Violence, Society and Radical Theory: Bataille, Baudrillard and Contemporary Society, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Violence, Society and Radical Theory

Bataille, Baudrillard and Contemporary Society, 1st Edition

By William Pawlett


174 pages

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Shedding light on the relationship between violence and contemporary society, this volume explores the distinctive but little-known theories of violence in the work of Georges Bataille and Jean Baudrillard, applying these to a range of violent events - events often labelled ’inexplicable’ - in order to show how even the most extreme of acts can be seen as socially meaningful. The book offers an understanding of violence as fundamental to social relations and social organisation, departing from studies that focus on individual offenders and their psychological states to concentrate instead on the symbolic relations or exchanges between agents and between agents and the structures they find themselves inhabiting. Developing the notion of symbolic economies of violence to emphasise the volatility and ambivalence of social exchanges, Violence, Society and Radical Theory reveals the importance to our understanding of violence, of the relationship between the structural or systemic violence of consumer capitalist society and forms of ’counter-violence’ which attack this system. A theoretically rich yet grounded expansion of that which can be considered meaningful or thinkable within sociological theory, this ground-breaking book will appeal to scholars and students of social and political theory and contemporary philosophy.


’In this deeply absorbing analysis, Pawlett develops the radical concepts of Bataille and Baudrillard to offer an important contribution to the study of contemporary forms of hatred and violence. Clearly written, this new theoretical analysis, with numerous case studies, reframes the debate at the heart of one of the most important issues of contemporary life, challenging us to think in a new way.’ Mike Gane, Emeritus Professor, Loughborough University, UK

About the Author

William Pawlett is Senior Lecturer in the School of Law, Social Sciences and Communication at the University of Wolverhampton, UK. He is author of Georges Bataille: The Sacred and Society (forthcoming), and Jean Baudrillard: Against Banality.

About the Series

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory
Classical and Contemporary Social Theory publishes rigorous scholarly work that re-discovers the relevance of social theory for contemporary times, demonstrating the enduring importance of theory for modern social issues. The series covers social theory in a broad sense, inviting contributions on both 'classical' and modern theory, thus encompassing sociology, without being confined to a single discipline. As such, work from across the social sciences is welcome, provided that volumes address the social context of particular issues, subjects, or figures and offer new understandings of social reality and the contribution of a theorist or school to our understanding of it. The series considers significant new appraisals of established thinkers or schools, comparative works or contributions that discuss a particular social issue or phenomenon in relation to the work of specific theorists or theoretical approaches. Contributions are welcome that assess broad strands of thought within certain schools or across the work of a number of thinkers, but always with an eye toward contributing to contemporary understandings of social issues and contexts.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Violence in Society