The Emergence of Violent Behaviour: An Examination of Individual and Social Factors: Personality Theory

Personality Theory

Individualistic explanations of criminality can go beyond the biological to consider the effects of cognition and personality in the emergence of violent behaviour.

Hans Eysenck first articulated his theory in Crime and Personality, published in 1964. He proposed that a child’s process of socialisation occurs through conditioning, as outlined by Pavlov. (See below image of Pavlov’s Classical Conditioning, famously known as Pavlov’s Dog). .

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Antisocial behaviour is discouraged through punishment by parents or teachers and this produces a natural fear response which serves to maintain socially acceptable behaviour.

Following on from this notion Eysenck proposed that certain people condition more easily to their environment than others, and this is as a result of their personality, which is created by both biological and social factors.

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Eysenck argues that conditionability is in a large part genetically determined by the inherited characteristic of one’s nervous system (Hollin, 1992). Personality, as outlined by Eysenck comprises three main dimensions: Extroversion (E), Neuroticism (N), and Psychoticism (P), each of which comprises a spectrum upon which an individual can be placed. Eysenck suggests that “in general terms, we would expect persons with strong antisocial inclinations to have high P, high E, and high N scores” (p.58).

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The ease with which these dimensions can be measured makes Eysenck’s theory very testable.  Offenders have been found to have high scores for all three dimensions, (for a summary of this research see Bartol, 1999; Eysenck, 1987; Powell 1977) though the evidence for E is mixed, with some studies even reporting lower scores for offenders on this dimension (Hollin, 1989).

While there is immense support for the prediction that offenders will score high for P it is a rather tautological statement as “the measurement of the former includes items that look very much like the latter” (Furnham & Thompson, 1991, p586).

Conclusions which have been drawn from Eysenck’s personality theory have helped to expand other areas of research which have focused more closely upon the thinking patterns or cognitions that offenders have.

Narrative Theories

Some researchers, most notably Yochelson and Samenow (1976) have argued that criminals have different ways of thinking and reacting to events than non-criminals.

Narrative psychologists, most notably McAdams (1988) have explored the idea that, like literary constructions, we all create a personal story or narrative which can be analysed in terms of plot and theme.

Canter (1994) was the first to explore the idea that the ‘inner narratives’ of offenders can be explored. In his book Criminal Shadows (1994) he suggests that “through his actions the criminal tells us about how he has chosen to live his life. The challenge is to reveal his destructive life story; to uncover the plot in which crime appears to play such a significant part…” (p299).

In the criminal population their ‘criminal narrative’ can be studied to reveal the way the offender thinks about themselves, their victim and their crime.

In one major study discussed in Investigative Psychology: Offender Profiling and the Analysis of Criminal Action (2009) the ‘roles’ imprisoned offenders assigned themselves when committing a crime are explored. The roles questionnaire, which had been produced in an earlier study by Canter, Kaouri and Ioannou (2003), was given to 71 male offenders to complete.

This allowed a very abstract concept to be quantified and rendered measurable for the purpose of research. When an SSA (smallest space analysis) was conducted on the responses the results surprisingly demonstrated a close relationship with the four archetypal story forms (comedy, irony, tragedy and romance) outlined by Northrop Frye in his Anatomy of Criticism (1957).

The offenders responses could be grouped into four main archetypal roles; the victim, the adventurer, the professional and the revenger, depending upon how they viewed themselves in relation to their crime.

On the surface it may be difficult to understand how research into criminal narratives can be of use in the investigation of violent crime, but an understanding of the implicit narrative processes which underlie experience and behaviour may provide an interesting guide to understanding criminal actions and understanding how an offender sees his or her self and indeed their victims. It could also be employed to enrich interview strategies and thus maximize the amount of helpful information obtained from a suspect.

