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Preventing Violence

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  98 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Violence is most often addressed in moral and legal terms: "How evil is this action, and how much punishment does it deserve?" Unfortunately, this way of thinking, the basis for our legal and political institutions, does nothing to shed light on the causes of violence. Violent criminals have been Gilligan's teachers, and he has been their student. Prisons are microcosms of ...more
Paperback, 146 pages
Published July 17th 2001 by Thames Hudson (first published July 2001)
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Jul 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Short/sweet distillation of a now-canonical liberal theory of violence. In a crude nutshell: violence is a reaction against shame, which results from feelings of inferiority, which results from socially constructed hierarchies. Therefore: we can prevent violence by removing/mitigating its social causes.

If you're already inclined to agree - i.e. you believe that behavior reflects nature + nurture, that poverty (not sin) is the root of most evil, that corporal punishment is cruel, that gun contro
Apr 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
A sequel of sorts to Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic, with some interesting and useful ideas lost in a jungle of premature conclusions, fast-and-loose organization and perfunctory research. The very brief section on Columbine is wildly inaccurate; it utilizes cultural myths about the event to buttress an opinion presented as fact.

Probably the most interesting part about this book is Gilligan's approach to the problem of violence: it is a social pathogen with distinct vectors, and,
Luca Tanaka
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
"...the foundation on which all relationships must be based, if they are going to be able to lead away from violence rather than toward it, is an attitude of genuine, mutual respect."

A quick, but sobering and powerful read, this book has valuable and even vital insights to take into work in communities that suffer from violent cultures. Sadly, this 2001 publication is still all-too relevant in so much of America almost twenty years later. I work in an underfunded school with a culture that can s
Aug 16, 2018 marked it as to-keep-reference
" manera más efectiva de convertir a una persona no violenta en violenta es mandarla a prisión".

Desigualdad Pág.178
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
One of those books that has changed my thinking permanently. Absolutely brilliant insights into the causes and potential management of the violent tendencies that arise in human civilization. A must read, frankly.
Sep 16, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: phd-list
This book presents some interesting ideas on violence. I am particularly keen on the "anti-prison." I had the good fortune to be in a working group with the author at an Institute of Medicine meeting last June and was able to futher benefit from his lifelong experience in the field in person. Anyone who's professional life is centered on the reduction or prevention of violence should pick this up. ...more
Toby Mustill
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Can Özer
Apr 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
The book is pretty repetitive unless you really have no idea how to prevent violence in the first place. The solutions are backed up by research, which is good, though it is the research of 20 years ago and can feel a bit dated at times.

Gilligan's two main points are (I) violence is to be treated as pathological, and (II) the discussion is intentionally empirical, not philosophical. So don't expect any arguments for why we should abolish prisons and implement rehabilitation programs other than t
James Rees
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Violence is caused by overwhelming shame and is always a last resort.

I will use the insights from this book in my work with children, teaching them to use words when they feel overwhelmed. This book also gives a different lens to view the world and the politics of the U.S.

