№ 3, 2022
The Ship of Theseus: Transformations of the Concept of Violence in Political and Social Theory
The article analyzes the process of transformation of the concept of violence in the political and social theory of the 20th — 21st centuries. The authors document a tremendous growth of interest in this phenomenon despite the absence of a coherent metatheory and attempt to trace possible reasons for the appearance of the latter. For this purpose, they distinguish two analytical categories — “classic” and “new” violence — and consider both concepts in terms of the specifics of the action, the object and subject of violence, as well as the prevailing models of theoretical explanation.
Such simplification allows to trace transformations that the category of violence has gone through: the transition from a fundamentally observable action to a concealed one; from the state, group or person as subjects of violence to an impersonal structure; from capturing subject’s experience to its “loss”; from a functional explanation of violence to a dysfunctional one. According to the authors, these changes in the conceptualization of violence mean a significant expansion of the concept and a simultaneous blurring of its boundaries, which ultimately leads to the loss of its discrimination ability. After having diagnosed the reinvention of the concept, they highlight three potential solutions: to think about violence as a stable concept, in which the constitutive elements do not change, but their semantic content does; to interpret new conceptualizations of violence as additions to rather than replacements of the previous statements; and, finally, to recognize the possibility of the coexistence of several understandings of violence.
Main Page ~ Authors ~ N. M.Smirnov