Narrative theory could also be expanded upon as a method of treatment for offenders who live by ‘faulty’ or dangerous narrative constructs. For example, those who regard themselves as victims, who have no control over their lives and end up committing violent acts because they have ‘no other option’, can be encouraged to adopt a more central locus of control and explore areas of life over which they do have control and influence. This may help to reduce rates of recidivism.

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The Emergence of Violent Behaviour: An Examination of Individual and Social Factors: Beyond Genetics: Neurological, Biochemical and Neonatal

Beyond Genetics: Neurological, Biochemical and Neonatal

One such area which has received significant attention is the examination of the role hormones play in aggression and violence.

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Testosterone and Serotonin have each received particular interest. In The Beast Within, Boyd (2000) discusses the correlation between the age group for which criminal behaviour is highest and the age at which testosterone peeks and remarked upon its significance.

Dabb, Carr, Frady and Riad (cited in Anderson, 2007) conducted a study which measured the salivary testosterone levels of 692 incarcerated adult males; this was compared with their criminal history and behaviour whilst in prison. They reported that offenders who were convicted for violent assaults had higher levels of testosterone than those who were convicted for instrumental crimes such as property or drug related offences.

Whilst such studies are interesting, the relationship proposed is far from conclusive.  Some critics have postulated that testosterone levels fluctuate throughout the day and it is this fluctuation which correlates with aggression (Archer 1991, cited in Anderson 2007).

The association between high levels of testosterone and predatory sexual behaviour has led to the suggestion of surgical or chemical castration as a proposed treatment; this being the most common method of reducing testosterone.

There are of course significant ethical and medical considerations which must be borne in mind with such interventions, see Weinberger, Sreenivasan, Garrick and Osran (2005) for a detailed discussion.

Some critics regard the practise as immoral as Anderson (2007) argues “such treatment is really just a form of negative eugenics as the man is prevented from having sexual relations and, therefore reproducing” (p136).

 

There is however a significant body of research which indicates that for serious sexual offenders who undergo an orchiectomy recidivism rates are dramatically reduced (Stürup, 1968, Cornu, 1973 cited in Weinberger et al, 2005)

Information gathered about recidivism rates for offenders can be a valuable tool for assessing the risk in judging whether to release prisoners back into society. Despite the many drawbacks of research into biochemical influences on criminal behaviour there is more hope here for the development of appropriate treatments, as Anderson explains:

“low serotonin levels have been found to result in impulsivity and violence…and it can be corrected by something as simple as diet” (p7).

 

If violent behaviour has any base in biology then this knowledge can be used to discover the most appropriate treatment for offenders or even to detect those vulnerable to delinquency.

Raine (1993) for example, has explored the association between hypoglycaemia and violent behaviour reporting that any drop in glucose can reduce the brains ability to function normally and result in irritability and aggression.

Many studies involving both human and animal subjects have offered support to this hypothesis (reviewed in Venables & Raine, 1987). Many people experience a drop in blood sugar levels around 11 – 11.30am and several studies have found that in prisons this time period corresponds with the majority of cases of inmate violence (Raine, 1993).

Hypoglycaemia can be easily rectified by regular eating habits and a good diet, providing prisoners with a mid-morning snack could therefore be an easy way of reducing prison violence.

 

The Emergence of Violent Behaviour: An Examination of Individual and Social Factors: Genetics and Criminal Behaviour

Genetics and Criminal Behaviour: Twin Studies

The principal methodology used to study the relationship between genetics and criminality has typically been longitudinal family studies, which examine the concordance rates for criminal behaviour between monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins; that is, how frequently both twins are involved in criminal behaviour.

MZ twins are known as identical twins and DZ twins are non identical twins.

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While the former (MZ) develop from the splitting of a single egg and share almost 100% of the same genes, fraternal twins (DZ) share 50% like ordinary siblings. Thus when DZ twins share the same environment any significant differences recorded between them are likely to be due to genetics.

This provides a unique opportunity to explore genetics and criminal behaviour.

