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Genocide as Social Control

Bradley Campbell
Sociological Theory
Vol. 27, No. 2 (Jun., 2009), pp. 150-172
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40376129
Page Count: 23
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Genocide as Social Control
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Abstract

Genocide is defined here as organized and unilateral mass killing on the basis of ethnicity. While some have focused on genocide as a type of deviance, most genocide is also social control — a response to behavior itself defined as deviant. As such, it can be explained as a part of a general theory of social control. Black's (1998) theories of social control explain the handling of conflicts with their social geometry — that is, with the social characteristics of those involved in the conflict. Here, Blackian theories of social control are extended to specify the social geometry of genocide as follows: genocide varies directly with immobility, cultural distance, relational distance, functional independence, and inequality; and it is greater in a downward direction than in an upward or lateral direction. This theory of genocide can be applied to numerous genocides throughout history, and it is capable of ordering much of the known variation in genocide — such as when and where it occurs, how severe it is, and who participates.

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