Cultures of Violence: Interpersonal Violence in Historical by S. Carroll

By S. Carroll

Thinkers and historians have lengthy perceived violence and its regulate as essential to the very inspiration of 'Western Civilization'. concentrating on interpersonal violence and the massive position it performed in human affairs within the post-medieval West, this well timed assortment brings jointly the newest interdisciplinary and old learn within the box.

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64 Was Jean Riencourt’s jape really so innocent? The evidence from France suggests that much seemingly innocent tomfoolery was purposely designed to provoke a showdown with someone with whom one was already in enmity. Passion and rational calculation co-existed. But we can go further than this in questioning how far undeveloped rural societies were characterized by banal acts of expressive violence. In an organic economy where resources are scarce and demographic pressures bulk large the right to pasture, to have access to water and to the commons, to glean, hunt, forage and collect wood are matters of life and death.

As François took a cooked pear from a dish, Jean jokingly grabbed his hand and squeezed it. François in turn threw the squashed pulp at Jean’s head and soiled his doublet. ’ Jean retorted ‘if you mean that, I say you lie’. 59 The trained observer will note that this is a dispute shaped by the conventions of honour: Jean, a young gentlemen, is humiliated and insulted in front of other persons of honour; he does what a man must do in such circumstances and gives his cousin the lie, the most serious charge one gentlemen can make of another; François’s resort to violence is inevitable and expected.

Handguns are only part of the equation. Homicide rates were already high before gun ownership became widespread: nineteenth-century Americans did just as well with knives, clubs and axes. 71 And even when suspects are apprehended, juries are much more tolerant of people who resort to violence: the plea of self-defence is interpreted much more widely than it would be in England, a country with a similar legal system. Put simply, in the United States it is easier to get away with murder, the risks lower: in nineteenth-century New York only about half of murder suspects were arrested, only about half of these suspects were tried and only half of those tried were convicted.

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