Whilst many of these studies have indicated support for a genetic component to criminality (Bartol, 1999 recorded an average concordance rate for criminal behaviour for MZ twins at 55% and 17% for DZ twins) there are other factors which can have an important influence.

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MZ twins may share a closer relationship than is typical of DZ twins and may therefore experience more similar treatment by parents, peers and teachers and develop similar interests and behavioural responses (Ioannou, 2008).

 

It could be this rather than genetics which dictates the concordance rates reported.

The concept of criminal inheritability may be questionable but knowing that crime can ‘run in families’, whether through genetic inheritability or shared environmental factors,  could help to identify vulnerable individuals who could be targeted for additional support during childhood to help teach them appropriate coping skills and thus help to steer them away from a potential life of crime.

The influence of criminogenic families is discussed in more detail by those who favour a social explanation of criminality.

Contemporary proponents of the biological basis for criminality, such as Rowe, (2001) and Anderson, (2007) do not ignore the influence of the environment on behaviour, as Anderson notes “most behaviour is genetically predetermined to be affected by the environment” (p.60). It is perhaps more helpful to consider biological factors as offering predispositions which interact with one’s environment to produce behaviour.

This offers a much less reductionist view in which biology is not regarded as destiny but as something which can be worked with to reduce the risk of violent behaviour.

Biological explanations of behaviour can go beyond the purely genetic to examine a much broader field of physiological influence including neurological, biochemical and neonatal elements.

Research has been conducted into a vast number of different factors which can impact upon the development of violent behaviour.

Continue Reading – Page 3 – Beyond Genetics: neurological, biochemical and neonatal

The Emergence Of Violent Behaviour: Individual and Social Factors

We are exposed to shocking stories and statistics about violent crime everyday. Of all criminal behaviour, violent crime is the most abhorred and feared.

But why do some of us become violent offenders?

This article will examine some of the main theories and explanations for the emergence of violent offending.

The Emergence of Violent Behaviour: Introduction      

We are exposed to shocking stories and statistics about violent crime everyday. Of all criminal behaviour, violent crime is the most abhorred and feared.

But why do some of us become violent offenders?

This article will examine some of the main theories and explanations for the emergence of violent offending.

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Most theories of criminality can be broadly described as falling into one of two groups, those that consider inner factors affecting the individual such as aspects of their biology, genetics or cognitive structure and those which focus upon outer factors such as the social world the individual is immersed in.

This has often been referred to in Psychology as the Nature verses Nurture debate.

Any attempt to understand the complex phenomenon of criminal behaviour must make reference to a number of different influential factors if it is to be considered comprehensive.

This article will also explore how the understanding and identification of these psychological factors which may explain the emergence of violent criminal behaviour could assist police in investigating violent crime and working with offenders.

Individual Factors: Historical accounts

While contemporary theories of criminal behaviour do acknowledge the importance of an interactionist perspective which combines biological, environmental and psychological elements, certain historical accounts have focused exclusively upon the question of biology at the expense of all other concerns, e.g.: phrenology, physiognomy and genetic inheritability.

Such individualistic explanations of criminal behaviour regard the source of such deviance as residing within the person: in other words criminals are born not made.

in other words criminals are born and not made.

Physiognomy and Phrenology

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The concept of Physiognomy which was popularised by Swiss Pastor Johann Lavater (1741-1801), and Phrenology, which was developed by Franz Gall (1758-1828), was historically used to determine personality abnormalities in a person’s physical appearance (Fuller & Thompson, 1978).

This concept was expanded upon in the latter part of the 19th century by Italian physician and criminal anthropologist Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909).

Lombroso proposed that criminals were genetically determined and could be identified by certain ‘atavistic’ characteristics such as sloping foreheads, large ears and high cheekbones which he determined were more common amongst the criminal population than law abiding citizens and were demonstrative of their arrested development.

Lombroso regarded such individuals as “born that way” and unchangeable (Niehoff, 1999).

