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Violence and Nonviolence

Violence and Nonviolence
Pathways to Understanding

February 2003 | 360 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

"Gregg Barak's Violence and Nonviolence is a thoughtful, comprehensive examination of violence in the United States. Structurally and conceptually this book works. Barak addresses violence in an interdisciplinary way, addressing history, psychology, biology, cultural studies, and sociology. Moreover, Barak does an excellent job of discussing the intersection of race, class, and gender and those relationships with violence."

-- Heather Melton, University of Utah


 "Clearly, the strength of this book is its comprehensive and reciprocal approach. I found this to be an enjoyable and provocative book… that treats the topic holistically and offers a vision for overcoming current patterns of violence. I am convinced that this is an important work that will ultimately be well-received by undergraduates, graduate students, violence specialists, and general readers."

 -- Mathew T. Lee, University of Akron


"I think that the strengths of this book are twofold: Barak's approach disaggregates violence into interpersonal, institutional, and structural violence which is very important yet rarely done; the latter part of the book explores the pathways to nonviolence, an underrepresented area in the study of violence."

--Charis Kubrin/Sociology, George Washington University


"I have devoted close to 20 years studying and teaching about violence and I must say that this is a comprehensive book....I strongly believe that Barak has done an outstanding review of the extant literature and touches upon key issues of central concern to those of us who are social scientific experts on violence."

--Walter Dekeseredy, Ohio University


Violence and Nonviolence: Pathways to Understanding is the first book to provide an integrative, systematic approach to the study of violence and nonviolence in one volume. Eminent scholar and award-winning author Gregg Barak examines virtually all forms of violence—from verbal abuse to genocide—and treats all of these expressions of violence as interpersonal, institutional, and structural occurrences. In the context of recovery and nonviolence, Barak addresses peace and conflict studies, legal rights, social justice, and various nonviolent movements. Employing an interdisciplinary framework, Barak emphasizes the importance of culture, media, sexuality, gender, and social structure in developing a comprehensive theory of these two separate, but inseparable phenomena.


This innovative and accessible volume includes

    • Figures, tables, and illustrations that reinforce important concepts and relationships
    • Introduces a new, original theory of reciprocal violence and nonviolence
    • Numerous case studies on violence and recovery throughout the book
    • Chapter summaries and review questions to aid student comprehension
    • Models of nonviolence such as "mutuality," "altruistic humanism," "positive peacemaking," and "resiliency"


Designed to be a core text for graduate and undergraduate courses on violence in criminology, sociology, criminal justice, and social work departments, Violence and Nonviolence is also an outstanding supplementary text for violence against women and criminal behavior courses. This book will transform the way students and readers think about violence, nonviolence, and the reciprocal relationship between the two.

INTRODUCTION - Secrets of Violence and Nonviolence
Decreasing Violence and Increasing Nonviolence

Feelings and Structures

Private and Public Shame

A Germ Theory of Violence and Nonviolence

Violent and Nonviolent Rhetoric, Youth at Risk, and Implications for Peacemaking

Violence Against Youth Is More Important Than Violence by Youth

Organization of the Book


Chapter One: Violence in Perspective
Sanctioned and Unsanctioned Violence: An Alternative Perspective

Violence as an Integral Part of American Life

American Violence in Historical Perspective

American Violence in Contemporary Perspective

American Violence in Comparative Perspective

A Reciprocal Approach to Studying Violence



Review Questions

Chapter Two: Interpersonal Violence
Box 2.1 Harrassment and Silence


Box 2.2 Serial Killer

Box 2.3 Retaliatory Bombing

Box 2.4 Homosexual Panic Leading to Murder

Box 2.5 Rape and Homicide

Box 2.6 Situated Transactions

Box 2.7 Altruisitic Killings

Box 2.8 Motherhood and Mental Illness

Juvenile Victimization

Box 2.9 Homosexual Juvenile Homicide

Box 2.10 College Murder

Box 2.11 High School Homicide

Box 2.12 The Smiling Gunman

Physical and Sexual Child Abuse

Box 2.13 Rapist Returns


Box 2.14 Elder Rape and Murder




Review Questions

Chapter Three: Institutional Violence
Box 3.1 Rampage in Central Park

Box 3.2 The Hamburg Riot, 1876
Supremacy (2000)

