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Socialization and Violence: A Framework Essay (SWP 48)

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This article sets the stage – substantively, theoretically and methodologically – for a proposed journal special issue. Its analytic focus is socialization, or the process through which actors adopt the norms and rules of a given community. I argue that it is key to understanding violence in civil war (rebel groups and society), national militaries, post-conflict societies, and urban gangs. Socialization has a long history in the social sciences, but has been little used to study groups and organizations in conflict settings. This article and the project it introduces thus rethink core features of socialization, drawing upon insights from several disciplines, including sociology, anthropology, political science, and organization-institutional theory. We explore the link between socialization and violence in a number of cases – para-military patrols in Guatemala, inter-communal relations in the Bosnian civil war, gangs in post-conflict Nicaragua, rebel groups in Sierra Leone and Columbia, and the Israeli military, among others.I begin by reviewing the key literatures to which we speak – socialization and civil conflicts. The next section – the article’s substantive core – adapts theories of socialization to the study of violence. Here, I also survey the methods contributors utilize to capture and identify socialization as a discrete phenomenon in the various empirical contributions. I conclude by highlighting several cutting-edge challenges for students of the socialization/violence nexus and introduce the nine essays that comprise the remainder of the special issue.
Jeffrey Checkel homepage:
ISSN 1922-5725
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Checkel, Jeffrey T., Socialization and Violence: A Framework Essay, Simons Papers in Security and Development, No. 48/2015, School for International Studies, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, November 2015.
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