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date: 22 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Do changes in patterns of violence in Europe and North America from the eighteenth century to the present day reflect an increasing marginalization of interpersonal violence in social and cultural life? Can these changes be interpreted as a consequence of the benefits of specifically modern forms of economic organization and social interaction, as well as profound alterations in cultural and political life? These questions have exercised the minds of historians on both sides of the Atlantic for at least the last forty years and have provoked a range of methodological and theoretical debates. This essay offers an overview of the key texts and debates by examining both quantitative and contextual research on interpersonal violence and provides some wider reflections on the place of such violence in Western cultures since the eighteenth century.

Keywords: murder, violence, gender, biology, rural and urban crime

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