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Why They Kill: Analysis in Regard to Gender and Class
The book Why They Kill is a discussion of the theories of Lonnie Athens and the way in which he developed those theories about violence. …
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Through developing beliefs about research through symbolic interactionism as introduced to him as a student by Berkley professor Herbert Blumer, Athens developed qualitative research techniques in which he studied interviews with murderers to construct his theories on the construction of violent behaviors. However, there are problems with his methodology and his conclusions defined by influences of his own experiences. In an investigation of the book Why They Kill through the use of exterior resources, the theories and methodologies of Lonnie Athens are examined for their validity and continuity across cultural lines. Lonnie Athens was born in a small Appalachian town, his history within his childhood filled with what Rhodes calls ’colorful scenes’. His life outside his home and inside his home were filled with imagery and emotions of violence, even when violence was not actually committed. Where he could have followed the climate of his culture, instead Athens became a part of the academic world, an observer of the causes of the nature of violence as an expression, indoctrinated into each generation as they grow up believing in the socialization of problem solving through violent dominance. The story that Rhodes writes is the history of the academician and theorist as a way in which to examine Athens as the subject of a study of his life, which in turn was dedicated to the study of criminology and the use of violence of a means of social interaction. According to DeLisi and Beaver, the theories of Lonnie Athens were not prominently in the public consciousness until Richard Rhodes brought them to the forefront in his book Why They Kill (221). The theories of Athens are formulated based upon a need to explain extremely violent behaviors. DeLisi and Beaver state that the motivations for extreme violence can be defined for “situational definitions conducive to violence, self-images consistent with violent behavior, self-conversations with phantom communities that provide moral justification for violence, and corporal (physical) communities whose norms favor the use of violence in domestic disputes“ (221). Through an analysis of violent offenders who committed crimes such as rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, Athens developed theories that were based upon the work of Herbert Blumer from Berkley and the combined works of Blumer and Mead (DeLisi and Beaver 221). Athens creates a term for the socialization that is connected to violence to a concept of he calls ‘violentization’. This concept is based up a progressive indoctrination into violence that is begun by brutalization of the individual which is developed through a three step process. This type of dominance can be experienced through threat against the individual which is considered subjugation, through doing violence to another to provide an example of the willingness to go through with that threat termed personal horrification, and violent coaching in which the individual is given methods with which to dominate others. The next step occurs through defiance where the individual then accepts the coaching and begins problem solving through violence. The third step occurs when occasions of violent dominance engagements begin and the individual is successful in dominating others by the use of violent means. The final step is virulency. In this stage the individual is known to use violence, uses violence, and is in an incendiary position where violence can emerge at most any level to solve problems and reach goals (Delisi and Beaver 221). In looking at the way in which Athens developed his
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“Why They Kill by Richard Rhodes: Analysis in Regard to Gender and Book Report/Review”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/sociology/1429497-gender-and-social-class-in-regards-to-assigned.
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