Dictionnaire de la Science Politique

Authors: Hermet, Badie, Birnbaum & Braud
Summary: In a short entry of about 300 words the author gives a broad ddefinition of the term and distinguishes between two meanings of violence.
Every form of social control entails violence on the individual, forcing him to give up to the fulfilment of some of his expectations. This sort of "symbolic" violence must be distinguished from the physical one, which can be of two types: state violence or coercion and protesting violence. The two are closely linked, and, in the logic of negotiation embedded in political life, constitute resources used to pursue different goals: capture media attention and paralyse or , to the contrary, mobilize action.
The capacity to exert violence is unevenly distributed: the state is entitled with the monopoly of legitimate violence because it uses it to ensure the respect of laws, even though some groups exploit moderate forms of violence to gain influence on government politics.