The Socialization of Threats in Mass Killing




Ogata, Tetsushi

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This dissertation discusses the mechanisms and patterns of how threats are socialized in the murderous societies where regimes struggle with exercising their political control in the midst of social mobilization and structural breakdown. Threat is a set of interpretations of novel events and of communicative action of such appraisal. Threat alone does not drive people to kill but some threats can dictate the entire social apparatus of the killing machinery, as in the episodes of mass killing in the former Soviet Union, China, and Cambodia. The threat analysis of the communist mass killing seeks a heuristically emergent view of `threat as a process,' wherein the framing of what is threatening is relationally determined in an array of multiple social relations and therefore its meaning is constantly in flux with the passage of time. In the threat system, threat is what binds the past and the future, projecting the fear of the future generative needs of identity onto the present reality. The agents are predisposed to exercise threats in order to maintain the credibility of their control of the system, especially when they perceive looming prospects of further loss. However, threats that the parties perceive or exert are not static at different points in time, even if their means and objectives remain constant. When the threat system is in place, the relational dynamics would be negative-sum. The labeling of identity becomes ideational and therefore enemy identities are no longer ineliminable. The exercise of threats becomes self-perpetual and self-reinforcing as the system is increasingly averse to endogenous changes.



International relations, Political Science, Social research, Conflict, Genocide, Identity, Mass killing, Politicide, Threat