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Violence: A Micro-Sociological Theory (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 3. August 2009

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Winner of the 2011 Distinguished Scholarly Publication Award, American Sociological Association "Collins's Violence is a sourcebook for the oft-ignored and usually unseen obvious: We humans are bad at violence, even if civilization makes us a bit better at it."--David D. Laitin, Science "Violence is a rare academic work, with both a convincing reappraisal of its scholarly terrain, and enough accessibility and useful advice to attract laymen. The writing is clear and direct--sometimes with a welcome touch of the colloquial--and well illustrated with photographs and charts."--Graeme Wood, New York Sun "Offering a wealth of observations...Randall Collins's overall theory is neat: violence is not easy, hence relatively rare. It is a compelling argument."--Jane Kilby, Times Higher Education "Insofar as his analysis has sought to highlight its micro-situational aspects, he must be applauded. In the future, only interdisciplinary research will be able to approach this topic with the same vigor, and coherence as Collins has provided us in this book."--Paul Armstrong, Canadian Journal of Sociology "The book is a superb commentary on how the emotional energy created by the situation of forward panic produces violence... Collin's exhaustive treatment of the forward panic is a major contribution to the literature and the term is certain to become a standard part of our vocabulary on violence."--John M. Hagedorn, Anthropos "Professor Collins has initiated a much needed discussion of violence, unencumbered by myth and make-believe... After reading this excellent and highly readable volume, there are few myths left remain standing!"--P. A. J. Waddington, Policing "[T]he book is a notable attempt to develop a general sociological theory of interpersonal violence, and anyone interested in violence and peace can learn a great deal from it."--Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, Journal of Peace Research "[A] deeply learned, thoughtful, and erudite book... [T]he complexity of thought and the clarity of exposition of this first volume leave the reader both fulfilled and eager. Like the greatest of classical sociological thinkers, Collins is both pointillist and abstract expressionist, synthesizing micro and macro, and always asserting the power of the social."--Michael Kimmel, American Journal of Sociology "Violence overturns standard views about the root causes of violence and offers solutions for confronting it in the future."--World Book Industry


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 in Violence, 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. Violence overturns standard views about the root causes of violence and offers solutions for confronting it in the future. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

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19 von 20 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Unification of violence 4. Mai 2008
Von Allan Mazur - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Collins offers a comprehensive explanation of face-to-face (i.e., micro-social) violence in all situations, including spousal abuse, warfare, riots, murder, and sporting events. In 500 pages of analysis, he draws on video and photographic images, personal and ethnographic accounts, classic literature, history and personal observation, to find common patterns among the diverse situations in which humans physically injure other humans.
Collins's primary assertion is that people rarely act violently, that virtually everyone is reluctant to damage another person. The reason is that violent confrontation is fraught with tension and fear, which act as a protective emotional barrier against inflicting harm or being harmed. Collins regards this confrontational tension/fear as hardwired into the human brain. When violence does occur, tension and fear usually ensure that attacks are brief and incompetent. Terrified riflemen on a battlefield are unlikely to hit a target, if they shoot at all; clashing gang members are more bluff and bluster than lethal attackers. This picture completely contradicts the portrayal in action movies, where violence is perpetrated easily and efficiently, often over extended periods, usually free of anxiety.
Given the emotional barrier to violence, Collins asks, how does violence occur at all? He answers that the perpetrator must follow one of a few "pathways" that lead around the barrier of confrontational tension and into a "tunnel of violence." One such pathway, according to Collins, is to attack a weak victim. Audience encouragement is another pathway to violence, rather like the mob in the Coliseum urging on its favored gladiators, or bystanders shouting encouragement to students in a fistfight, or fans at a college football game. "Forward panic," a third path, is Collins's most intriguing contribution. These pathways lead into a "tunnel of violence" through which the perpetrator is entrained into actions that he would normally not commit.
This is an erudite yet highly readable synthesis of enormously diverse kinds of violence, but most grabbing are the individual analyses of each category of violence. The pages turn very quickly.
8 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Applied Social Science 22. April 2010
Von James D. Williams - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
I've admired Randy Collins' work for several years because of his willingness to examine human actions at the micro level, not just the macro level. His previous book, INTERACTIONAL RITUAL CHAINS, was a remarkable investigation of interpersonal dynamics from a fresh perspective. VIOLENCE likewise offers a different way of looking at and understanding human behavior--in this instance, one of its more troubling facets. Thoroughly researched and generally well written, the book is applied social science at its best, and I recommend it highly. Collins rightly dismisses the social constructivist view that violence emerges out of a person's history--a disadvantaged home life, childhood abuse, etc.--and focuses on the particular situations that give rise to violence. Doing so enables him to explain not just those acts of violence committed by "bad" people but also those committed by "good" people, such as police officers and soldiers. He argues convincingly that a person's history does not predict acts of violence; rather there are a number of factors that come together at a particular time and place to trigger a violent act.

I will say, however, that VIOLENCE is not as well written as RITUAL CHAINS. There is a great deal of repetition, especially in the first several chapters, that a good copy editor (where have they all gone?) would have eliminated. I found the repetition annoying, which is why I did not give the book five stars. Perhaps other readers will be able to overlook this issue, but given the brilliance of Collins' previous work, I know he (and his pubisher) can do better.
11 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Putting the violent situation in the focus 30. April 2008
Von M. Schaeffer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I think Collins adds a very interesting perspective to the debate about violence. It is an analysis of the situation in which the violence happens. It is a very limited perspective that neglects a lot of other factors such as poverty. But I think it is a great if one reads his book as addition to the already established theories instead of a counter argument.
Problematic about the book is that the theory draws heavily on Collins' general action Theory (Interactional Ritual Chains) and it might be difficult to understand where he is coming from if one is not familiar with this earlier work. Also I think the book is unnecessarily long. He could have put the argument more on point. There are some other flaws in the argument I think.

However this is only the first of two books. For adding an analysis of the situation, the book is very worth reading!

About the first comment I want to say the following things: Firstly it is wrong that the book is purely descriptive. Collins is one of the sociologists who always tried to engage in explanatory social sciences. Even if it was, that does not mean it was bad sociology, because to introduce a new way categorize is a very valuable thing as Luhmann has taught us. And thirdly there is no clear border between description and explanation. I think the comment was rather stupid and non-elaborated because it gave no explanation of its judgment.
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Making sense of so much 28. Januar 2009
Von Noumenon - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
I'd been waiting for a "sequel" to Dave Grossman's On Killing to see if it held up, and this is it. Collins makes sense of why soldiers so infrequently fired their weapons in World War II by showing that violence is difficult in any situation where the opponents are evenly matched. It takes a safe environment like a limited schoolyard fight or a massive mismatch like a driveby shooting for violence to be easy.

You also come away with a different view of human nature after reading the book. You begin to think that what separates humans from animals might not be language or tools after all, but our capacity for emotional mirroring. Collins' book makes the world look kindler and gentler even when he's discussing the ugliest violence, because he shows how unnatural it is for us and how the situation has to be just right for it to occur.

After being raised in American culture with its love for violence from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to SWAT teams, it's really interesting to find out that it's all based on macho and bluster. Reading this book is like someone raised in Sparta going to modern-day Sweden and finding out the world isn't innately violent after all.
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Prodigious Research 24. Januar 2012
Von F. J. West - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
An astonishing amount of research is presented in a readable narrative. This book must be in the library of any serious military historian. The scholarship is most impressive.
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