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A Review Essay of Ervin Staub's The Roots of Evil: The Origins of Genocide and Other Group Violence

by Israel W Charny
International Journal of Group Tensions ()

Abstract

A review essay on a book by Ervin Staub, The Roots of Evil: The Origins of Genocide and Other Group Violence (Cambridge: Cambridge U Press, 1989 see listing in IRPS No. 64). Staub explores the psychological & cultural bases of genocide & other forms of group violence, focusing specifically on the Nazi Holocaust, genocide in Armenia & Cambodia, & the mass killings in Argentina. The similarity of evil in groups & in individuals is demonstrated. Evil in groups stems from ordinary motivations & psychological processes, eg, compartmentalization of functions, euphemistic language, obedience to authority, & the authoritarianism of culture. Anecdotal evidence of these processes is interwoven with theory, but the book suffers from inadequate treatment of the psychology of the individual & inadequate research on the existing literature in the field of genocide studies. 25 References. D. Generoli (Copyright 1992, Sociological Abstracts, Inc., all rights reserved.)

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