Lois Presser, associate professor of sociology, recently had her latest book, Why We Harm, published by Rutgers University Press. In the book, Presser scrutinizes accounts of actions as diverse as genocide, environmental degradation, war, torture, terrorism, homicide, rape, and meat-eating on the way to presenting a general narrative theory of harm.
In our stories of harm, we are licensed to do the harmful deed and at the same time powerless to act differently. The targets of harm are reduced to one-dimensional characters—sometimes a dangerous foe, sometimes much more benign, but still a projection of our own concerns and interests. Presser provides criminology with a much-needed framework with which to understand the motivation and legitimation of harmful action.