The Politics of Collective Violence (Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics)

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It is a relief to find an historically grounded sociological analysis of the endemic problem of collective violence. The author has been publishing in the area of contentious politics at least since One of the things we learn from this book is how his thinking has evolved along with his research. The Politics of Collective Violence is part of a series on "contentious politics" co-edited by Tilly and sponsored partly by the Mellon Foundation.

The first few chapters consist largely of summaries of Tilly's earlier work--sometimes with lengthy quotes. Those chapters provide a necessary introduction to what follows. It is in this material that he lists the repertoire of contentious actions that is available to certain peoples at certain historical instances. The use of a dramaturgical metaphor is reminiscent of Erving Goffman. Also like Goffman, Tilly tells a tale which the reader recognizes as something he or she always knew, but failed to acknowledge until it was presented in a systematic manner.


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On the other hand, like Goffman, Tilly sometimes challenges conventional wisdom both with his logic and his empirical evidence. For example "As a general rule, the attribution of terrorism to extremism, fundamentalism, or delusion makes little sense.

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Tilly's spotlight is on the horrible consequences of massive violence between and within nation states although he occasionally ventures into smaller acts of collective violence such as cowboy shootouts, brawls, road rage and football hooliganism which can evolve into larger forms. Tilly exhibits a Parsonian penchant for precision of definition, classification and typologies.

It is how he organizes his thinking and his book. He launches his attack with a matrix consisting of high capacity versus low capacity regimes the amount of control the regime exercises over its people on one axis and democratic versus undemocratic regimes on the other. The typology allows him to forecast the likelihood of violence under specified conditions. His prime examples of high capacity democracies are Germany and Japan. His high capacity undemocratic example is China while Somalia provides an example of a low capacity undemocratic regime.

The final cell, which the author ignores, is the low capacity democratic regime exemplified by Jamaica.

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The intent is to distinguish various forms of violence and the processes by which they morph from one form to another. The single universal embraced by Tilly is the us-them distinction. Be the first to ask a question about The Politics of Collective Violence. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3.

Chuck Tilly and Sidney Tarrow on "Contentious Politics" 1 of 3 (12/4/2006)

Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The Politics of Collective Violence. Apr 20, Colin rated it liked it Shelves: politics-and-history , culture-and-society , reviewed-books , organizations-and-social-networks. The subject of study is collective violence, and how to explain and categorize its various forms. The basic dimensions of comparison for these types of violent collective action are the level of coordination and level of salience of violence.

The argument underscores the importance of collective action, organization, and the behavior of political brokers and violent entrepreneurs in shaping outcomes both in contentious politics generally and in collective violence specifically. With theoretically limitless social boundaries and grievances through which people can be divided and spurred to violence, it is these actors that actually determine when outcomes turn violent.


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Despite the high-theory content, there were rewards to reading; the book is sprinkled through with interesting little mini-histories and asides from Tilly, giving a sense of what I imagine his teaching style must have been like. Do you love political science typologies? If so, this is a book for you.

Otherwise, this can probably be skipped safely. Feb 21, J.

(DOC) Book Review: The Politics of Collective Violence | Eyal Ben-Ari - noephovesalking.cf

Hushour rated it really liked it. Tilly is always so refreshing to read because he openly, brazenly refuses to come to any but the most hesitant of conclusions on his work. What he presents here are some new ways of charting collective violence and attempting to discern common features between some of them.

A nice Tilly is always so refreshing to read because he openly, brazenly refuses to come to any but the most hesitant of conclusions on his work. A nice introductory discussion to understanding non-warfare types of violence. Jul 06, Dan Myers rated it it was ok. A few hot spots, but mostly doesn't go anywhere. I published a detailed review in Mobilization 10 3.

Sep 10, Ahmet Tezel rated it it was ok. Nov 08, Margaret Sankey rated it liked it. Tilly then suggests the points at which violence erupted because systems of control of boundaries broke down allowing people who previously had lived peacefully together to turn on one another. Nov 03, Sunny Moraine rated it it was amazing.

The Politics of Collective Violence

A classic. Extraordinarily useful for anyone interested in wars, conflicts, and states, and accessible to the layperson and scholar alike. More of a kind of sociological look at the causes of collective violence, its forms, as well as the reasons that people take part in group violence. Jun 22, The Reader rated it really liked it. As we would like more IR and PS scholars to write. Charles Tilly is always good. Halilat rated it really liked it May 16, Michael rated it liked it Aug 02, Sarah rated it really liked it Sep 25, Kasumi Maeda rated it it was amazing Mar 19, Jackie rated it it was amazing May 11, Drew McCall rated it liked it Jul 02, Jenn rated it liked it Jul 08, Mariusz Franciszek rated it liked it Aug 23, Mark Schrad rated it really liked it Aug 09, Desiree Smelcer rated it it was amazing Dec 11, Rebeca rated it really liked it Jan 28, Can Ersoy rated it really liked it Jun 16, Zita K.