We can't forget that it is in the interest of some politicians to uphold violence so as to place public anger toward the lower class rather than those in power who uphold our unjust criminal justice and economic systems.
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who wants to understand violence or identify solutions for violence must read this book. It is eye-opening, smart, accessible and, imo, totally spot on.
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've heard of this book first time when I saw it on the list for basic reading of the Zeitgeist Movement Brasil(of which I'm not an activist, but curious about). It supposedly would bring another view of criminal justice from a guy who works deep inside the prisons in US.
For a long time I've been postponing the reading of this book. My bad... The book is awesome. And made me think about some of the principles I chose to guide my life in politics, ethics...
The use of concepts like violence, punis
Jan 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
It's a very academic-type book; you learn a lot about the psychology of violence and why people turn to violence, as well as how it can be prevented. I'm no psychology buff, but it kept my attention. I wouldn't read it for fun though, I wouldn't have read the book if it hadn't been a requirement for class. ...more
Jul 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Another great James Gilligan's book. A kind of a synthesis on the previous one with wider explanations. ...more
Oct 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A very helpful analysis of violence from someone who works in prisons and is thus aware of the social dimensions of violence and the role of shame. Highly recommended.
deda mika
Dec 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Awesome and insightful
Angel Salinas
Nov 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The best book I've ever read that helps understand human behavior and why people commit violence. An amazing book! ...more
Nov 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Simple and straightforward look at violence from a public health perspective as well as some of the obstacles to preventing violence faced by US society.
Maru Taniwha
rated it it was amazing
Aug 20, 2013
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May 24, 2020
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“It is very important to note, however, that the only segment of the population from whom changing our social and economic conditions in the ways that prevent violence would exact a higher cost would be the extremely wealthy upper, or ruling, class — the wealthiest one per cent of the population (which in the United States today controls some 39 per cent of the total wealth of the nation, and 48 per cent of the financial wealth, as shown by Wolff in Top Heavy (1996). The other 99 per cent of the population — namely, the middle class and the lower class — would benefit, not only form decreased rates of violence (which primarily victimize the very poor), but also from a more equitable distribution of the collective wealth and income of our unprecedentedly wealthy societies.

Even on a worldwide scale, it would require a remarkably small sacrifice from the wealthiest individuals and nations to raise everyone on earth, including the populations of the poorest nations, above the subsistence level, as the United Nations Human Development Report 1998, has shown. I emphasize the wealthiest individuals as well as nations because, as the U.N. report documents, a tiny number of the wealthiest individuals actually possess wealth on a scale that is larger than the annual income of most of the nations of the earth.

For example, the three richest individuals on earth have assets that exceed the combined Gross Domestic Product of the fortyeight poorest countries! The assets of the 84 richest individuals exceed the Gross Domestic Product of the most populous nation on earth, China, with 1.2 billion inhabitants. The 225 richest individuals have a combined wealth of over $1 trillion, which is equal to the annual income of the poorest 47 per cent of the world's population, or 2.5 billion people.

By comparison, it is estimated that the additional cost of achieving and maintaining universal access to basic education for all, basic health care for all, reproductive health care for all women, adequate food for all and safe water and sanitation for all is roughly $40 billion a year. This is less than 4 per cent of the combined wealth of the 225 richest people in the world.

It has been shown throughout the world, both internationally and intranationally, that reducing economic inequities not only improves physical health and reduces the rate of death from natural causes far more effectively than doctors, medicines, and hospitals; it also decreases the rate of death from both criminal and political violence far more effectively than any system of police forces, prisons, or military interventions ever invented.”
“Another source of evidence that violence can be prevented comes from the experience of those religious sub-cultures that practice "primitive Christian communism," such as the Anabaptist sects — the Hutterites, Amish, and Mennonites. These are classless societies with essentially no inequities of income or wealth and virtually no private property, since they pool their economic resources and share them equally. They also experience virtually no physical violence, either individual or collective.

The Hutterites, for example, since emigrating from eastern Europe to escape religious persecution around 1874, have lived in communal farms in southern Canada and the north-mid western United States for more than a century. As strict pacifists, that was their only alternative to extermination. Thus, they have no history of collective violence (warfare). They "consider themselves to live the only true form of Christianity, one which entails communal sharing of property and cooperative production and distribution of goods," as Kaplan and Plaut described them in Personality in a Communal Society (1955).

That is, they conform to the pattern of the earliest Christian communities, as described in the Acts of the Apostles (2: 44-45): "all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need." As a result, the Hutterites experienced "virtually no differentiation of class, income, or standard of living... This society comes as close as to being classless as any we know." (Kaplan and Plaut).

An intensive review by medical and social scientists of their well-documented behavioral history and vital statistics during the century since their arrival in North America reported that "We did not find a single case of murder, assault or rape. Physical aggressiveness of any sort was quite rate." (Eaton and Weil, Culture and Mental Disorders, 1955.) Hostetler, writing twenty years later, reported that there still had not been a single homicide in the 100 years since the Hutterites entered North America, and only one suicide in a population of about 21,000 (Hutterite Society, 1974).”
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