Sartre’s Later Work: Towards a Notion of Institutional Violence

Marieke Mueller

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter engages with Jean-Paul Sartre’s thinking on violence in his later works, to suggest that he views violence as a relationship that is always-already contained in the situation, rather than simply as a behaviour that can be chosen or rejected at will. The chapter contributes to the existing literature on the topic of violence in Sartre's thought by distinguishing between Sartrean violence as an 'act' and violence as 'situation'. By claiming that there is a decided increase in emphasis on 'situational' or 'institutionalised' violence in Sartre's later thought, the chapter turns to Sartre's last major published work, The Family Idiot, to show that he affirms an anonymous form of violence that is not only independent of a stable oppressor-oppressed relationship, but is also self-perpetuating because it turns those formerly subjected to it into its future agents. The chapter insists on the original nature of Sartre's later approach to violence, its relevance for an understanding of contemporary society, and the comparisons that can be drawn between Sartre's approach to violence and notions of structural or symbolic violence as developed, for example, by Johan Galtung and by Pierre Bourdieu.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Meanings of Violence
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Critical Theory to Biopolitics
EditorsGavin Rae, Emma Ingala
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-203-70376-2
ISBN (Print)978-1138570207, 1138570206
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2018

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Contemporary Philosophy


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