Family Activism in the Aftermath of Fatal Violence  book cover
1st Edition

Family Activism in the Aftermath of Fatal Violence

ISBN 9780367422783
Published November 30, 2020 by Routledge
186 Pages

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Book Description

Family Activism in the Aftermath of Fatal Violence explores how family and family activism work at the intersection of personal and public troubles and considers what influence family testimonies of fatal violence can have on matters of crime, justice, and punishment.

The problem of fatal violence represents one end of a long continuum of violence that marks society, the effects of which endure in families and friends connected through ties of kinship, identity and social bonds. The aftermath of fatal violence can therefore be an intensely personal encounter which confronts families with disorder and uncertainty. Nevertheless, bereaved families are often found at the forefront of efforts to expose injustice, rouse public consciousness, and drive forward social change that seeks to prevent violence from happening again. This book draws upon ethnographic research with those bereaved by gun violence who became involved in family activism in the context of fatal violence: namely, the attempts by bereaved families to manage their experiences of violent death through public expressions of grief and become proxies for wider debates on social injustice. This is an ever more pressing issue in a landscape which increasingly sees the delegation of responsibility to families and communities that are left to deal with the aftermath of violence.

An accessible and compelling read, this book will appeal to students and scholars of criminology, sociology, cultural studies, and all those interested in learning more about the after-effects of fatal violence.

Table of Contents

Part One: Personal Troubles  1.Concept and Emergence of Family Activism  2.Trauma  3.Recovery and Repair  Part Two: Public Issues  4.Rebuilding Family and Community  5.Maternal Grief and Activism  6.The Public Significance of Family Activism



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Elizabeth A. Cook is a Lecturer in the Violence and Society Centre at City, University of London. Previously, she worked at the Universities of Oxford and Manchester. She researches in the areas of family, family activism and fatal violence.




Elizabeth Cook displays her colours early with reference to C. Wright Mills and her Family Activism in the Aftermath of Fatal Violence is itself a splendid example of his notion of the sociological imagination. Mothers Against Violence, a small, activist, Manchester group whose members were shaken by the impact of gun violence, serves as a prism through which she can observe the fused workings of bereavement, ethnicity, kinship, gender, matriarchy, ideas of justice, ideas of community, conceptions of moral purpose (often mediated by a sense of Christian mission), attempts to memorialise the dead and much else. It is thoughtful, sophisticated, compelling and highly accessible. So many voluntary organisations arise and disappear without trace, not much studied and dimly understood, and it is providential that she has so ably captured the life-world of one such group in its prime.Paul Rock, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics

This important and original book explores how the effects of fatal violence reverberate through kin and community ties. Using careful qualitative fieldwork and detailed interviews with those bereaved by gun violence, the author explores what families in this unenviable position do with their circumstances and how the family can serve as a site of resistance and activism. It is very well written and convincingly argued and draws the reader into a deep consideration of these processes. The book makes an important contribution to the academic study of fatal violence and its aftermath, victims, families, and the broader fi elds of crime, justice, and punishment. This excellent book is highly recommended for anyone with an interest in the wider repercussions of crime and victimisation and how they endure in people’s lives.

Rachel Condry, Professor of Criminology, University of Oxford