CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER
CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER

How Solving the Mystery of a Classic French Novel Could Curb Police Violence

A Sociologist Finds Clues in Camus’s The Stranger That Tension Triggers Excess Force

Albert Camus’s novel The Stranger contains one of the most famous acts of violence in all literature. A man kills someone he doesn’t know, without immediate provocation, in broad daylight. Though the incident is usually read for its philosophical or literary value, it’s also rich in sociological evidence. As a sociologist, the mystery that most interests me is why, after shooting his antagonist once, does Camus’s protagonist deliberately pump four more shots into the body? Camus never explains it. Sociology can, though, revealing some surprisingly applicable lessons in The Stranger …

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