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Violence, Aggression, & Coercive Actions

NCJ Number
James T. Tedeschi; Richard B. Felson
Date Published
475 pages
This book focuses on direct, face-to-face confrontations between individuals in which threats are made or where one of the individuals attempts to impose some form of harm on the other.
This book is divided into four parts. In Part 1, chapters 1 through 5, biological, psychological, and sociological approaches that have a bearing on face-to-face confrontations are critically evaluated. Part 2 presents a social interactionist theory of coercive behavior. A critical analysis in chapter 6 leads the reader to abandon the concept of aggression and substitute a language of coercive actions. A social interactionist theory of coercive actions is a theory of rational choice. Chapters 7 through 9 emphasize the decisionmaking process and focus on the three goals of coercive actions: to gain compliance, to restore justice, and to assert and defend identities. Those who use coercion to achieve compliance are motivated to gain the commodities, services, and safety that the target can mediate for them. A justice motive is associated with attributions of blame, anger, and grievances and, under certain conditions, may instigate coercive episodes. Concern for social identities may also motivate individuals to use coercion as a self-presentational tactic. Part 3 includes chapters 10 and 11 extend the theory to explain the use of coercion by parents against their children and to various forms of sexual coercion. The epilogue in part 4 provides a concise summary of the overall theory, discusses individual differences that contribute both to the frequency and intensity of coercive actions, and focuses on some central disputes and similarities between a social interactionist theory and more traditional theories of aggression, violence, and criminal behavior. References, author and subject index