While nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer, nothing is more difficult than to understand him.
Fyodor Dostoevsky
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The choice today is no longer between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence.
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Street gangs and warfare. Police brutality and genocide. Domestic abuse and riots. What are the dynamics underlying these and other forms of violence? What do they have in common? How do they differ? This course takes violence in its many forms as a topic for sociological analysis. With this in mind, we will compare different theoretical perspectives on violence and conflict, such as biological, psychological, social psychological, and socio-cultural perspectives.

Topics Included:
  • Introduction to Violence
  • Theoretical Perspectives on Violence
  • Comparing Theoretical Perspectives: Understanding Serial Killers
  • Gender and Violence
  • Creating a Killer
  • Fear and Social Control
  • Faces of the Enemy: Legitimizing Violence Through Dehumanization
  • Seminar Discussion: Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic
  • Intergroup Conflict
  • Aggression and Obedience to Authority
  • Institutional Violence and Police Brutality
  • Collective Behavior: Crowds, Lynchings, Riots, and Mass Suicide
  • A Micro-Interactional Analysis of Violent Behavior
  • Seminar Discussion: Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor's Story of Life and Death in the People's Temple
  • Hate Crime
  • Systems of Violence: Domestic Violence
  • Cultural Fascination and Violence
  • Economic Violence
  • Political Systems and the Military-Industrial Complex
  • Terrorism
  • Seminar Discussion: Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings