Dissertation Abstracts

The Notion of 'Violence' and 'The Other' in Social Theory

Author: Maria M. Rodionova, mmrodionova@hse.ru
Department: Social Institutions Analysis
University: HSE University, Russian Federation
Supervisor: Professor Inna F. Deviatko
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: Russian

Keywords: violence , otherness , metatheory , war
Areas of Research: Political Sociology , Conceptual and Terminological Analysis , Deviance and Social Control


The main focus of dissertation is the process of transformation of the concept of violence in the political and social theory of the 20th-21st centuries. I document a tremendous growth of interest in this phenomenon despite the absence of a coherent metatheory and attempt to trace possible reasons for the appearance of the latter. For this purpose, I distinguish two analytical categories – violence and the other. The status of violence toward another or the other in sociology is controversial. On the one hand, violence against a member of a different group is much more frequent and acute than violence against members of one's own group. On the other hand, violence toward a very similar, almost identical subject is most intense and acute. The thesis analyzes the theoretical grounds for the intersection of the categories of violence and the other. This is done by engaging a wide pool of authors for theoretical consideration: Georg Simmel, Max Weber, René Girard, Georges Bataille, Jacques Derrida, Emmanuel Levinas, etc. Preliminary results show that sociological theory, classically focused and implying, if not social order, at least orderliness of social interaction, excludes the notion of violence from its terminological apparatus. In reality, however, violence is closely woven into the logic of social life: culture, art and everyday interaction.