The tension between the guarantee of societal peace and order by either the Leviathan or the legitimated self-help of the individual or small group is a constituent feature of all modern societies.
According to the ideology of the nation-state violent social control should be an exclusive preserve of the state. Social and political reality tells us that this is seldom the case. Violence aimed at upholding a specific social order is quite often employed by members of social groups that claim the right to define behavioural norms for their constituencies or the society at large, police compliance and enforce it in violent ways if deemed necessary.
We firstly aim at reconstructing a number of such hybrid systems of violent social control in order to find out, how this tension between the state and societal groups shapes social practice, how such practices are transformed over time and in how far hybrid systems can supply functional alternatives to the state-monopoly-model.
The legitimacy of specific practices of violent social control depends on their acceptance by the members of the respective societies and is in our view a function of the perceived justice and effectiveness in safeguarding societal peace. The rectangle established by these four dimensions of 1) legitimacy, 2) justice, 3) societal peace and 4) (social control) violence constitutes the foundation of our research with respect to the normative dimension of the uses of violence in the quest for social control. We do not, however, ask what should be, but what is. That is, we are interested in the empirically detectable culturally framed understandings of these dimensions and their interplay in the genesis, maintenance and transformation of different orders of violent social control.
The overall theme of justice, peace and legitimacy in violence-based social control will be elaborated in a number of projects. Since August 2009, a first project on the “Genesis, structure and operating modes of systems of violent social control” is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation).
Research Fellows:Peter Kreuzer