FRAGMON is a comparative historical study which examines how states devolve to private citizens their power to punish and enforce law. It investigates to what extent gun licence regulations, practices of self-defence and taking justice in hands contributed to consolidate or to challenge the legitimacy of the State in Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom from 1860 to 1960. The goal of the project is to bring about a general re-thinking of one of the most debated, though still controversial and elusive, issue of modern statehood: the state monopoly on legitimate violence.
This project uses interdisciplinary approaches, comparative historical methods, in-depth analysis in archives and a wide chronology to work upon the gap between the theoretical configuration of the category of “state monopoly” and its actual implementations in everyday life. Its aims are threefold.
First, it clarifies the legal-political framework within which states devolved their power to enforce law and to punish to private citizens. The project therefore analyses the legal, political and social debates on gun licences, commodification of weapons, self-defence regulations. Second, the project investigates practices related to episodes of self-defence and delegation of power to use violence; how perceptions of insecurity fuelled self-defence; emotional, psychological and social impacts of such practices; efforts in controlling and policing the use of weapons; the impact of these phenomena on the legitimacy of state powers. Third, FARE and PREWArAs work together and are complementary in building up an integrated and empirically-based interpretative framework to investigate the role and the impact of non-state forms of legal violence on European civil societies. The projects results tackle topics that are currently high on the public agenda, such as: the legitimacy of state and the challenges to democracy; the impact of wars and civil conflicts in increasing levels of weapons and even violence in civil society; the commodification of weapons and its influence in relation to political and ordinary violence; the relationships between individual and collective rights, private freedom and collective good.