This chapter presents a framework for understanding the factors responsible for collective violence. Structural conditions that serve as a predisposition to violence include poverty, economic and social stratification, racial inequality, strong authoritarian hierarchy, control by violence, and limited political opportunity. However, unless people are motivated to indulge in such acts, violence does not take place. Violence is also shaped by group characteristics: crowds can lead to de-individuation, which makes people less accountable; and groups seeking positive identity may become prejudiced against the outgroup. Competition for certain resources may create grounds for conflict between groups as well. Asymmetric power relations are a cause of backlash among groups. Individual characteristics such as locus of control, political efficacy, individualist/collectivist orientation, and social domination orientation provide some information about involvement in collective violence; but none of these factors alone is a strong predictor. Relative deprivation at the individual level or group level may also cause people to aggress towards others. The chapter ends by providing future directions for research, including the need to include both cross-level and single level explanations and the need to account for nesting of individuals within groups and groups within societal structures.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Sciences(all)
- Arts and Humanities(all)