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Violence and Society
30 March 2011
Kent, University of
A new book by Larry Ray, Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent, examines the meaning and representations of violent behaviour in contemporary culture and throughout history.
Titled Violence and Society, Professor Ray’s book examines different levels of violence, including interpersonal, institutional and collective, as well as its different forms, such as racist crime, homophobic crime and genocide.
Introducing and expanding on many of the major debates surrounding this issue, Violence and Society offers a wide-ranging and integrated account of the many manifestations of violence in society, as well as providing a succinct and comprehensive overview of its nature and effects. It also considers the wide-range of solutions and conflict resolutions involved in responses to violence.
For the book, Professor Ray has drawn from sociology, criminology, primate studies and archaeology to shed light on arguments about the social construction and innate nature of violence.
He said: ‘Violence is ubiquitous in human societies and lies deep in human history. This has prompted debate over many centuries as to whether violence or at least aggression is innate in the human condition. However, there is continuing evidence of rising thresholds of repugnance towards violence – governments do not necessarily gain public support for involvement in regional wars, many forms of institutionalised violence such as corporal and capital punishment have been abolished in Europe, the everyday violences in families are increasingly placed under public scrutiny and intervention, and there is increased awareness of and compassion towards the suffering of strangers.
‘With this book I hope to explore not just the causes of violence in human societies but also to promote a better understanding of how violence can be addressed, managed or contained. However, a central theme in this study is the close though complex relationship between many manifestations of violence and multiple social inequalities both within nations and globally. These are likely to be intensified by the effects of the present crises and governmental responses to them. There is therefore a vital need to find alternatives to these responses.’
Professor Ray is a leading figure in the field of sociological theory with globalisation, postcommunism, memory and violence among his research interests. His interest in the sociology of violence and his work on 'hate crime' legislation and its effectiveness, along with the politics of hate movements, has led to collaborations with the Probation Service, Home Office, Ministry of Justice and other public sector bodies. He is a member of the University’s School of Social Policy, Sociology, and Social Research (SSPSSR).
Violence and Society is published by Sage Publications Ltd on 31 March.