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Critically Assess the Argument That Sociological Explanations of Violence Are More Convincing Than Those That Highlight Biological or Psychological Factors

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‘Violence is the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation’ (WHO, NO DATE). In this essay I will be assessing the sociological, psychological and biological factors of violence. I will further go on to argue that sociological explanations are more convincing that biological and psychological explanations.

One psychological factor is the experience with violent television and video games. ‘Exposure to violent video games is associated with higher levels of aggressive behaviour, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, and physiological arousal and with lower levels of prosocial behaviour’ (Anderson et al,2010). Violence in television and video games particularly affects young people as they are at that stage in life where they are likely to imitate most things they see. One case in particular is the murder of two year-old James Bulger in 1993 who was killed by 2 10-year old boys. It has been argued that the killers were influenced from the horror film Child’s play 3 which contains scenes of a doll having its face beaten to a pulp.

One biological factor of violence can be taken from the Italian theorist Casare Lombroso. This theory concentrates on the physical characteristics that makes a criminal. Lombroso argues that ‘criminals have some distinctive physique- low foreheads, prominent jaws and cheekbones, protruding ears, excessive hairiness and usually long arms’ (Carrabine, Cox, Lee, Plummer and South, 2009). Lombroso theory has been criticised a lot because the majority of the population share the same features that the so called criminal possesses. This supports the view that sociological explanations are not only more convincing but also more trustworthy.

Violence against homosexuality is still continuing to be an issue on the rise. Hate crime against lesbians, gays, bisexual and transsexual. Russia is one of the countries where it is continuing to rise.

Gender plays one of the most significant roles in violence. Men are seen as violent from an early stage of their childhood. L A Hattwick (in 1937) observed a large sample of nursery school children aged from two to four and a half, and concluded that the most outstanding sex difference in behaviour was the prevalence in males of aggressive approaches to other children, negativism towards adults, marked physical activity and 'non-social behaviour problems of the overt type' (wriggling, refusing to sleep at rest time, handling the genitals) (in Oakley, 1972). ‘Males have been over-represented in all major violent crime categories since the collection of crime statistics began and the same pattern is found in all countries’ (Ray, 2005). Men turn to violence as a way to proclaim their masculinities. Although, males are the dominant group when it comes to violent crime, not all of them chose to commit illegal acts. Some males emphasise their manliness through other violent acts that are not illegal such as dangerous occupations such as being a bouncer and also the involvement in sports.

Another psychological factor is child abuse. Children that suffer from abuse from their guardian may grow up to be more violent. In most cases they are not always just affected physically but also psychologically. ‘Adults with a history of child physical abuse or witnessing domestic violence may be more likely to be violent and involved in criminal activity as they have learned that such behaviour is an appropriate method for responding to stress or conflict resolution’ (Australia Government Australian institute of family studies, 2014).

Another biological explanation of violence is the presence of traumatic brain injury in criminals. ‘A study comparing rates of TBI in non-offending and offending youths showed that offenders had a higher level of TBI (50% versus 40%) and reported incidents indicating greater biomechanical forces, such as fights and road accidents versus sports injury’ (Colantonio et al, 2014)

Racist violence is one of the topics that is constantly being discussed in today’s society. There has been an increase in racist violence especially in the united states ‘black people are being killed by police at more than twice the rate of white and Hispanic or Latino people. Black people killed by police were also significantly more likely to have been unarmed’ (The Guardian, 2015). Racist violence can be argued to be both biological and sociological. ‘Biological definitions of race have always contained elements of morphology, geographical distribution and conceptions of heredity’ (Graves, 2009). Whereas, sociological definitions refer to the cultural differences amongst people such as religion, language, traditions and beliefs.

One of the most important sociological institutions is the family. The family is the first social institution a child is exposed to. It provides the basic necessities for a child and it also transmits culture. Domestic violence takes place in the private sphere of the home and does not only affect the husband and wife but it may also affect the child that is being exposed to this kind of behaviour. Although domestic violence has not always been a serious problem. In 1782, judge Francis Buller came up with an English law that allowed a husband to beat his wife with a stick that was no thicker than his thumb. The law only became banished in 1870. It had been in practice for over 100 years and it was seen as a normal way of life. There is no evidence to suggest that it has gone away or will be going away anytime soon. Domestic violence can be from the husband watching his father beat up his mother and the mother not doing anything may allow the child to think that it is acceptable to hit a woman and he will think that it is a social norm.

Another way in which the family affects violence is idea of children growing up with a single parent instead of having the perfect and desired nuclear family. ‘Fathers provide children with male role models and can influence children's preferences, values, and attitudes, while giving them a sense of security, boosting their self-esteem, and enhancing their ability to build positive relationships with others. They also increase the degree of adult supervision in the household, which may lead to a direct reduction in

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