Wolff-Michael Roth: The Emergence and Unfolding of Violent Events: A Transactional Approach. [Abstract]

Standard approaches to the analysis of crisis situations either take some psychological stance, where the individual is the unit of analysis, or they investigate groups of actors taking turns, where individuals act following their own interpretation of what others have done. Philosophers have characterized these two approaches as self-actional and interactional. Actions and interpretations clearly can be assigned to one or the other actor, which allows allocating the responsibility for a violent event to someone “culprit.” A radically different, rarely chosen approach is a transactional one, where each action is understood as joint action both in space and in time that cannot be decomposed into independent individual contributions. In this paper, following a sketch of the differences in the epistemological underpinnings between standard and transactional approaches, exemplifying analyses are presented and discussed from a violent encounter that left a streetcar passenger dead and a police officer before the courts of justice for homicide. Discussion topics include the attribution of cause and effect, understanding the historical trajectories of participant actors, and the consequences of analyzing events in terms of events (not substantive entities, and inter-actions).

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