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Beyond the Banality of EvilCriminology and Genocide$
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Augustine Brannigan

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199674626

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199674626.001.0001

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Explaining Crime and Genocide: The Control Perspective

Explaining Crime and Genocide: The Control Perspective

(p.65) 4 Explaining Crime and Genocide: The Control Perspective
Beyond the Banality of Evil

Augustine Brannigan

Oxford University Press

The control perspective provides a useful general framework for understanding crime in criminology. Impulse control is common to the work of both Travis Hirschi and Norbert Elias. Elias’s arguments in The Civilizing Process (1939) and The Germans (1989) are outlined. The analysis of civilizing in the first contribution is compared with the analysis of de-civilizing processes in the second. Elias’s characterization of de-civilizing during the Nazi period as a reversion to ‘barbarism’ is questioned. In the author’s view, the feudal period and the Nazi regime did not share the same emotional economies. On the contrary, Elias’s views suggest that in political matters, the Germans were over-controlled, or externally controlled. The author revises the Eliasian perspective following Durkheim’s analysis of ‘altruistic’ pathologies where ego’s autonomy is absorbed by authoritarian rule, and crime arises when the individual’s authority for action is governed by the sovereign’s grip over the public imagination.

Keywords:   impulse control, psychogenetic change, sociogenetic change, the civilizing process, barbarism, pathological altruism, authoritarian rule, Travis Hirschi, Norbert Elias, Emile Durkheim

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