Cultural violence

Three forms of violence

There are three forms of violence (according to Galtung, one of the most acclaimed peace researchers):

Direct violence: The most visual form, hurting people physically by war, beating people, abuse, mobbing, etc. It can either be experienced yourself or seen on the street but it can as well be ‘transmitted’ by movies, games, etc.

Structural violence: The type of violence that is embedded into systems. Restricting access to rights and possibilities based on gender, skin color, religion, sexual orientation, etc. The inequalities within societies and between societies create tensions which further violence if not resolved nonviolently.

Cultural violence: Embedded stories glorifying and normalizing war and violence. These stories and ideas of how to solve conflicts limit our possibilities to solve conflicts, because they tell us that one action always needs this specific reaction and it has always been like this and will always have to be like it is. In a way, this is the brain, the reasoning behind violence, making it acceptable. Women are not treated equal, because they are inferior to men; Gay people have restricted access to society institutions and rights because they are ‘unnatural and a threat to society’. If you get beaten, you probably provoked them and so the victim suddenly looks like the perpetrator, even more so, because you do not speak about your weaknesses and clearly, being a victim means you were weak… and so on and so on… It is a bit like calling you a bad looser because you complain, that the rules were unfair (well, if the rules were unfair ;), which they sometimes are – especially when it comes to social rules, behavioral expectations, etc.).

Cultural violence is in many ways the root and legitimization of the other forms of violence and since it lives in our brains, it is especially hard to see and to get rid of. Constant awareness and an open mind help though, seeing and then ignoring this little voice that tells us that just in this case, violence was okay, because……

So, why should we learn about violence when we want nonviolence? To recognize it, first in our own thoughts and minds and make the choice not to employ this culturally transmitted strategy of solving conflicts but training the new, nonviolent way of solving conflicts.

This post represents the personal opinion of Georg at the time of writing!

3 thoughts on “Three forms of violence

  1. [...] the last post, talking about cultural violence? The current President of the US in North-America, when he [...]

  2. [...] where is the violence? Ah, good question. Remember what I wrote about cultural violence: It tells us that violence actually is not violence but normal and acceptable / natural. This [...]

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