For quite some time, theories on the role of intent in genocide were conceptually frozen in polarised liberal and post-liberal, or purpose- and knowledge-based approaches, respectively. In accordance with recent criminological thought that moves beyond the narrow debate, this article develops a new sociological perspective on the role of intent in genocide. Drawing on frame analysis it is argued that intent is mainly relevant for framing genocidal action at the macro level. However, individual low-level perpetrators act from a large number of different motivations, of which ideologies of intent are only one. Others range from obedience to authority, coercion and group pressures to sadism, opportunism or the allure of status and power. Further, rethinking genocide with social movement theory helps to combine purpose- and knowledge-based approaches without abandoning a distinct concept of genocide.
Williams, Timothy and Pfeiffer, Dominik
"Unpacking the Mind of Evil: A Sociological Perspective on the Role of Intent and Motivations in Genocide,"
Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal:
Available at: https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/gsp/vol11/iss2/8
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