From Hate to Collective Violence: Research and Practical Implications

Anne Nassauer


This paper deals with the question of how hate leads to collective physical violence: Why is it that people who are filled with hateful emotions sometimes use violent action but mostly do not? By themselves, underlying emotions such as hate are not sufficient conditions for physical violence. However, emotions are not irrelevant for the emergence of violence. My main argument is that situational interaction sequences create emotional dynamics that make collective actors overcome their inhibition threshold and act violently. Insights into the micro-timing of interaction sequences prior to violence are therefore crucial. As social movement demonstrations have recently become reconstructable in great detail, they are especially promising for analyzing the connection of micro-timings to collective violence. If we are able to identify sequences of micro-interactions and emotional dynamics leading to violence, we might be able to avoid violence by interrupting decisive sequences.


violence, hate, micro-sociology, emotions, contentious politics

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