Synopses & Reviews
Why do some conflicts escalate into violence while others dissipate harmlessly? Under what circumstances will people kill, and why?
While homicide has been viewed largely in the pathological terms of "crime" and "deviance," violence, Mark Cooney contends, is a naturally-occurring form of conflict found throughout history and across cultures under certain social conditions. Cooney has analyzed the social control of homicide within and across over 30 societies and interviewed several dozens of prisoners incarcerated for murder or manslaughter, as well as members of their families. Violence such as homicide can only be understood, he argues, by transcending the traditional focus on the social characteristics of the killer and victims, and by looking at the role played by family members, friends, neighbors, onlookers, police officers, and judges. These third parties can be a source of peace or violence, depending on how they are configured in particular cases. Violence flourishes, Cooney demonstrates, when authority is either very strong or very weak and when third-party ties are strong and boundaries between groups sharply defined.
Drawing on recent theory in the lively new sociological speciality of conflict management, Mark Cooney has culled a vast array of evidence from modern and preindustrial societies to provide us with the first general sociological analysis of human violence.
"Cooney raises fundamental issues concerning the nature of the sociological enterprise in general and of the understanding of violence and conflict within society in particular. [He] is convincing in his demonstration that any understanding of violence and conflict within society must take into account the role of third parties (e.g., relatives, friends, neighbors, strangers, or legal officials) as a force for violence or peace." -Choice,
"This is an ambitious text that will be very useful in the classroom because of its commitment to present a very broad range of contemporary political thought in both a historical and an intellectual context."-Lisa Disch,University of Minnesota
"Well organized, including all the topics that a course on contemporary political thought should cover, and several other important topics that most texts omit."-Mark Graber,University of Maryland
Contemporary Political Thought
is a foundation textbook in political thought. It brings together readings by leading exponents of contemporary political theory with lucid, jargon-free introductions, and is the first book in the area to combine these pedagogical elements.
The book is divided into 12 sections: the twentieth to the twenty-first centuries, interpreting political thought now and then, liberalisms, conservatisms, marxisms, communitarianism, feminism, ecologism and environmentalism, post-structuralism and post-modernism, multi-culturalism, political thought beyond the Western tradition, and democratic theory for a new century.
Each section contains several influential texts that provide discussion of various key theoretical positions. The introductions elucidate some of the main currents within the area of thought, and the areas of most significant tension, give cross-references to other theories, and contextualize the readings that follow. An indispensable aid for students and professors alike, Contemporary Political Thought is the perfect introduction to theoretical approaches to politics.
About the Author
Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Georgia, Mark Cooney holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Virginia and an S.J.D. from Harvard Law School.