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Jo Reichertz: Escalation of Violence in Unclear Situations – A Methodological Proposal for Video Analysis. [Abstract]

In everyday life, it is rather rare for conflicts to escalate and for violent acts to occur between the parties involved. And when it does, there are usually only a few people involved. Videos of such events are therefore still relatively easy to analyse (despite their complexity) because the events have a centre (monocentric) and the action is sequential, driven only by the interaction dynamics of the participants. However, this looks completely different when the videos show a very large number of people (i.e., everything from 20 people upwards), who belong to different groups with different interests, meet in a specific, pre-structured confined space, and conflicts and violent actions repeatedly arise at different places in the action. Such events often have several and changing centres (polycentric), and there is often an alternation between escalation and relaxation. In addition, several strands of action run parallel to each other and also influence each other (intermediary). Videos of such events pose enormous challenges to social scientists. In my article, based on the analysis of a video capturing the storm of the singling out facility in a soccer stadium, I will show how such complex escalation events can be effectively analysed. The analysis itself consists of a combination of video, interview, and dispositive analysis. The paper will also show why escalation processes cannot be understood and explained solely from what happens in the situation, but the meso and macro levels in which the situation is embedded must always be taken into account as well.

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