Author(s): Mark Cooney
Occurring in a broad range of non-western and western countries, violence committed against women in the name of family honor has been viewed in several ways, including as a crime, as gendered violence, or as a violation of human rights. But from a purely explanatory point of view, family honor violence is most profitably viewed as a type of social control, specifically penal social control. As punishment, honor violence appears to obey the same principles as other forms of punishment. Drawing on the theoretical strategy of pure sociology, the present article highlights two such principles: punishment increases with the social distance and social inferiority of the offender. These twin principles help to explain a broad range of facts about when and where family honor violence will occur, and how severe – in particular, how lethal – it will be.