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Making sense of school shootings: Comparing local narratives of solidarity and conflict in Finland

Nurmi, Johanna
June 4, 2015

Source: (2012) Traumatology 18(3) 16-28

This article focuses on the dynamics of solidarity and conflict after incidents of mass violence. To date, two rampage school
shootings have taken place in Finland in the small towns of Jokela and Kauhajoki. The community-level consequences of these
shooting incidents are compared in this article. On the basis of narrative analysis of interviews with local residents, collective
interpretations of the incidents and their consequences are identified in both communities. In Jokela, the community as a whole
was constructed as a victim, and expressions of solidarity were encouraged. In Kauhajoki, the community was portrayed as a
site of mass violence, and not as a victim. Therefore, expressions of solidarity were seen as unnecessary. Different residential
histories of the perpetrators and the victims, as well as the media accounts of the incidents, led to different interpretations of
the shootings. The results also suggest that in the aftermath of mass violence, solidarity and conflict may occur simultaneously
and that symbolic and emotional solidarity seem to play a more important role than that of helping behavior.


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