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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-08-03
  • Publisher: Princeton Univ Pr

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In the popular misconception fostered by blockbuster action movies and best-selling thrillers--not to mention conventional explanations by social scientists--violence is easy under certain conditions, like poverty, racial or ideological hatreds, or family pathologies. Randall Collins challenges this view inViolence, arguing that violent confrontation goes against human physiological hardwiring. It is the exception, not the rule--regardless of the underlying conditions or motivations. Collins gives a comprehensive explanation of violence and its dynamics, drawing upon video footage, cutting-edge forensics, and ethnography to examine violent situations up close as they actually happen--and his conclusions will surprise you. Violence comes neither easily nor automatically. Antagonists are by nature tense and fearful, and their confrontational anxieties put up a powerful emotional barrier against violence. Collins guides readers into the very real and disturbing worlds of human discord--from domestic abuse and schoolyard bullying to muggings, violent sports, and armed conflicts. He reveals how the fog of war pervades all violent encounters, limiting people mostly to bluster and bluff, and making violence, when it does occur, largely incompetent, often injuring someone other than its intended target. Collins shows how violence can be triggered only when pathways around this emotional barrier are presented. He explains why violence typically comes in the form of atrocities against the weak, ritualized exhibitions before audiences, or clandestine acts of terrorism and murder--and why a small number of individuals are competent at violence. Violenceoverturns standard views about the root causes of violence and offers solutions for confronting it in the future.

Author Biography

Randall Collins is the Dorothy Swaine Thomas Professor of Sociology and a member of the department of criminology at the University of Pennsylvania. His books include Interaction Ritual Chains (Princeton) and The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Tablesp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
The Micro-sociology of Violent Confrontationsp. 1
Violent Situationsp. 1
Micro-evidence: Situational Recordings, Reconstructions, and Observationsp. 3
Comparing Situations across Types of Violencep. 8
Fight Mythsp. 10
Violent Situations Are Shaped by an Emotional Field of Tension and Fearp. 19
Alternative Theoretical Approachesp. 20
Historical Evolution of Social Techniques for Controlling Confrontational Tensionp. 25
Sourcesp. 29
Previewp. 32
The Complementarity of Micro and Macro Theoriesp. 34
The Dirty Secrets of Violencep. 37
Confrontational Tension and Incompetent Violencep. 39
Brave, Competent and Evenly Matched?p. 39
The Central Reality: Confrontational Tensionp. 41
Tension/Fear and Non-performance in Military Combatp. 43
Low Fighting Competencep. 57
Friendly Fire and Bystander Hitsp. 59
Joy of Combat: Under What Conditions?p. 66
The Continuum of Tension/Fear and Combat Performancep. 68
Confrontational Tension in Policing and Non-Military Fightingp. 70
Fear of What?p. 73
Forward Panicp. 83
Confrontational Tension and Release: Hot Rush, Piling On, Overkillp. 89
Atrocities of Warp. 94
Caveat: The Multiple Causation of Atrocitiesp. 99
Asymmetrical Entrainment of Forward Panic and Paralyzed Victimsp. 102
Forward Panics and One-Sided Casualties in Decisive Battlesp. 104
Atrocities of Peacep. 112
Crowd Violencep. 115
Demonstrators and Crowd-Control Forcesp. 121
The Crowd Multiplierp. 128
Alternatives to Forward Panicp. 132
Attacking the Weak: I. Domestic Abusep. 134
The Emotional Definition of the Situationp. 134
Background and Foreground Explanationsp. 135
Abusing the Exceptionally Weak: Time-patterns from Normalcy to Atrocityp. 137
Three Pathways: Normal Limited Conflict, Severe Forward Panic, and Terroristic Torture Regimep. 141
Negotiating Interactional Techniques of Violence and Victimhoodp. 148
Attacking the Weak: II. Bullying, Mugging, and Holdupsp. 156
The Continuum of Total Institutionsp. 165
Muggings and Holdupsp. 174
Battening on Interactional Weaknessp. 186
Cleaned-up and Staged Violencep. 191
Staging Fair Fightsp. 193
Hero versus Herop. 194
Audience Supports and Limits on Violencep. 198
Fighting Schools and Fighting Mannersp. 207
Displaying Risk and Manipulating Danger in Sword and Pistol Duelsp. 212
The Decline of Elite Dueling and Its Replacement by the Gunfightp. 220
Honor without Fairness: Vendettas as Chains of Unbalanced Fightsp. 223
Ephemeral Situational Honor and Leap-Frog Escalation to One-Gun Fightsp. 226
Behind the Facade of Honor and Disrespectp. 229
The Cultural Prestige of Fair and Unfair Fightsp. 237
Violence as Fun and Entertainmentp. 242
Moral Holidaysp. 243
Looting and Destruction as Participation Sustainersp. 245
The Wild Party as Elite Potlatchp. 253
Carousing Zones and Boundary Exclusion Violencep. 256
End-Resisting Violencep. 259
Frustrated Carousing and Stirring up Effervescencep. 261
Paradox: Why Does Most Intoxication Not Lead to Violence?p. 263
The One-Fight-Per-Venue Limitationp. 270
Fighting as Action and Funp. 274
Mock Fights and Mosh Pitsp. 277
Sports Violencep. 282
Sports as Dramatically Contrived Conflictsp. 283
Game Dynamics and Player Violencep. 285
Winning by Practical Skills for Producing Emotional Energy Dominancep. 296
The Timing of Player Violence: Loser-Frustration Fights and Turning-Point Fightsp. 302
Spectators' Game-Dependent Violencep. 307
Offsite Fans' Violence: Celebration and Defeat Riotsp. 311
Offsite Violence as Sophisticated Technique: Soccer Hooligansp. 315
The Dramatic Local Construction of Antagonistic Identitiesp. 324
Revolt of the Audience in the Era of Entertainers' Dominationp. 328
Dynamics and Structure of Violent Situationsp. 335
How Fights Start, or Notp. 337
Normal Limited Acrimony: Griping, Whining, Arguing, Quarrelingp. 338
Boasting and Blusteringp. 345
The Code of the Street: Institutionalized Bluster and Threatp. 348
Pathways into the Tunnel of Violencep. 360
The Violent Fewp. 370
Small Numbers of the Actively and Competently Violentp. 370
Confrontation Leaders and Action-Seekers: Policep. 375
Who Wins?p. 381
Military Snipers: Concealed and Absorbed in Techniquep. 381
Fighter Pilot Aces: Aggressively Imposing Momentump. 387
In the Zone versus the Glaze of Combat: Micro-situational Techniques of Interactional Dominancep. 399
The 9/11 Cockpit Fightp. 409
Violence as Dominance in Emotional Attention Spacep. 413
What Does the Rest of the Crowd Do?p. 413
Violence without Audiences: Professional Killers and Clandestine Violencep. 430
Confrontation-Minimizing Terrorist Tacticsp. 440
Violent Niches in Confrontational Attention Spacep. 448
Practical Conclusionsp. 463
Notesp. 467
Referencesp. 527
Indexp. 555
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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