International Perspectives on Violence

International Perspectives on Violence

International Perspectives on Violence

International Perspectives on Violence

Synopsis

Adler, Denmark, and their contributors examine the similarities and differences in violence in various countries around the world. Each chapter is written by a scholar who lived or resided in that specific country. The analysis seeks to survey the many varieties and types of violence within each individual country from an insider's point of view of the country.

Excerpt

This book is full of interesting findings and suggestions about how and why violence varies in different cultures. Only by looking at other cultures can we find out what is universal and what is variable and why, with regard to violence or anything else. Cross-cultural studies are mainly of two types—investigations of other cultures, one or a few at a time (generally using data collected by the investigator) and investigations of samples of cultures worldwide (generally using data collected by others). Both types have their advantages and disadvantages with regard to the goals of generating and testing theory. Investigation of particular cultures may suggest the causes of variation, but we still have to find ways to test the generalizability of the suggested explanations. This is because the particular cases studied may not be representative of the world, and therefore our understandings may be biased in ways that may be difficult to uncover. Thus, case studies of other cultures must be supplemented by studies of samples of cultures to minimize the possibility of culture-bound explanations. This is why social and behavioral scientists first started using data from worldwide samples of cultures to test hypotheses.

Hypotheses can be generated in the same two ways. In case studies, different investigators examine different cultures, as in this book. Over time, with many such investigations by different people with different theoretical orientations, we eventually may realize what is generally cause and what is generally effect. The other way to come up with a generally valid understanding is by developing cross-cultural measures and deliberately testing hypotheses on cross-cultural samples. This is the quicker way to determine what regularly occurs along with the characteristics of interest to us, since we also will be examining cases in which those characteristics are absent and in which, therefore, the causes should also be absent. Even many independent single-case investigations are not as likely to come up . . .

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