Using the Macro-Micro Integrated Theoretical Model to Understand the Dynamics of Collective Violence

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It is now widely acknowledged that the study of genocide and other forms of collective violence has largely been ignored within the criminological literature. This comes as a surprise given the fact that genocide and crimes against humanity are particularly heinous types of collective violence and therefore one would have expected them to be of interest to criminologists. For instance, genocide occupies a special place as ‘the crime of crimes’. It has also been referred to as ‘the world’s most heinous crime’, or ‘the worst of all crimes’. At the very least, the lack of consideration of the topic of collective violence (especially genocide and crimes against humanity) is an important lacuna in the criminological literature and one that deserves far closer examination from a criminological and social science perspective. Nevertheless, in recent years there has been a growing interest in the study of genocide and other complex forms of collective violence. Growing attention is being devoted towards applying criminological theories to these crimes. However, whether traditional criminological theories (for example, Agnew's general strain theory (GST)), Gottfredson and Hirschi's general theory of crime (GTC) and Sutherland's theory of differential association (DA, 1939)), which were designed to explain ‘ordinary crimes’ at the individual (for example, GST and GTC) or group level (for example, DA; note, however, that there is evidence to suggest that DA emanates from participant self-selection, in other words, birds of a feather flocking together), can reasonably be generalized to genocide and other complex forms of collective violence remains open to doubt. As will be demonstrated in this chapter, owing to their unique characteristics genocide and other complex forms of collective violence can only be explained by a theory that is able to accommodate a large number of variables (including, but not limited to, individual differences, social categories, social relationships, relevant situational variables and cognitive and emotional variables) and which in turn allows for interaction between them. In this regard, significant emphasis will be laid on the suitability and utility of the macro–micro integrated theoretical model (MMITM).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCriminological Approaches to International Criminal Law
EditorsIlias Bantekas, Emmanouela Mylonaki
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781107446700
ISBN (Print)9781107060036
Publication statusPublished - 06 Nov 2014


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