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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