His ideas bore substantial influence until they were vigorously challenged by Charles Goring in The English Convict (1913) who demonstrated that they had no statistical significance, following which they fell out of favour.

Dangers of Biological Determinism

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There is an inherent danger in such biologically deterministic theories and they have been manipulated and abused for the purpose of genocidal regimes such as the Nazi’s persecution of the Jews and cases of forced sterilisation.

They offer a reductionist explanation which does not allow for the personal freedom to choose one’s own path in life or acknowledge the social processes the individual is immersed in.

Some critics have however cautioned against the reactionist rejection of biological explanations as Anderson (2007) explains “the fact that an idea has been misused does not mean it should be forgotten or that it is wrong” (p.5).

The relationship between genetic factors and criminality therefore warrants further investigation.

Second Page: Genetics and Criminal Behaviour

How to Become a Forensic Psychologist

What does a Forensic Psychologist do?

Chartered Forensic Psychologists typically work to assess offenders and provide appropriate interventions (e.g. therapy) in prison settings or secure hospitals. They can also be asked to perform risk assesments through using a number of psychometric tools in order to asses whether an individual is safe to be released back into the community.

Forensic Psychologists can also be called upon to give evidence as an expert witness in court. They typically work for the prison service, the police, the NHS or in higher academic institutions. Continued research and development of ones knoledge in the field is also an essential componant of the job role.

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How do I know if I want to study this?

Deciding what to study at University and consequently what to do for your future career is a daunting and difficult task. The cost of a University education is sky rocketing recently which makes it even more important to make the correct choice. It is therefore advisable that you do as much research as you can into your chosen subject, University and potential future career as this will only help you to make an informed and good decision.

Forensic Psychology is a fascinating field to study and there is plenty of jobs available and the potential for much future growth. It has a future career path built into it, which you can follow all the way through untill you become chartered. This is helpfull as some degrees that are more academic and general do not guide you into any particular future career, which can be problematic for some students.
The best way to decide if Forensic Psychology is for you is to try and study a module in it during your undergraduate psychology degree, this way you can get a taste for what it is like. Another great way is to try and get actual hands on experience in the field. This can be very difficult but I will discuss options open to you further down.

Reading around the subject can help you to get a good understanding of what the subject is like to study at University and what kind of things you will be learning about. It is always advisble to do as much reading as you can around the subject area. Also the internet is a great repository of information and spending sometime googling the subject should bring up a wealth of information which can help you to decide if it is for you.

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Undergraduate Degree

The first real step in becoming a Forensic Psychologist is to study for an undergraduate degree in Psychology, or a related discipline such as Psychology and Crimonology or Psychology and Criminal Justice.

The key thing to remember here is that the degree must be accredited by the British Psychological Society as providing you with the Graduate Basis for Registration. This is something you can check by emailing the course co-ordinator and asking them, or it may say on your University’s website. If the undergraduate degree does not have this GBR then you will not be able to get a place on an accredited Masters course.

Most credible Masters courses require a 2:1 or usually a high 2:1 to ensure a place as competition is fierce. Your application for a place will be viewed higher if you can show evidence of relevant work experience, volunteering, charity work etc.

What if my undergrduate degree is NOT in Psychology?

You can still proceed to a Masters even if your undergraduate degree is not in a Psychology relted discipline but you will need to study for a conversion course to Psychology first. This course typically lasts one year studying full time, or two years part time and should cover the basics of Psychology and research methods. Again this course needs to be accredited by the BPS as providing GBR, and not all do, so please check first!

Masters Degree in Forensic Psychology

Now you have got your BSc you need to apply for a place on an accredited Masters (MSc) in Forensic Psychology or Investigative and Forensic Psychology. This course needs to be recognised by the BPS as providing the next stage in training. You can check this again through contacting the University directly or checking their website. The BSP should also have a list of accredited courses on their website.

