violence


violence
   Violence is a pervasive and enduring aspect of all societies and takes many forms from politically motivated violence (terrorism) to ‘common’ assault or rape, and can be directed against the person or property. In Britain, political violence has taken and takes different forms, from the bombing campaigns of the Provisional IRA and the street violence of the fascist British National Party to the violent clashes between strikers and police during the miners’ strike of 1984–5. Other forms of violence include collective forms such as football hooliganism or riots, and individual ones such as muggings, rape and murder and the violence associated with ‘gang culture’ and the illegal drugs trade. A less commonly acknowledged form of violence is the legitimate institutionalized organization of violence by the state in the form of the police and the armed forces. In common with all states, the British state claims, in the words of Max Weber, a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence, and it is the latter which constitutes the ultimate authority of the state and its agencies.
   A simple way of analysing violence, useful for distinguishing ‘political’ from ‘ordinary’ violence, is to determine who or what is the perpetrator, who or what is the victim and what is the reason for the violence. However, the distinction between political and ordinary violence is extremely porous; for example, many feminists have claimed that rape is a form of political violence since it is the ultimate means by which women are exploited and subjugated in a sexist, patriarchal society. A similar argument is often used to explain racial violence on ethnic minorities and the past violent reaction of black and Asian communities to perceived police racism and harassment in the inner city riots of Brixton and Liverpool in the early 1980s. Violent crimes have been on the increase in Britain over the past decade, and recently there has been a good deal of support for the argument that socio-economic inequality, unemployment and deprivation are the major cause of crime and violence. However, the strict regulation of personal firearms makes Britain a less violent society than others, such as the USA.
   Just as important as violence itself is the threat of violence, and on this measure many people feel that Britain is a more violent society. For some, this is due to a ‘culture of risk’ in which people in advanced societies feel increasingly insecure, unsafe and fearful, as a result of the decline in community and solidarity and the rise of a materialistic and individualistic culture which, in the context of an absence of sufficient means to take part in this consumerist lifestyle (without enough jobs or money to go round), explains the rise in violence.
   Further reading
    Burton, J.W. (1997) Violence Explained: The Sources of Conflict, Violence and Crime and their Prevention, Manchester: Manchester University Press.
    Honderich, T. (1977) Three Essays on Political Violence, Oxford: Blackwell.
   JOHN BARRY

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • VIOLENCE — Comme agressivité et combativité, la violence est au principe des actions humaines individuelles ou collectives. Comme destructivité, elle menace continuellement la stabilité des relations des hommes entre eux, que ce soit en politique intérieure …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Violence — • The stimulus or moving cause must come from without; no one can do violence to himself Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Violence     Violence      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Violence — Vi o*lence, n. [F., fr. L. violentia. See {Violent}.] 1. The quality or state of being violent; highly excited action, whether physical or moral; vehemence; impetuosity; force. [1913 Webster] That seal You ask with such a violence, the king, Mine …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • violence — Violence. subst. fem. Qualité de ce qui est violent. La violence des vents, de la tempeste, du mal, de la douleur, d un remede, &c. la violence de son humeur. Violence, signifie aussi, La force dont on use contre le droit commun, contre les loix …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • violence — Violence, Violentia, Vis. La violence et cours d une oraison, Incitatio orationis. Faire violence à aucun, Vim et manus alicui inferre, vel afferre, Faþcere vim alicui. Oster par force et violence, Per oppressionem eripere. Avec violence et force …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • violence — I noun assault, attack, brutality, clash, convulsion, disorder, eruption, explosion, ferocity, force, fracas, furiousness, fury, inclemency, manus, onslaught, outburst, rage, rampage, ruthlessness, savagery, severity, unlawful force, vehemence,… …   Law dictionary

  • violence — [vī′ə ləns] n. [ME < MFr < L violentia < violentus: see VIOLENT] 1. physical force used so as to injure, damage, or destroy; extreme roughness of action 2. intense, often devastatingly or explosively powerful force or energy, as of a… …   English World dictionary

  • Violence — Vi o*lence, v. t. To assault; to injure; also, to bring by violence; to compel. [Obs.] B. Jonson. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • violence — (n.) late 13c., physical force used to inflict injury or damage, from Anglo Fr. and O.Fr. violence, from L. violentia vehemence, impetuosity, from violentus vehement, forcible, probably related to violare (see VIOLATION (Cf. violation)). Weakened …   Etymology dictionary

  • violence — *force, compulsion, coercion, duress, constraint, restraint Analogous words: vehemence, intensity, fierceness (see corresponding adjectives at INTENSE): *effort, exertion, pains, trouble: *attack, assault, onslaught, onset …   New Dictionary of Synonyms


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.