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Collective Violence: Harmful Behavior in Groups and Governments

NCJ Number
Craig Summers, Eric Markusen
Date Published
267 pages
This collection of papers presents a range of theoretical and disciplinary approaches to the subject of collective violence, i.e., situations in which people are measurably harmed by the joint contributions of others.
Under the proposed definition of "collective violence" used in this collection of papers, the number of perpetrators can range from a small group to an entire society. The number and type of victims can also range widely: a gang attack on a single person; people losing property or their means of livelihood because of destruction during a riot; or harm to an entire population or ethnic group. Instances of collective violence can vary along a continuum from spontaneous actions to premeditated, planned mass killing projects. The chapters in this book extend the previous scholarly literature on collective violence by exploring psychological and social dimensions of individual participation in a variety of relatively recent events, including the 1992 videotaped police beating of black motorist Rodney King; the riots that followed in inner-city Los Angeles; the victimization of the native population in Canada over the past century; the continuing inequities in the treatment and well-being of African-Americans; group violence in the contemporary prison system; terrorist actions; and cases of genocide in Cambodia, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia. The contributors represent a variety of academic disciplines and use a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods. The chapters are divided into two parts. The first, "Understanding the Sources of Collective Violence: Empirical and Theoretical Work," focuses on documenting some of the psychosocial aspects of collective violence. The second part of the book, "Responding to the Problem of Collective Violence," provides a proactive ending to the book, leading from social psychology to policy implications for avoiding or anticipating collective violence. Chapter references and a subject index


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