Sociological Perspectives of Violence

Topics: Racism, Sociology, Violence Pages: 8 (2475 words) Published: November 30, 2010

      The focus of this paper is an overview of different research articles on racism and structural violence against the aboriginal. Violence will be looked at from three schools of thoughts namely the structural, conflict and process theories. The views of these different approaches to violence will be critically analyzed, but no value judgments will be placed on any of their perceptions of violence.      

          According to Headley (2000), racism is “the infliction of unequal consideration, motivated by the desire to dominate, based on race alone (p.223). Headley further explains that this definition accommodates the distinction between “true racism” which is the desire to harm or dominate others solely on the basis of race, and “ordinary racism” which he sees as universal features of human biology (p.224). Headley further maintained that a racist is not merely someone who wishes to put down another’s   race, but also suppress and assert his/her own superiority through a violent act (p.224).           Naiman (2006) defines racism as hostility, aggression, and antagonism toward non-members of a particular group based on their physical characteristics, notably skin colour (p.265).               Similarly, Spencer (1998) sees racism as “the transformation of race prejudice and / or ethnocentrism through the exercise of power against a racial group defined as inferior, by individual and institution” (p.1). To infer from the foregoing definitions, a common attribute of racism is the belief that one’s own race is superior to another. This belief is based on the erroneous assumption that physical attributes of members of a racial group determine their social behaviour as well as their psychological and intellectual characteristics (Spencer, 1998, p.5).  

Historical Roots of Racism.
              The term racism became popularized in the late 1960’s during the civil rights movement (Headley, 2000, p.235). Prior to this time according to Headley, the term ethnic prejudice was used (p.236).                 Naiman (2006) posits that racism is a relatively recent phenomenon, and its emergence as a systematic world-view developed concurrently with the rise of capitalist and its global expansion (p.266) Naiman further explains   that some scholars define forms of   social intolerance prior to this capitalist era as racism, but he however argues that such social intolerance is more precisely seen as ethnocentrism (preference for one’s own cultural traditions) or ethnic chauvinism (antagonism towards a particular group) (p.267). Racism in Canada

                According to Naiman (2006), some Canadians like to believe that racism is a relatively recent phenomenon linked to modern immigration patterns or compared to United States, Canada has little history of overt racism (p.269).   Naiman, however, argues that racism in Canada has a long and sordid past, which in reality as described by him “ is an unsightly history swept under the threadbare rug of its national myths” (p.269). Naiman further maintained that the history of racism in Canada begins with the subjugation of Canada’s aboriginal people.  

      Anglin (1998), states that an uncontroversial, exhaustive and precise definition of violence is difficult to find.   “Violence is understood as an incident in which an acting individual intentionally injures another” (p.146). Anglin further explains that the action of the perpetrator can be physical, or psychological.         In same vein, Steinmetz (1989) defines violent as “an act carried out with the intension of, or perceived as having the intension of physically hurting another person”. Strasburg (1978) defines violence as “illegal use or threat of force against a person”.       From the foregoing, it can be infer that violent behavior means physical force exerted for the purpose of violating or abusing. There are three key terms which are likely...
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