Political violence: Benjamin, Bourdieu, and the law

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter explores the phenomenon of political violence in its many forms. It focuses on the distinctions of physical, structural or cultural, and symbolic violence, rather than examining the distinctions between riots and assassinations, for example, often seen as traditional forms of political violence. In doing so, the chapter analyses the role of violence at the very core of the modern nation-state, especially through the distinction Walter Benjamin made between law-preserving and law-making violence. The chapter concludes that political violence is often at its worst, most intense, and most wide spread when trust in political institutions falter, and when significant portions of a given polity no longer find these institutions credible or legitimate. Conversely, political violence can be minimized through the construction of strong, inclusive, and vibrant political institutions based on principles of inclusion and procedural justice, qualities John Galtung saw as the foundations for positive peace.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Handbook of U.S. National Security
EditorsDerek Reveron, Nikolas Gvosdev, John Cloud
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9780190680015
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameOxford Handbook
PublisherOxford University Press


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