Political Violence

The study of political violence sits at the centre of my research agenda. My core concerns are microsociological, exploring how ‘ordinary’ individuals come to be able to carry out extreme acts of violence in particular situations. In particular, I articulate a set of theories stressing the frequently ‘non-intentional’ ways in which violations of human rights and humanitarian law frequently occur. To support these theories, I have conducted extensive fieldwork interviewing Syrian and US perpetrators of torture and other war crimes, produced a dataset containing over a thousand ethnomethodologically-analyzed videos of violence (torture, mutilation, civilians targeting, executions, etc.) ‘in action,’ and other data sources.

Work outlining my findings has been published in leading journals and in monograph form.

Following from this work, I am now leading the Violence Prevention (VIPRE) Initiative, which explores how new sociological (material-semiotic) perspectives can aid in the prevention of violent human rights abuses.