Aggression, violence, and victimization are remarkably dynamic terms. How these terms are understood and defined is shaped by formal and informal social policies and controls (Goldstein, 1986). Excluding assertiveness from the definition of aggression as it relates to violence, aggression can be considered to encompass behaviors intended to cause physical or psychological harm. Violence may be understood as an extreme form of aggression, in which the intent of the perpetrator is to cause serious harm (Berkowitz, 1993). Anthropological research on various non-western cultures demonstrates that aggression and violence are not necessarily inevitable, nor are they universal (Goldstein, 1986). Like words and manners, as Elias points out, the concepts transform over time, and vary across and within cultures (Fletcher, 1997).
Both aggression and violence are integral to an understanding of victimization. Victimization involves an attacker’s goal to maintain and impose their power and dominance (Berkowitz, 1993). Prior to more formal social organization, Elias (1986) argues that victims took the law into their own hands. Eventually, crime became seen as perpetrated against the state and not the victim, a development that pushed victims out of their criminal justice role. In keeping with the themes of dominance and power, Elias (1986) also suggests that specific groups, such as women, may be the target of social or cultural attitudes that perpetuate myths to justify victimization and, by extension, violence, by drawing on concepts such as Social Darwinism and a belief in a “just world.” Though animal studies have indicated that electrical stimulation to certain parts of an animal’s b...
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... An Introduction to the Work of Norbert Elias. Oxford, UK. Polity Press, 6-30.
Berkowitz L. (1993). The Problem of Aggression. Aggression: Its Causes, Consequences and Control. New York. McGraw Hill, 1-23.
Goldstein, J. (1986). The Nature of Human Aggression. Aggression and Crimes of Violence. New York. Oxford University Press, 3-29.
Campbell, A. (1993). Cultural Lessons in Aggression. Men, Women, and Aggression: From Rage in Marriage to Violence in the Streets – How Gender Affects the Way We Act. New York. Basic Books, 1-18.
Elias, R. (1986). Rising Stars: Victims and Victimology. The Politics of Victimization: Victims, Victimology and Human Rights. New York. Oxford University Press, 9-26.
Young, K. (2007). From Violence in Sport to Sports-Related Violence: Widening the Focus. Sport in Society: A Student Introduction, Second Edition. London. Sage Publications.
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