Bydefinition, violence is any behavior involving brute physical forcethat is intended to damage, harm, or kill someone or something. Instudying sociology, it would seem as though violence is an inherentphenomenon at virtually all levels of human organizations. In such amanner, it has been studied and discussed intensely by variousscholars in a bid to determine its sources, causes, and potentialsolutions. Correspondingly, violence is a major theme in the texts ofGarth Massey, Anthony Giddens, and Loic Wacquant in addition,violence is inherent in almost all levels of the society, is linkedto poverty, and in a way is a reflection of people’s desire tochange their circumstances.
Body& Soul: Notebooks of an Apprentice Boxer isa book by Loic Wacquant that is based on his personal experienceswhile training in a predominantly black neighborhood in Chicago.While training at the gym, Wacquant, a Frenchman, determines thatmost of the young men in the gym enroll in order to escape theviolence in their neighborhood. Apparently, the predominantly blackneighborhood where the Frenchman trains is poor and dominated bycriminal gangs that participate in a variety of illegal and oftenviolent activities. People who train at the gym prefer the controlledviolence of the gym, which is seemingly constructive, to theuncontrolled violence of the streets, which leads to the loss ofcountless lives (Wacquant, 2006). From Wacquant’s story, it becomesclear that violence and poverty are interwoven the poorer acommunity is, the more likely that many people will turn into a lifeof violent crime. Additionally, Wacquant’s story shows that mostyoung black people in Chicago are forced to participate in violentcrime by circumstances such as poverty, and would pursue a betterfuture if given a chance. However, at the same time, the gym providesa place where the youth can learn to turn the violence into somethingmeaningful in the society for instance, the controlled violence atthe gym allows people to win championships, leave the undesirablelife of violence and poverty, and make something meaningful of theirlives. Essentially, this shows that violence, to an extent, in thiscase controlled violence, is necessary for people to change badcircumstances to their favor.
Giddenset al. (2015) also concur that the youth are at risk of being suckedinto violent gangs, especially if they come from poor blackneighborhoods. According to the dependency theory , resources in thesociety flow from a “periphery” of poor people, as well asunderdeveloped states to a “core” of wealthy regions ororganization, causing the latter to be rich at the expense of theformer. Correspondingly, the fact that the rich continue to be rich,while the poor continue to languish in poverty becomes a pressurethat in turn forces the young poor people into a life of crime(Giddens et al., 2015). Essentially, these authors explain thatseemingly, most young people from poor communities join gangs to lookfor a way out of destitution this shows that, to some extent,violence is a display of human willingness to change undesirablesituations hence it can also be a factor of positive motives.
InTheArab Counterrevolution,Agha & Malley (2015) also speak about violence in the societyhowever, they concentrate on the Arab Spring, a recent violentrevolution of Arabs against tyrannical systems. These authorsdemonstrate that although violence is often undesirable, it is oftenunavoidable especially during oppression. Seemingly, these authorsindirectly raise the question of whether violence is a necessary evilin the society or not. As illustrated by the Arab Revolution or ArabSpring, violence is a necessary force in the society without which,in controlled levels, there is no freedom and democracy. In a sense,this demonstrates just how deeply rooted violence is in variouslevels of human organization, as well as how necessary it is tochanging undesirable human predicaments.
InWhydo Drug Dealers Still Live With Their Moms?,Levitt and Dubner (2015) explore the lives of drug dealers and try toprovides a logical explanation for why most of them live at home.Correspondingly, they uncover that many young people from poorneighborhoods sell crack cocaine for a living even though it paysless than the minimum wage and is probably one of the most dangerousjobs in the world. For instance, the members of the drug gang thatLevitt and Dubner studied had a one in four chance of being killed(Levitt & Dubner, 2015). While seeking to explain thisphenomenon, they also establish that drug dealers, like all otherambitious people in the society, often risk their lives due to onemain reason — they all desire to succeed in extremely competitivefields, even violent ones. Inherently, this shows that theseindividuals predispose themselves to violence in a bid to improvetheir social standing, which further raises the question of violencebeing a necessary evil.
Conclusively,violence seems to be a common yet complicated theme in varioussociological texts. While it is often considered undesirable by moralground, it seems to be an active force in various levels of thesociety, which in some way establishes it as some kind of human needin moderated levels. For instance, many young people in poorneighborhoods seem to commit violence in a bid to succeed in variouscompetitive fields of life, as well as escape destitution and crime.In a similar manner, Arabs during the Arab Spring resorted toviolence as a force for getting freedom and democracy, which furtherraises the question of whether demonizing violence is justified. Ifanything, violence seems to stem from the social disparities thatexist in various levels of human organization such as the dividebetween the rich and the poor. In such a manner, it remains acomplicated topic in the sociological realm.
Agha,H. & Malley, R. “The Arab Counterrevolution” In Massey, G.(editor) (2015). Readingsfor sociology, 8th ed.New York: WW Norton & Co
Giddens,A., Duneier, M., Applebaum P. R., & Carr, D. (2015). Essentialsof sociology 5th ed.New York: WW Norton & Co.
Levitt,S. & Dubner, J. S. “Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live with TheirMoms?” In Massey, G. (editor) (2015). Readingsfor sociology, 8th ed.New York: WW Norton & Co.
Wacquant,L. (2006). Body& Soul: Notebooks of an apprentice boxer.Oxford: Oxford University Press.