Picking which University to study at now will need to be guided by where the best accredited courses are taught. You may need to be willing to move to go to the best institution.

Unfortunately once you have completed your MSc that still is not the end of the process, there is one final stage before you can achieve chartered Forensic Psychology status.

Stage 2 Training and Development

The final stage in getting chartered involves two years on the job supervision under a qualified Forensic Psychologist and the requirement of producing a portfolio which demonstrates learning and knoledge in four key competancies. This work will usually need to be undertaken within a practical setting such as a prison or secure hospital as a portion of the work will require assesments, and as such access to clients is required.

This part of the process can be quite difficult and lengthy and often takes longer than the two years indicated by the BPS. It also costs addional money as membership fees to the BPS must be paid, and the four pieces of work which are done cost money to be graded. So it is worth baring in mind the additional cost associted with this stage of the training. It may be possible however to get a contribution from your employer towards the costs as they are likely to want to see you qualified too.

Alternative Pathway

I have been informed that there is an alternative way of getting qualifed, and this involves studying for a Doctorate in Forensic Psychology which combines the Masters and the Stage 2 training allowing the recipient to become chartered immediatly upon graduation. This can however be very costly, so it will depend on your financial situation.

Forensic Psychology: Court Report

 What is a court report?

A court report is a document that is produced by a Forensic Psychologist which is designed to provide their expert opinion on a certain matter and provide recommendations to the court. This article is based on the judicial system at work in the United Kingdom, please be aware that things may be different in other countries.

In order to be able to work as an expert witness and provide court reports you are required to be a chartered forensic psychologist, registered with the BPS, in posession of suitable public liability insurance and an expert in a certain field or area of research / study. I have gathered the following information from a chartered forensic psychologist who has many years experience working as an expert witness and providing court reports.

 

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Who usually employs the Psychologist?


Typically Forensic Psychologists work in the Civil arena, this area provides the most work and the highest paid, whereas work in the criminal field is less well paid.

How much can you make per report?

A report for the prosecution is less well paid than for the defence, for the prosecution a psychologist would typically be paid between £800 – £3,000. A report for the defence would be worth significantly more. A typical full report would take approximately 1-2 months to produce. In addition to the above if an appearance at court is required, a psychologist can expect to receive £500 per day at court. This money is paid regardless of whether the psychologist is actually called upon to speak in court that day.

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Guidance on writing a court report

A court report can be required to provide an expert opinion on a number of different things. There is a significant amount of work available in family courts where a court report may be required to give advice as to whether it would be appropriate to return children deemed at-risk to their parents, and to advise as to whether any interventions are required. There are many importance consequences that may occur as a result of the information contained within the report, it is therefore extremely important that the psychologist abide by all appropriate and reevant professional guidelines to avoid charges of negligence.

The psychologist must always remember to act impartially, regardless of who has employed them. They are not a ‘a hired gun’ for either the prosecution or the defence. All judgements and opinions they provide must be based in fact and solid academic research. As an expert witness they are unique in the court room in that they are allowed to voice their opinion (rather than just the facts). However, this opinion must be backed up by research that they can quote. It is important for the psychologist to be up-to-date with the literature available on the subject and thoroughly conversant in it. It wouldn’t look good in court if the lawyers for the other side were able to demonstrate that there were studies or theories that they were unfamiliar with.

Structure of a court report?

The structure of the court report is important. The following steps offer an outline of how the report should be structured and what information it should include.

  1. The first paragraph should introduce the psychologist and outline their qualifictions and relevant training, experience, professional membership etc.
  2. The second section should outline who has ordered this report and for what purpose.
  3. The third section should list the sources of information the psychologist has drawn from, this will include the letter of instruction, the case history, interviews with the individuals concered or their caregivers and any psychometric tests consulted.
  4. The fourth section is where the main body of the report begins. It is up to the individual psychologist how this is structured and may be guided by the points raised in the instruction letter from the lawyer. This section should usually provide a summary of the case history, a forensic assesment and a discussion of the psychometric test results.
  5. The final section provides the psychologists conclusions and recommendations. Again, these must be based in fact and supported by research or the psychometric test results.
  6. Finally the report is closed with an oath.

