Purpose – The overall purpose of this chapter is to discuss what is known about serious forms of bias violence, obstacles to studying bias violence, and how alternative theoretical and methodological approaches can advance our understanding of bias violence in the twenty-first century.
Design/methodology/approach – Following a review of the literature, the applicability of identity fusion theory for explaining bias violence is considered and applied to the anti-racial mass shooting at an historically Black church in Charleston, South Carolina. Data come from an innovative open-source project known as the United States Extremist Crime Database.
Findings – Drawing from identity fusion theory, information from open-source data on the Charleston church shooting suggests that the perpetrator was a highly fused individual who perceived African Americans as a threat toward his social identity group and committed an act of extreme behavior (i.e., bias homicide) as a means for stabilizing his self-views.
Originality/value – This chapter builds upon prior studies of bias violence by demonstrating how (1) publicly available open sources (e.g., court documents and media reports) may be systematically compiled and used as reliable data for studying serious forms of bias violence, and (2) the use of social psychological theories, specifically identity fusion theory, can help to explain the role of personal and group identities in discriminatory violence.
Allison, K. (2018), "The Relevance of Bias Violence in the 21st Century", Deflem, M. (Ed.) Homicide and Violent Crime (Sociology of Crime, Law and Deviance, Vol. 23), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 101-117. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1521-613620180000023007
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