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Oxford University Press - Online Resource Centres

Hale et al: Criminology 3e

Chapter 9: Chapter synopses

The chapter provides an overview of criminological and sociological analyses of violence. The sociological analysis of violence has tended to focus on criminal forms especially homicide, assault, child abuse, sexual violence and intimate violence and as a result it is argued it lacks overall theoretical coherence. Violence tends to be an extreme emotional experience as Norbert Elias (1897-1990) postulated in her "civilising process" theory. With these theories in mind the chapter goes on to look at patterns of violence and presents summary data on the prevalence of violence in the United Kingdom. There are four types of violence considered:

  1. Domestic violence ? including all violent incidents involving partners, ex-partners, household members or other relatives
  2. Mugging ? comprising robbery, attempted robbery and snatch from the person
  3. Acquaintance violence ? includes wounding and assaults in which the victim knew one or more of the offenders, at least by sight
  4. Stranger violence ? includes common assaults and wounding in which the victim did not know the offenders in any way

There appears to be a gender difference amongst perpetrators of violence and victims of violence. Males tend to be overrepresented in all the types of violence considered, although there is a rising trend of conviction of women in the same areas. The chapter gives an overview of the attempts to explain male violence including:

  • Evolutionary lag
  • Social theories and "hegemonic masculinities"
  • Crisis of masculinity

Whilst males tend to be overrepresented in the types of violence considered above, women tend to be overrepresented as victims of crime in private spheres including physical assault, rape and sexual violence, psychological or emotional violence, torture, financial abuse including dowry-related violence, and control of movement and of social contacts. The chapter considers the early problems of such actions not being seen as crime and the reasons for changes in attitudes.

Just as the prevalence of violence against women has increased so too has racist violence. The chapter looks at what constitutes racist violence and its cognitive, cultural and social explanations.

Of all violence, homicide is the most serious. The chapter assess the forms it takes and which cultural groups are most likely to be overrepresented as victims and perpetrators.

Taking all of these examples of violence as a whole the chapter concludes that unless one unravels the complex links between social, economic and cultural reproduction, gender socialization and the intersecting dimensions of identity and class, an understanding of how violence is embedded in everyday life cannot be achieved.