Violence in Societies

Violence and its Different Forms

Violence is a significant, universal political occurrence. There is hardly any difference between the history of violence and the history of politics Abuse can take different forms such as physical, economic, psychological, political, social, and identity-yielding (Siroky, 2012, P 350). It is vital to differentiate between the types of violence that attract public attention and those that are often ignored, and how they intersect as they are never mutually exclusive (Lupu " Leonid, 2017 p 836). Based on one’s definition of violence, their perception of peace, conflict, and war will differ.

The Link Between Power Relations and Violence

There is a close link between Power relations and violence. In societies with hierarchical orders, people can be found to be more or less acceptable or desirable based on their compliance with the current assumptions and values (Cocks, 2012 p 223). Consequently, people undergo disciplinary measures or exclusions that are physical or psychological or both. Violence is not only present in conditions of conflict or war but more precisely within political and social processes, which leads to the dilemma of whether to understand violence in a limited or more significant perspective. Abuse is not necessarily physical and can be broadly conceptualized as a force, a violation or structural violence.

Violence as a Force

Force as coercion is defined based on the agent or perpetrator of destruction. Catastrophic use of force can cause a disturbance. According to Vittorio, (2005 p 195) energy results in violence when it frustrates or defeats purposes rather than realizing or executing it. For example when an explosive kills people instead of shattering rocks, and it results in waste and destruction instead of production and construction. Hence, it is called violence and not power or energy. In this case, violence happens when force produces destruction. This explanation offers a relatively clear and narrow understanding of violence and leaves out other forms of violence.

Violence as a Violation

A Human Rights perspective defines violence as any avoidable activity that amounts to infringement of human rights, in its broadest interpretation, or which hinders the satisfaction of an essential human right (Vittorio, 2005 p 199). This definition is based on the recipient or victim of violence and includes a more comprehensive analysis of violence past force. An example is being subjected to a totalitarian type of rule. However this rights-oriented perspective leads to ever-widening conceptualization of violence from physical suffering to psychological, economic and social issues Vittorio, (2005 p 202) asserts that if violence is infringing a human right, then every social mistake is a brutal one, every crime against humanity is a violent crime, and every sin against a person is a violent act. Defining violence can extend to a meaningless degree.

Examples of Physical and Psychological Violence

An individual can apply physical violence if he intentionally acts in a manner that obstructs another’s exercise of their legitimate rights through physical means. However, the deliberate infliction of psychological injury on an individual or individuals is also violence. Furthermore Vittorio, (2005 p 203) notes that violence is felt when people are influenced to make their mental and bodily realizations go below their possible understandings. For example, terrorism can generate physical destruction as well as violence that is not necessarily physical. Physical abuse would include injuring and killing people as well as damage and destruction of poverty, while non-physical violence would consist of a challenge to prevailing ideas and values as well as psychological trauma. An example of abuse that is both physical and psychological is the Drone Warfare which led to the maiming and killing as many as 3500 civilians in Pakistan. The constant threat of maiming and killing is psychological violence while its actual destruction ids physical violence. Another example is the indiscriminate German bombing campaign in London that occurred most intensely between 1940 and 1941. Its primary intention was to destroy critical infrastructure and squash the moral of civilians. These attacks on civilians were regarded as a war crime (Zúquete "Martin, 2015 p 787).

Structural Violence

Violence can also be fundamental in that it is not necessarily caused by direct action but rather can be interwoven within the structures of the society in the world over (Cocks, 2012 p 850). (Stone, 2015 p 182) describes structural violence is elusive, often hidden, and usually has no one particular person to be held responsible. This violence forms in the structure and presents as unmatched power and thereafter as different life opportunities. For example when one parent physically assaults their child it an expression of personal violence however if a million parents fail to provide education to one million children is becomes structural violence. Other examples involve military, police, or additional power of the state committing violent acts. Naturally, it is easy to accuse the individual soldier. However, the aspects that caused the soldier to kill a civilian may be far more intricate than the explanation would imply.

In Summary

In summary, violence can be physical or non-physical. While physical violence involves pressure or power directed at a person to cause them harm, non-physical violence involves those actions that arise from power relationships, such as intimidation, threats, or omission acts. Such non-physical violence results in a wide range of consequences including maldevelopment, deprivation, and psychological harm. Political violence differs extensively in practice, severity, and form. In Political science, a universal organizing structure is to examine ways of force based on relevant aspects such as violence between states, state actor and civilians, and between non-state actors.


Cocks, Joan. "The Violence Of Structures And The Violence Of Foundings". New Political Science, vol 34, no. 2, 2012, pp. 221-227. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/07393148.2012.676400.

Lupu, Noam, and Leonid Peisakhin. "The Legacy Of Political Violence Across Generations". American Journal Of Political Science, vol 61, no. 4, 2017, pp. 836-851. Wiley, doi:10.1111/ajps.12327.

Siroky, David S. "Dissecting Political Violence". International Studies Review, vol 14, no. 2, 2012, pp. 349-351. Oxford University Press (OUP), doi:10.1111/j.1468-2486.2012.01119.x.

Stone, Livia K. "Suffering Bodies And Scenes Of Confrontation: The Art And Politics Of Representing Structural Violence". Visual Anthropology Review, vol 31, no. 2, 2015, pp. 177-189. Wiley, doi:10.1111/var.12080.

Vittorio Bufacchi, “Two Concepts of Violence”, Political Studies Review, vol.3, no.2, 2005: 193-204

Zúquete, José Pedro. "Martin A. Miller.The Foundations Of Modern Terrorism: State, Society And The Dynamics Of Political Violence". Terrorism And Political Violence, vol 27, no. 4, 2015, pp. 786-788. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/09546553.2015.1068094.

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