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Soc102 Lec 9

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Lorne Tepperman

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Sociology Lecture 9: War and Destruction How Does Inequality Cause Wars? -Ppl's opinions vary as to the causes of wars -Probably the most pop. view is based on evolutionary psychology (and biology) -ex: ppl make wars because we evolved from aggressive animals -explanation takes away blame and responsibility Human Wars are Longer and More Complicated Than Non-Human Wars -However, organized, sustained warfare of humans differs from territorial fights between animals -ours takes years to complete -require enormous organization (rationalizing and planning) -conscious sacrifice -Overall: outside behaviour similar but details very different Wars Are Not Going On All the Time, Despite a Constant "Human Nature" -Still, Freud proposes that War is Inevitable: -was persuaded people's actions motivated by instinct -ppl have a destructive instinct -same as the instinct for love -war is an expression of human's innate aggressive instinct -Nation-states channel people's stored aggression outwards for war to handle this -have this expressed on enemies so it won't be expressed on themselves -not a reasonable theory though -this doesn't explain why some nations and some periods are more war-like than others -also was doesn't occur all the time -many people live in peace or prevent wars throughout their life -War is not a constant state of affairs Malthusian TheoriesAbout War -some theories about war were built on the work of Thomas Malthus -18th century demographer -focused on role of expanding pop. and diminishing resources as key to armed conflict Preventive and Positive Checks -Malthus wrote that: -without preventive checks populations will always increase -will eventually outgrow resources available like food -preventive checks: human actions that lower birth rate -ex: abstinence, postponement of marriage -if no preventive checks, population will increase until limited by positive checks -positive checks: war, help bring populations back in line -wars are not an accident, especially in societies with high fertility -many of these society are war-like -Malthus implies war is inevitable -this however is not always true, it is not inevitable The Role of Young Men in War-Making -other theorists have highlighted the role of young people (males) in war-making -similar to how researchers have highlighted the role of young people in criminal behaviour -same young males tend to be the ones that go to war -especially if there is a lot that are unemployed -these population are mobilizable for war -theory proposes: -religions and ideologies only result in violence if a young pop. is available to act on aggressive ideas The Role of Capitalism and Bankers -some argue that capitalist societies are more warlike then pre or non-capitalists -Marx: Imperialism implies wars -building empires = wars to conquer surroundings -organized violence is externalized as a colonial struggle for resources and markets -some say bankers cause wars -This is not particularly true -though capitalism has worked with imperialism, it also has more recently worked with welfare -have found that it is more profitable to capture markets peacefully -in late 20th, early 21st century, war no longer high on capitalist agendas The Role of Rational Strategizing -so-called rationalists theory: -war is a game of strategic moves under conditions of uncertainty -despite evidence of some strategic rationality in warfare -lot of irrationality in warfare -ex: can't understand why US went to Iraq or why Nazis went to Russia -many leaders have done a lot of stupid things during wars The Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis -It is true that when countries go to war, they are usually hyped by something -On surface, connection between inequality and warfare (political violence more generally) is simple: -more inequality = more frustration -more frustration = more aggression -hence more violence and warfare -is this hypothesis plausible? A"Taste For Revolution" -Study by Robert Macculloch -surveyed a quarter million randomly sampled individuals across various countries -found more people have a "taste" for revolt when inequality in the nation is high -even after controlling for personal characteristics and changes in country over time Inequality May Make PeopleAngry, But Will They Go To War? -This means is there a strong statistical effect of social inequality on voiced support for revolution -But people do not always act on aggressive impulses -frustration does not always lead to aggression or war -likewise for any motivations for revolt The Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis -theory says that aggression is the result of blocking, or frustrating a person's effort to attain a goal -however, psychological and anthropological research shows otherwise -frustration is no always expressed as outward aggression -ex: can vent it on themselves: alcoholism, depression, suicide can vent it on others: homicide, violence to vulnerable -different cultures respond to frustration in different ways, not just by aggression Sometimes Anger and ViolenceAre Channeled Into Personal Life, Not war -Richard Wilkinson: -the tendency for rates of violent crime and homicide tend to be higher where there is more inequality -this is part of a more general tendency for the quality of social relations to be poorer in more hierarchical societies -it is easier to commit domestic crime then start a revolution -i.e. easier to take it out on those vulnerable Don't Ignore the Role of Culture, Ideology, Leadership and Resources -great many elements go into the translation of frustration and anger into political violence -Culture, belief and ideology are all important factors in translating frustration into aggression -also leadership and resources -Leadership helps mobilize this anger towards wars -they do not cause the anger though Tracing a Casual Link Will Be Difficult -Economic Inequality plays a part in war and civil conflict -link between the two is not direct -this link is also conditional on other factors -many factors and variables need to converge -we will have a hard time tracing a causal link between inequality and violence -units of analysis make it hard -inequality is at the societal level -need to translate something from societal level to an individual level -Overall correlation between these variables is not hard -just hard to explain why individuals act the way they do -at particular times due to combinations of events However, Some Societies Can't Keep Inequality From Turning Into Violent Upheaval -In states without strong tradition of good government: -Bad Economic conditions -increasing inequality -inevitable civil war and rebellion -called failed states -Distrust, criminality and violence throughout society -affect public confidence in institutions at every level -often embroiled in war (civil war in particular) -Note: US is very unequal but is not in civil war atm -No revolution; according to Marxists, they should be in a class revolt right now -yet manyAfrican societies with little class definitions embroiled in civil war -this is due to population's investment into civil order and trust in civil institutions -ex: Patriotism, don't lose confidence in their state -also feel they will be eventually rewarded by conforming Some SocietiesAreAble to Ride Out The Hard Times -others have developed more effective ways to channelling conflict peacefully -despite inequality and bad economic conditions -have a strong tradition of rule of law and honest government -high confidence in public institutions and way of life -ex: US People Must Be Healthy and Organized Enough to Rebel,Also Motivated -Rebellion is most likely and most extreme when citizens have risen above abject poverty but are angry about inequality and disadvantage -consider the link between land inequality and conflict intensity in peasant societies -peasants don't rebel -have no strength to -there is a fine balance to the amount of deprivation and strength available -need to be deprived enough for people to risk their lives -however, can't be too deprived such that there is not strength to fight back Ironically, Rapid Change (Even Improvement) May Unleash Rebellion -Rebellion may be driven by expectations that are rising more quickly than the rate of actual change in well-being -this despite changes improving situation -Often, the transition from old to new ways unleashes aggression that was kept in check when the old ways seemed permanent -lack of trust for the new institutions Now Consider Horizontal (Non-Class) Inequalities -Class-based anger based on vertical inequalities may not be expressed in rebellion or war -recent research has focused attention on horizontal inequalities -ethnic, regional, or religious based i.e. between culturally defined groups (tribal groups) -many different classes found in each tribe -this reflects how people identify themselves in society: by ethnicity, not class Here'sAn Interesting TheoryAbout Vertical Vs Horizontal Inequality and War -Besancon finds: traditionally deprived identity groups (such as tribes) are more likely to engage in conflict under more economically equal conditions -prospect of equality and improvement often encourages struggle The Political Inertness of The Middle-Class -in highly unequal societies, both rich and poor fight more often -compared to groups whose wealth lies closer to the country average i.e. middle class -maybe due to fact they have less to gain and more to lose Horizontal Inequalities Lead to War in Less-Developed Societies -where horizontal inequalities exists -i.e. inequalities between tribal
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