Academic journal article International Journal on World Peace

The Causes and Consequences of Group Violence: From Bullies to Terrorists

Academic journal article International Journal on World Peace

The Causes and Consequences of Group Violence: From Bullies to Terrorists

Article excerpt

THE CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES OF GROUP VIOLENCE: FROM BULLIES TO TERRORISTS James Hawdon, John Ryan and Marc Lucht (eds.) Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2014 281 pages, hardcover, S95.00

The editors of this book take on the ambitious task of trying to explain group violence. As the title implies, the various authors of this chapter book divide their work into the causes of group violence (exploring both perpetrators and victims) and the consequences (on individuals, groups, and larger communities). In their introduction, editors Hawdon and Ryan outline the book as an exploration of the unknown dimensions of group violence which includes both empirical and theoretical discussions. This book does not disappoint, as the collection of writings offers a wide range of topics that are bound to interest people from a variety of backgrounds. Taken as a whole, the chapters of this book emphasize the notable gap between research, commonly held beliefs, and policy on violence. Thus, this book is a recommended read for almost everyone-social science students and scholars, law enforcement personnel, politicians-even parents.

The first chapter is written by editor James Hawdon and sets the parameters of the readings by defining violence (focussing only on direct or physical violence) and offers a typology of violence. The typology organizes the various forms of direct violence to create four distinct categories. By focussing on the actors rather than the act, Hawdon organizes the violence according to whether the victim is an individual or group, and whether the perpetrator is an individual or group. This typology organizes lynching and capital punishment together (group perpetrator-individual victim) and organizes gangs and terrorism together (group perpetrator-group victim). Many of the subsequent chapters refer to this typology and thus lend special attention to both the perpetrators and targets of violence. The following paragraphs highlight several of the many lessons from the book: how much of our knowledge is based on either faulty research, incomplete knowledge or unsubstantiated myths; how current events (such as Syria) benefit from an analysis; how current policy is not working; current trends; and news theoretical frameworks.

In the third chapter, David Kennedy investigates violence and street groups based on data gathered from the Boston Gun Project. Kennedy contests that much of the research into street gangs in the United States has resulted in skewed and faulty assumptions about the nature of street groups, their members and the communities in which they operate. For example, authentic research consistently reveals that street group members live in constant fear and experience very high levels of violence. However, the communities in which they operate do not typically support the violence. Kennedy writes: "what reads from the outside as indifference or approval is in fact profound anger, exhaustion and alienation," resulting from often longstanding alienation between communities in poverty and the law enforcement agencies that are meant to protect them.

Jeanne Chang and Alec Clott write the sixth chapter, where they explore the relationship between civil nonviolent action, violent insurrection, and state counter-insurgent activities, in the context of the current conflict in Syria. …

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