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The focus of this discipline is on how we get through each day smoothly in pursuit of social order. Without thinking about it, we employ various strategies to avoid confrontational situations, or if that is not possible, to avoid humiliation and loss of self respect. It is all about preserving one's self-esteem and image.

Some of us are psychically inured to tension and conflict; we have strong senses of self. For those of us not so blessed, we often cope by other means, such as:

  • Attacking a victim--weaker than ourselves--privately and opportunistically;
  • Belonging to a violence enforcing organization--such as an armed service or police force;
  • Performing publicly to win admiration via approval from an audience or via the voting booth.

The behavioral turf lies between the poles of physically acting out via assault and the more passive, but healthier, method of simply winning approval of one's peers by putting our talents on display. Of course our psychological leaning toward aggression and/or obedience plays a role in where we are in the continuum of behavior. Still, this continuum is an added perspective.

In acting out resentments some of us volunteer for combat missions; others opt for sporting events; still others sadly, go after weak opponents in private--serial killers being an extreme example. They are the most extreme of the sociopathic fringe of humanity.

There is nothing in this new "discipline" to clearly distinguish micro-social theory from prior constructs--yet. We say yet, because Randall Collins has written a book, Violence, Princeton Press, that vividly describes much of the violence in our times. While Collins' theory falls far short of being science, it should not be discounted. He has colleagues of significant stature: Erving Goffman, S.N. Kalyvas, J.M. Weinstein, J. Maynard Smith, Jack Katz and Richard Dawkins. They have all contributed to this budding science. That they are all groping is part and parcel of new science. It pans out or it doesn't.

Meanwhile, the connections we have made between our genetic heritage and our in-born temperaments provides a more satisfying explanation of violence in our times.


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