Siniša Malešević, “Why Humans Fight: The Social Dynamics of Close-Range Violence” (Cambridge UP, 2022)

In his book Why Humans Fight: The Social Dynamics of Close-Range Violence (2022, Cambridge University Press), Siniša Malešević emphasises the centrality of the social and historical contexts that make fighting possible. He argues 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 his own interviews with the former combatants, Malešević shows that one’s willingness to fight is a contextual phenomenon shaped by specific ideological and organisational logic. This book explores 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, Malešević demonstrates how social pugnacity is a relational and contextual phenomenon that possesses autonomous features.

Siniša Malešević is the chair of the sociology department at University College, Dublin. His main research interests include the study of war and violence, ethnicity, nation-states, and nationalism, empires, ideology, sociological theory and comparative historical sociology.

Christian Axboe Nielsen is associate professor of history and human security at Aarhus University in Denmark.

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