Group and individual level determinants of collective violence: Socio-psychological aspects of Hindu-Muslim riots

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter presents a framework for understanding the factors responsible for collective violence. Structural conditions that serve as a predisposition to violence include poverty, economic and social stratification, racial inequality, strong authoritarian hierarchy, control by violence, and limited political opportunity. However, unless people are motivated to indulge in such acts, violence does not take place. Violence is also shaped by group characteristics: crowds can lead to de-individuation, which makes people less accountable; and groups seeking positive identity may become prejudiced against the outgroup. Competition for certain resources may create grounds for conflict between groups as well. Asymmetric power relations are a cause of backlash among groups. Individual characteristics such as locus of control, political efficacy, individualist/collectivist orientation, and social domination orientation provide some information about involvement in collective violence; but none of these factors alone is a strong predictor. Relative deprivation at the individual level or group level may also cause people to aggress towards others. The chapter ends by providing future directions for research, including the need to include both cross-level and single level explanations and the need to account for nesting of individuals within groups and groups within societal structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPerspectives on Violence and Othering in India
PublisherSpringer India
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9788132226130
ISBN (Print)9788132226123
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Psychology
  • General Arts and Humanities


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