The Socioeconomic Function of Evil

Stephen Hall

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    This article challenges various theories of the capitalist epoch as a process of civilization to posit a new theoretical framework built around the concept of pseudo-pacification. Principal indicators of civilizing momentum, such as the decline in homicide and brutal punishment, are relocated in a perspective that juxtaposes them with the concomitant proliferation of non-violent crimes and the types of aggressive sociosymbolic competition that energise and structure consumer culture. What seems to have occurred is not the repression or dissipation of aggressive libidinal energy but its conversion into a dynamic yet largely pacified form that performs the dual function of protecting property and expanding production and trade by intensifying and democratising sociosymbolic competition. The pseudo-pacification process does not counteract but stimulates and reproduces aggressive drives in sublimated forms to create a fragile social peace whose potential disintegrative forces are manufactured at the very core of its own socioeconomic and cultural systems.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationViolence and Society: Towards a New Sociology
    Place of PublicationChichester
    ISBN (Print)9781118942017
    Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2015

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