 

Things to remember:

  • The first thing to remember is that each and every paragraph must be uniquely numbered to allow for easy reference in court.
  • All language must be clear and free from unnecessary psychobabble
  • Opinions are allowed but ONLY if they are backed up with fact and academic research
  • The Psychologist must work independently and not on behalf of a particular side, regardless of who hired them.

 

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Honour Killing in the Twenty-First Century – A Critical Book Review

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Honour Killing in the Twenty-First Century by Nicole Pope

(Palgrave Macmillan: New York, 2012.  ISBN: 978–0–230–33978–1)

Introduction

The concept of honour killing has existed for centuries in Middle Eastern and South Asian populations, but in recent years it has become increasingly visible in the Western media following a number of high profile cases in various European Countries.

It remains a controversial area which is difficult to research, this is in part due to cultural and religious sensitivity, but also due to the reluctance of those involved to discuss their motives and experiences; as the purpose of an honour killing is typically to cleanse alleged dishonour; family members are averse to bringing further attention to their perceived shame (Chesler, 2009).

It is from within this context the author sets out to conduct her own investigation into honour killing, regarding herself as well positioned to carry out the task following her experience of living and working in the Middle East and Turkey as a Journalist for many years. It is through a Journalistic style that Pope’s ethnographic research is recounted to the reader. Through this medium the author attempts to examine honour killing and position it within the larger context of violence against women and also assess the degree to which it is a phenomenon solely associated with Islam.

Honour Killing in the Twenty-First Century attempts to examine the concept of honour and unravel its complex association with murder by firstly investigating its historical origins and through doing so dispelling the myth that it is a problem which stems from Islam. Secondly it attempts to locate honour killings within the larger sphere of violence against women by arguing that it should not be regarded as a distinct phenomenon but should be seen as an extreme expression of the oppression women experience globally and should be tackled as such.

Structure and Organisation

The book is divided into eighteen separate chapters, preceded and followed by a preface and conclusion respectively. Every other chapter is dedicated to a particular case study of one incidence of honour based violence which allows for the contextualisation of the research discussed; it should be noted that not all of these case studies resulted in murder, some of the individuals featured survive and as such provide an interesting alternative perspective into the legacy of fear which remains with those who survive.

Following each individual account is a chapter which discusses the complex issues surrounding this controversial topic beginning with its historical origins and moving forward to examine its relationship with religion, patriarchy and to violence against women.

The author makes it clear in the preface that although her initial intention was to go in search of the ‘old traditions’ which still propagate honour killings, this was quickly replaced by the belief that “an arch of patriarchal bullying links honor killings to crimes committed against women in Western societies, even if the narrative and the socio-political background is different.” (xi). This position is maintained throughout the rest of the book and serves as a framework through which honour based violence is examined.

The scope of the book was therefore broadened to allow discussion of other practises of oppression and violence against women including crimes of passion, the dowry deaths of India and incidences of mutilation by acid.

The Sources

There is a scarcity of primary data available on honour killings (Kulczycki & Windle, 2011) and as such it is commendable that Pope presents a discussion of some primary sources including interviews with activists, lawyers, community leaders and the presentation of case studies.

Data from secondary sources is also discussed with a number of court reports and newspaper articles presented and evaluated. There are a number of methodological observations which must be borne in mind when considering the literature however. There is a difficulty in establishing the validity of data collected through interviews as it may be compromised by the interviewee’s willingness to engage with the researcher especially in relation to such a topic, the potential bias of the interviewer, whether this is unintentionally communicated or not and the difficulty occasionally presented by language barriers.

