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 2: Origins of Violence
It was noted in Chapter 1 that violence appears to be more or less ubiquitous in human societies, and this is often invoked to underpin evolutionary theories of innate human aggressiveness. Those advancing theories of innate human aggression often draw on arguments based on human evolution from pre-human primates where a capacity for violence is linked to primal hunting and defence of territory. Such arguments often refer to present-day ‘hunter-gatherer’ societies to derive evidence of innate human propensities. There is an argument that runs like this. Humans share around 98 per cent of their DNA with chimpanzees and around 6 million years ago had a common primate ancestor.1 Chimpanzees are not the peaceable animals they were once thought to be, ...