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Comparative Study
, 75 (2), 408-19

Culture, Social Organization, and Patterns of Violence

Comparative Study

Culture, Social Organization, and Patterns of Violence

D Cohen. J Pers Soc Psychol.


Traditional social theorizing holds that strong and cohesive family, community, and religious institutions rein in violence. However, in cultures where certain types of violence are condoned, this should not be true. Specifically, in the U.S. South and West, where culture-of-honor traditions persist, greater social organization should be associated with more violence. This pattern was confirmed in examinations of argument-related homicide rates (Study 1); mass consumption patterns for violence in entertainment, recreation, and vocational pursuits (Study 2); and voting patterns of political elites on gun control and national defense issues (Study 3). Across the 3 studies, social organization was associated with effects in the South and West opposite of what they were in the North. Implications for general theories of cultural evolution, suggesting a cycle in the way societies crystallize and change, are discussed.

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