U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Violence and Boredom

NCJ Number
Kriminologisches Journal Volume: 14 Issue: 4 Dated: (1982) Pages: 254-276
N Klinkmann
Date Published
23 pages
This essay differentiates rational violence performed for a purpose and the phenomenon of apparently irrational physical torture and destruction to which urban juvenile gangs have been known to resort. It seeks to explain the cause of the latter behavior with reference to existential philosophy and phenomenology.
The argument rejects instinctual drives as insufficient explanation for unmotivated physical violence and draws instead upon the concepts of 'culture' and 'action.' The physical and social aspects of the deteriorating urban environment are viewed as a setting unrelated to any of the traditional values and behavioral norms, and in which individuals fail to identify a rationalization or indeed a role for themselves. Without a cultural orientation, goals, motivation, involvement, or a sense of belonging to the communal whole, young urbanites experience a boredom so intense that it precipitates a need to reassert one's existence through deliberate, existential action. Because it springs from boredom within a cultural void, the existential act takes destructive, senseless forms in a misdirected effort to establish subgroup norms and reinstate a relationship between one's self and the external world. These insights indicate that far greater attention should be paid by cultural institutions to the intellectual stimulation of urban youths to promote their sense of belonging and involvement as alternative experiences of 'action' and 'excitement.'