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Author(s) Collins, Randall
Year 2013
Title Zur Mikrosoziologie von Massentötungen bei Amokläufen
Published in Berliner Journal für Soziologie, Vol. 23, No. 1
Pages 7–25
Also published in Revue de Synthèse (2014), Vol. 135, No. 4. (pp. 405–420)
as Micro-sociology of mass rampage killings
DOI 10.1007/s11609-013-0207-6
Abstract Spectacular but very rare violent events such as mass killings by habitual non-criminals cannot be explained by factors which are very widespread, such as possession of firearms, being a victim of bullying, an introvert, or a career failure. A stronger clue is clandestine preparation of attack by one or two individuals, against randomly chosen representatives of a hated collective identity. The mass killer chooses a setting, costume and timing to establish emotional dominance as precursor to physical casualties; such killers typically amass far more weapons than they actually use, and rely on them both for intimidation and for their own symbolic-emotional support. Mass killings end surprisingly often by surrendering, or committing suicide, once confronted by firm resistance. Mass killers develop a deep back-stage, obsessed with planning their attack, overcoming social inferiority and isolation by an emotion of clandestine excitement. Their actions might be described as mental illness, except that the clinical label adds no further explanatory power – their violent mental illness is socially constructed by just these processes.

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