Get 20M+ Full-Text Papers For Less Than $1.50/day. Start a 14-Day Trial for You or Your Team.

Learn More →

Violence without Moral Restraint: Reflections on the Dehumanization of Victims and Victimizers

Violence without Moral Restraint: Reflections on the Dehumanization of Victims and Victimizers The paper identifies a class of violent acts that can best be described as sanctioned massacres. The special features of sanctioned massacres are that they occur in the context of a genocidal policy, and that they are directed at groups that have not themselves threatened or engaged in hostile actions against the perpetrators of the violence. The psychological environment in which such massacres occur lacks the conditions normally perceived as providing some degree of moral justification for violence. In searching for a psychological explanation of mass violence under these conditions, it is instructive to focus on factors reducing the strength of restraining forces against violence. Three interrelated processes are discussed in detail: (a) processes of authorization, which define the situation as one in which standard moral principles do not apply and the individual is absolved of responsibility to make personal moral choices; (b) processes of routinization, which so organize the action that there is no opportunity for raising moral questions and making moral decisions; and (c) processes of dehumanization which deprive both victim and victimizer of identity and community. The paper concludes with suggestions for corrective efforts that might help to prevent sanctioned massacres by counteracting the systemic and attitudinal supports for the processes described. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Social Issues Wiley

Violence without Moral Restraint: Reflections on the Dehumanization of Victims and Victimizers

Journal of Social Issues , Volume 29 (4) – Oct 1, 1973

Loading next page...
 
/lp/wiley/violence-without-moral-restraint-reflections-on-the-dehumanization-of-yb37b1kKOL
Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
1973 The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
ISSN
0022-4537
eISSN
1540-4560
DOI
10.1111/j.1540-4560.1973.tb00102.x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The paper identifies a class of violent acts that can best be described as sanctioned massacres. The special features of sanctioned massacres are that they occur in the context of a genocidal policy, and that they are directed at groups that have not themselves threatened or engaged in hostile actions against the perpetrators of the violence. The psychological environment in which such massacres occur lacks the conditions normally perceived as providing some degree of moral justification for violence. In searching for a psychological explanation of mass violence under these conditions, it is instructive to focus on factors reducing the strength of restraining forces against violence. Three interrelated processes are discussed in detail: (a) processes of authorization, which define the situation as one in which standard moral principles do not apply and the individual is absolved of responsibility to make personal moral choices; (b) processes of routinization, which so organize the action that there is no opportunity for raising moral questions and making moral decisions; and (c) processes of dehumanization which deprive both victim and victimizer of identity and community. The paper concludes with suggestions for corrective efforts that might help to prevent sanctioned massacres by counteracting the systemic and attitudinal supports for the processes described.

Journal

Journal of Social IssuesWiley

Published: Oct 1, 1973

References