Box 3.3 The Birmingham Church Bombing, 1963

Family Violence

Box 3.4 "Silence Ending About Abuse in Gay Relationships"

Childhood Maltreatment

School Violence

Box 3.5 Youth Sports and Violence

Gang Violence

Box 3.6 Do or Die

Police and Penal Violence

Box 3.7 Police Torture

Box 3.8 The Rampart Scandal

Box 3.9 New Jersey Turnpike Shootings

Box 3.10 Private Youth Prisons

Box 3.11 Danger on Death Row



Review Questions

Chapter Four: Structural Violence
Box 4.1 Child Slave Labor

Postcolonial Violence

Box 4.2 Genocide in the Americas

Corporate Violence

Box 4.3 The Tobacco Industry

Box 4.4 The ValuJet Crash

Box 4.5 The Auto Industry

Underclass Violence

Box 4.6 Hate Crimes Against the Homeless

Terrorist Violence

Institutional-Structural Violence

Box 4.7 The War on Kids



Review Questions

Chapter Five: Explanations of Violence
Ad Hoc Explanations: General and Family Violence

Life-Course Models of Human Behavior: Causation, Time, and Violence

On the Reciprocity of Violent and Nonviolent Pathways

A Reciprocal Theory of Violence



Review Questions

Chapter Six: Media and Violence
Mass Media, Columbine, and the Middle East

Box 6.1 A Dialogue on Media and Violence

Box 6.2 Tania Modleski's Tale

America's Fascination With Mediated Violence

Violence and Media Context: The Direct and Indirect Effects

Mass Media: Production, Distortion, and Consumption



Review Questions

Chapter Seven: Sexuality and Violence
Philosophizing About Sexuality

Nature, Nurture, and Human Evolution

On Aggression and Nonaggression

Marking the Sexualities of Difference and Hierarchy

Box 7.1 The Dialectics of Sexuality and the New Pornography

Box 7.2 Sexuality, Androgyny, and Sadomasochism

Sexual Difference, Gender Identity, and Violence



Review Questions

Chapter Eight: Recovering From Violence
A Reciprocal Approach to Violence Recovery

Box 8.1 Battered Women, Welfare, Poverty, Reciprocal Violence, and Recovery

Interpersonal Recovery

Institutional Recovery

Box 8.2 Films, Recovery, and Vigilantism

Structural Recovery

Box 8.3 Terrorism, Counterterrorism, Energy, and Recovery



Review Questions

Chapter Nine: Models of Nonviolence
On the Paradigms of Adversarialism and Mutualism

A Brief History of Nonviolent Struggle (1900-2000)

Models of Nonviolence

Positive Peacemaking



Review Questions

Chapter Ten: Policies of Nonviolence
A Summary Review of Victimization and the Pathways to Violence

A Review and Critique of the Adversarial War on Violence

Mutualism and the Struggle for Nonviolence

Nonviolent Policies That Prevent Antisocial Pathways to Violence

Nonviolent Policies That Build Pathways to Positive Peace, Human Rights, and Social Justice

Transformative Justice and Pathways to Violence and Nonviolence


Review Questions

About the Author

This is the book that has been used in the past for this class and seems to be the most fitting for the subject.

Mrs Heather Harmon
Department of Social and Public Health, Ohio University
December 20, 2011

The book is a strong fit for the course objectives of Sociology of Violence and Culture. I also like the variety of information it presents on peacemaking and alternative dispute resolution methods, these are concepts that I believe my students (many of whom are in law enforcement or victim assistance programs) will find beneficial in their professional lives.

Ms Mitzi Hicks
Sociology, Red Rocks Community College
September 12, 2011
Key features
  • Broader perspective than similar books - looks at roots of both violence and non-violence, along with recovery from violent behavior.
  • Also looks at both criminal and non-criminal violent behavior. An example of the latter would be police use of violence.
  • Case studies integrated throughout to provide real-life examples.
  • Summaries and review questions close each chapter.
  • Barak has his own website with a variety of papers and other useful information.


For instructors

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