Progressive Violence : Theorizing the War on Terror book cover
1st Edition

Progressive Violence
Theorizing the War on Terror

ISBN 9780367821173
Published October 17, 2019 by Routledge
178 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book examines the role of collective violence in the achievement of solidarity, shedding light on the difficulty faced by sociology in theorizing violence and warfare as a result of the discipline’s tendency to idealize society in an attempt to legitimize the idea of progressive social change. Using the global War on Terror as a focal point, the authors develop this argument through the related issues of power, knowledge, and ethics, explaining the War on Terror in terms of the Anglo-American tradition of imperial power and domination. Exploring the victimage rituals through which society is brought together in the ritual domination and destruction of a constructed "villain," Progressive Violence: Theorizing the War on Terror also considers the price of the liberal moral values in terms of which the global war on terror is frequently justified, and the volume of "progressive violence" involved in advancing the cause of freedom. The authors use this case to theorize the general role of vicarious victimage ritual in the social genesis of political violence and sadism, and its calculated use by politicians to achieve their imperial aims. As such, it will appeal to scholars of sociology and social theory with interests in terrorism, violence, and geopolitics.

Table of Contents


1. Introduction

2. Imperial Background and the US Power Elite

3. Political Victimage Ritual, Evil, and the Problem of Sadism

4. Biopolitics of Terrorism

5. Ethics of Truth



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Michael Blain is Professor of Sociology at Boise State University, USA. He is the author of The Sociology Terrorism and Power, Discourse and Victimage Ritual in the War on Terror.

Angeline Kearns-Blain was previously Adjunct Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Boise State University, USA. She is the author of Stealing Sunlight: Growing up in Irishtown and I used to be Irish: Leaving Ireland, Becoming American.