Pope’s interview with Rojin in Chapter 1 is conducted through an interpreter from her immediate family; the very family from which she was in danger. Similarly the secondary sources examined only reflect the cases which have been reported to the police or gone to court and as such may not be representative or generalizable.

The most important and resonant theme which emerges from reading this book is the authors claim that our current understanding of honour based violence is too restrictive.

Pope argues that the definition should be broadened to include other examples of oppression and violence against women such as forced marriage, bride exchanges and dowry deaths as they are all part of the same expression of patriarchal rule which survives through the subjugation of women.

Furthermore Pope argues in Chapter 2: Honor and Shame that through an exploration of the concept of ‘honour’ and its varying interpretations around the world, it is possible to regard honour killing as not dissimilar to domestic violence and the so called ‘crimes of passion’ that those in Western Countries are more familiar with.

Honour Based Violence and Islam

The theoretical debate surrounding whether honour killings are a unique practise specific to certain cultures and traditions or whether they form part of the greater issue of domestic violence features extensively in the literature on honour killings (see Welchman & Hassain, 2005; Warrick, 2005, Khan, 2006).

Associating honour killing with domestic violence removes it from its cultural and religious trappings placing it more in a global sphere and is a position adopted by a number of other academics (Begikhani, 2005; Korteweg, 2012).

The conception of honour killing as domestic violence has however been criticised, perhaps most vociferously by Phyllis Chesler (2009) who has argued that honour killings are a distinct form of homicide which needs to be examined as such and that perpetrators of domestic violence are seldom celebrated in society and are more often than not ostracised, while those who order and perform honour killings are regarded as heroes and there is little social stigma attached.

Chesler argues forcefully against the opinion held by Muslim advocacy groups, which purport that honour based violence has nothing to do with Muslims or Islam, and that differentiating between honour killing and domestic violence is discriminatory. Pope does not discuss the work of Chesler or other academics holding the converse opinion which is unfortunate as it would have enriched the experience of reading about this issue by contextualising the author’s position within the debate.

The Origins of Honour Killing

The degree to which honour killings can be regarded as primarily an Islamic or Muslim problem and the issue of discrimination naturally emerge out of the first debate and feature as the second most prominent theme which runs throughout the book.

Pope discusses the origins of the concept of honour and relates it back to pre-Islamic traditions arguing that it is a practice which has been performed within a number of different religious and cultural contexts.

Pope draws on a number of reported cases of honour killing amongst Christians and Sikhs to demonstrate that it is a phenomenon which is not solely associated with Islam but is unable to provide any statistics to illuminate the extent that this is the case. There is similarly little discussion of any empirical research into contemporary attitudes held towards honour killing despite there being a small amount of available research to draw from (Araji & Carlson, 2001; Sheeley, 2007).

Pope does however discuss the danger of narrow minded interpretations of Islam extensively in Chapter 12: Religion, Tradition and Patriarchy and discusses the ways in which misinterpretation whether deliberate or not can incite misogynistic attitudes and the belief that violence committed in the name of honour is permitted.

Pope states in the preface that her intention was to broaden the concept of honour-killing to include other forms of violence against women and this is achieved through the many different case studies presented.

The strong focus on providing in-depth qualitative case studies provides an insight into the personal experiences of those affected and this helps to bring attention to a serious issue facing women across the globe.  However the lack of discussion of any real empirical studies means that the reader is left with little understanding of the few key studies which have been conducted in this area of research.

The book is written with Journalistic flair rather than typical stilted academic prose which has the effect of making it accessible to a wide audience thereby increasing its ability to raise awareness but in doing this Pope risks alienating some ‘serious’ academics who may question the validity of her work because of the problematic methodology and prose style.

Taking that into account however, the book still stands overall as an important contribution to this woefully under-researched area of study and provides a general introduction to the concept of honour based violence and those who have fallen victim to it.

Please contact me if you would like a list of the references contained above.