Why Humans Fight: The Social Dynamics of Close-Range Violence


    Sinisa Malešević
    University College of Dublin

Sinisa Malešević, University College of Dublin
Why Humans Fight: The Social Dynamics of Close-Range Violence

In this COSMOS Talk I will offer a novel sociological answer to the age-old question: 'Why do humans fight?'. Instead of focusing on the motivations of solitary individuals, I will emphasize the centrality of the social and historical contexts that make fighting possible. I will argue that fighting is not an individual attribute, but a social phenomenon shaped by one's relationships with other people. Drawing on recent scholarship across a variety of academic disciplines as well as my own interviews with the former combatants, I will show that one's willingness to fight is a contextual phenomenon shaped by specific ideological and organisational logic. This presentation will explore the role biology, psychology, economics, ideology, and coercion play in one's experience of fighting, emphasising the cultural and historical variability of combativeness. By drawing from numerous historical and contemporary examples from all over the world, I will demonstrate how social pugnacity is a relational and contextual phenomenon that possesses autonomous features.