Theorizing Violence: Neoliberalism, Gender, and the Increase in Violence

Monday, 16 July 2018: 08:45
Location: Constitution Hall (MTCC NORTH BUILDING)
Oral Presentation
Sylvia WALBY, Lancaster University, United Kingdom
Is violence increasing or decreasing? According to Pinker, drawing on Elias, violence is decreasing. But, when gender-based violence is made visible by recent developments in measurement and data collection, violence can be seen to be increasing not decreasing. As the neoliberal project restructures societies, increasing inequalities and shrinking welfare, the resilience of potential victims is reduced, and the rate of violence increases. Too often, violence has been dispersed or fragmented in social theory, and treated as less important than other forms of power. When considered, it has traditionally been more often considered as deviant behaviour from the disadvantaged, rather than the deployment of power by the more powerful. The new scholarship from women and the global south has challenged this traditional account of the direction of violence; documenting the scale of the violence from the powerful. It is time the analysis of violence was moved from the margin to the centre of contemporary sociology, as proposed in this conference, and its significance for society developed in social theory. This requires rethinking the concept of violence, redefining it as an institution parallel in significance to those of economy, polity and civil society. This would facilitate the inclusion of violence in analyses of societal transformation, including the contradictory implications of neoliberal forms of securitisation for power and justice.