What Is the Most Violent Thing to Do? Mapping the Definitions and Complexities of Violence

  • Nils HammarénEmail author
Part of the Young People and Learning Processes in School and Everyday Life book series (YPLP, volume 2)


Violence is considered to be a major concern in society, not least in relation to school. In this chapter, the concept of (school) violence, its content and its building blocks are explored. Different categorizations, interpretations and manifestations of violence are presented, and the dividing lines between them are discussed and problematized. Questions highlighted in the chapter include: how is violence usually defined, and what taxonomies of violence are frequently present in research? How and in what ways is violence theorized and comprehended? The findings indicate that the concept of violence can include a variety of forms and manifestations. The ways in which human aggressiveness and violence are characterized and comprehended vary between decades, contexts, disciplines and scholars. In general, however, violence can manifest itself through physical, relational, verbal, cyber and sexual expressions, as well as through systemic, structural, symbolic and objective forms. The former manifestations relate to more explicit, concrete and direct types of violence, while the latter manifestations focus on less visible, indirect and subtle forms. This division depends in part on whether the definition is psychologically or sociologically produced. Definitions of violence are numerous yet highly overlapping, making violence a complex and far from unambiguous concept that is problematic to define.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Education, Communication and LearningUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden

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