Violence as an Essentially Contested Concept

  • Willem de HaanEmail author


Scientific understanding of human violence is one of the most urgent tasks of our time. Given this sense of urgency, it is shocking how little we seem to know about it (Turpin & Kurz, 1997: 1–2). In fact, even among scholars there is not even the beginning of an agreement concerning a definition of what exactly ‘violence’ is (Stanko, 2003: 3). One of the most common ways of defining violence is to only consider forms of criminal violence and to argue that violence is the use of force that has been prohibited by law (Riedel & Welsh, 2002: 3). However, whilst ‘violence’ might conventionally connote physical attack, the notion of physical violence represents a surprisingly broad spectrum of incidents (Waddington, Badger & Bull, 2004: 149)


Physical Violence School Violence Legal Definition Hate Speech Workplace Violence 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Criminal Law and Criminology, Faculty of LawUniversity of GroningenAS GroningenThe Netherlands

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