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date: 23 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

A consistent overrepresentation of men in recorded violent crimes and thus a certain disposition of male aggressiveness has been evident from the late Middle Ages to today. However, we can also detect several major shifts in the history of interpersonal male violence from the eighteenth century onward. From a cultural historical perspective, violent actions by men or women cannot be interpreted as contingent, individual acts, but rather must be seen as practices embedded in sociocultural contexts and accompanied by informal norms. Because one grand theory cannot account convincingly for the history of violence and masculinity, an array of approaches is more likely to shed light on the issue. Interestingly, shifts in the history of violence have often corresponded with changes to prevailing notions of masculinity. This essay delineates the relevant historical shifts from the early modern “culture of dispute” to the different paths of interpersonal violence over the twentieth century.

Keywords: interpersonal violence, hegemonic masculinity, male bonding, honor, gendered social control

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