Chapter 1: What Is Violence?
What Is Violence?
The social context for both the performance and understanding of violence is of central importance. One often hears the term ‘senseless violence’, in cases where a serious violent incident was apparently unprovoked or has arisen from ‘insignificant’ insults or altercation. The notion of ‘senseless’ violence is, by implication, contrasted to some other ‘reasonable’ kind, or perhaps suggests that what we find repugnant needs to be placed beyond the bound of sense. Most people probably have a tacit conception of what constitutes a reasonable response to offence or provocation – so, for example, a fatal shooting following an altercation over a parking place appears inexplicable and senseless. Yet many acts of extreme violence occur in response to apparently minor incidents and ...