SOC110 – Violence: Nature VS Nurture

Abstract

Violence can seem very personal and easily attributed to biological tendencies. The recent trend in mass shootings have often been explained by issues related to mental health. It’s easy to blame the individual for acts of violence, but that’s only one way of looking at violence. In sociology, violence actually takes many different forms from verbal to physical to symbolic to systemic. And sociologists have interesting theories to explain why violence occurs. This week we discuss the classic debate of nature VS nurture in regards to violence, and how theorists have posited that there is no such thing as violent individuals, but simply violent situations. Join us as we pick apart this gnarly debate!

Keywords

Sociology, violence, nature, nurture, psychopaths, collective violence, mob violence

Resources

  1. Defining violence by Elizabeth Stanko (2001) 

Violence is “any form of behaviour by an individual that intentionally threatens to or does cause physical, sexual or psychological harm to others or themselves”

  1. Texas Shooter’s History Raises Questions About Mental Health And Mass Murder (NPR 2017)
  2. Symbolic Violence
    1. Pierre Bourdieu’s (1979) Distinction“It is the violence which is exercised upon a social agent with his or her complicity” 
  3. Structural Violence
    1. Johan Galtung’s Violence, Peace, and Peace Research” (1969)a form of violence wherein some social structure or social institution may harm people by preventing them from meeting their basic needs.”
  4. Hawaii Still Has a Leprosy Colony With Six Patients (The Daily Beast 2015)
  5. Donald Black’s (2010) The Behavior of Law, Special Edition
  6. Donald Black’s (2011) Moral Time
  7. Donald Black’s (2004) The Geometry of Terrorism


    “Violence might appear to be an unpredictable outburst or unexplainable explosion, but it arises with geometrical precision. It is unpredictable and unexplainable only if we seek its origins in the characteristics of individuals (such as their beliefs or frustrations) or in the characteristics of societies, communities, or other collectivities (such as their cultural values or level of inequality). But violent individuals and violent collectivities do not exist: No individual or collectivity is violent in all settings at all times, and neither individualistic nor collectivistic theories predict and explain precisely when and how violence occurs”

  8. Randal Collins’ (2009) Violence: A Micro-sociological Theory

    “violence is a set of pathways around confrontational tension and fear. Despite their bluster, and even in situations of apparently uncontrollable anger, people are tense and often fearful in the immediate threat of violence—including their own violence; this is the emotional dynamic that determines what they will do if fighting actually breaks out.”  

  9. Youths and Gun Violence: Chicago’s Challenge
  10. Nature vs Nurture in regards to violence
    1. Bad to the Bone: Are Humans Naturally Aggressive? 
    2. Why We Fight
  11. The violent gene
    1. Two genes linked with violent crime
    2. A Gene For Violence? 
  12. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry (Jon Ronson 2012) 
  13. The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain (James Fallon 2014) 
  14. Does Media Violence Lead to the Real Thing? 
  15. 2011 Stanley Cup Riot – Riots erupt in Vancouver after Canucks loss (CBC News 2011)
  16. Racism, A History 1 – Slavery To Segregation 
  17. Turner and Killian’s (1987) Collective Behavior
  18. Honolulu first US city to ban texting while crossing road 
  19. Top 5 Misconceptions About Columbus 
  20. The Truth About Thanksgiving: What They Never Taught You in School

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SOC107 – Who You Gonna Call? The Crimebusters!

Abstract

Sociologists might not be able to make a time machine, but we’re certainly good at mythbusting! Social mythbusting that is! Our first topic to bust: Crime. Citizens of any society have preconceived notions of crime, and these ideas can tell us something about the dominant social order, morality, and normative behavior. So, let’s discuss! Are we living in the most violent time? Trump wants to blame everything on “undocumented criminals,” but are undocumented immigrants accountable for a large portion of crime? Oh– and prison/jail, that’s the same thing, right?

Keywords

Crime, criminology, criminal justice system

Resources

    1. Criminology by Edwin Sutherland (1974) defines the field as, “the study of law making, breaking, and law enforcement.”
    2. Franklin Zimring’s (2011) book, The City That Became Safe: New York’s Lessons for Urban Crime and Its Control (Studies in Crime and Public Policy) outlines the huge drop in crime in New York City.
    3. Another good source on the national crime drop is Steven Pinker’s (2011) The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
    4. Lorna Rhodes’ Total Confinement: Madness and Reason in the Maximum Security Prison (California Series in Public Anthropology) (2004) talks about how detrimental incarceration is on humans.
    5. Definition of Antisociality: “a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, [and] the rights of others” (American Psychiatric Association)
    6. Trump’s false dialogue on immigrants (Washington Post)

      “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

    7.  Immigrants do not actually commit more crimes than native-born Americans.
      a.Contrary to Trump’s Claims, Immigrants Are Less Likely to Commit Crimes
      b. The Mythical Link Between Immigrants and High Crime Rates
      c. Immigration Myths – Crime and the Number of Illegal Immigrants

      “both illegal immigrants and legal immigrants have incarceration rates far below those of native-born Americans—at 0.85 percent, 0.47 percent, and 1.53 percent, respectively….Immigration restrictionists cannot have it both ways. They cannot assume that illegal immigrants are super-criminals and that their population in the United States is several times higher than it really is. No matter how you dice the numbers, their incarceration rate falls as their estimated population increases. For consistency’s sake, it’s time for immigration restrictionists to choose which myth they want to believe.” (“The first myth is that illegal immigrants are especially crime-prone. The second myth is that there are actually two to three times as many illegal immigrants as is commonly reported.”)

    8. Statistics on the crimes committed by incarcerated population
    9. “Stronger Hand for Judges in the ‘Bazaar’ of Plea Deals”(New York Times) talks about how 97% of Federal cases and 94% of state cases are plead out.
    10. Our suggested texts if you’re interested in criminology:
      a. Amy Bach’s (2010) Ordinary Injustice: How America Holds Court
      b. Michelle Alexander’s (2012) The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

      c. Marcus Rediker’s (2008) The Slave Ship: A Human History
      d. Robert Perkinson’s (2010) Texas Tough (The Tylers of Texas)