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Violence Theory Workshop

NCJ Number
Date Published
28 pages

This article presents the proceedings of the Violence Theory Workshop, held December 10-11, 2002, and sponsored by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).


On the first day of the workshop a group discussion was held to examine the explanations of violence. Specifically discussed were the common themes among papers, how to evaluate a theory, defining the theories' variables, a common terminology, the macro-level view of social institutions, and organizations and violence. The theories discussed were strain, control balance, feminist, violent structures, social learning, routine activities, and radical ecology theory. The five conventional scientific criteria for evaluating a theory are simplicity or parsimony, generality, testability, validity, and originality. In discussing theories' variables, the participants focused on gender, unit of analysis, level of analysis, relational distance, the variables' relationship to the theories, and testability. Then the discussion progressed to integrating the explanations of violence. The question was whether the theories give greater emphasis to the perpetrator, victim, event, or social structure. A typology was offered that was event-centered, perpetrator-centered, victim-centered, and included social structure. Research efforts and the four elements of alcohol-related violence, domestic violence, hate crimes, and terrorism were discussed. Day two of the workshop involved group discussion on theory and implications for NIJ and practitioners. The participants focused on variations in rates of violence, social structure and hot spots, predictions regarding terrorism, social learning theory and drug use, and environmental design and routine activities theory. An example of social geometry theory as applied to blood feuds was discussed. Domestic partner violence, recommendations to reduce terrorism, improving databases, corporate violence, and violence and minorities were also topics of discussion.

Date Published: January 1, 2002