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Chapter 8

Chapter 8 War and Destruction Detailed Notes

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC102H1
Professor
Lorne Tepperman
Semester
Fall

Description
War and Destruction  Robert Owen thought equality could be achieved gradually through social/industrial experiments, underestimated effect of past inequality on people’s ability to take charge- also, violence plays a part in social improvement  Inequality is only one of several factors to play a part in rise/prolongation of wars  People’s opinions about the cause of war obviously vary, but the most popular view is based on evolutionary psychology and biology  This view defines war as a human extension of animal behavior (instinctive territoriality/competition, fight to protect territory and obtain necessities)  Konrad Lorenz early advocate of this idea, proposed since animals are aggressive these characteristics could be found in humans in form of war  Advanced tech heightens human capacity for destructiveness/self-destruction  Critics note technology is not the only difference between human warfare/animal territorial fights-social factors+ childhood socialization also important in creation/persistence of war, as human populations differ in war tendencies and wars themselves historically come/go  Human aggression universal occurrence, war isn’t  Freud: war inevitable b/c people have destructive instinct just as they have instinct 4 love  According to him in order to live in societies people must repress death instinct (desire for outward aggression)  This cutting off of the outward results in inward aggression, neurosis  Conflict between war/neurosis reps one of central inescapable difficulties in life  Nation states channel the people’s bottled aggression into warfare  Freud + Einstein: warfare can be reduced if nations give up some sovereignty to international body with power to compel international obedience ex. League of Nations  But neither of these epic dudes thought this likely  Freud’s theory still falls short- while they keep it epic by reaching why humans be warlike generally/universally, they can’t explain how/when wars occur or why some societies are more warlike than others  Theorists be like: aggressive rulers play a major part in warfare, proof: few wars were started by popular demand son  Example of this be Hitler- he straight up used clever propaganda to blame the Commies, Jews and other enemies as the reason for all of Germany’s problems, using it all as an excuse to go shoot up Poland th  Thomas Malthus= 18 century demographer, he led all them theorists proposing demographic theories about war  These theories focused on the role of expanding population/diminishing resources as causes of armed conflict  Malthus: without preventative checks (human actions that lower birth rate), populations will always increase until limited by positive checks (war/disease/famine for ex.)  Positive checks would then most occur according to this theory in high fertility areas of world  Other demographic theorists highlight role of young people in war-making- youth bulge theory proposes war tends to break out when large groups of (usually male) youth experience lack of peaceful regular job ops  Bulge becomes problematic when 30-40% of males of nation are fighting age (15-29 yrs.), commonly the case in high fertility areas  Some use this to explain so-called “Islamic terrorism”, and according to this theory religion/ideologies only legitimate violence, don’t directly result in violence unless youth bulge is present  Tepperman uses example of violence in highly-fertile Gaza Strip, contrasting it to lack of violence in neighboring Lebanon, which he says can be explained by lower level of fertility  This all suggests demography not ideology drives “Islamic violence”  Same theory is often applied to revolutions, it’s been suggested the Arab Spring was the result of the youthquake in North Africa/Middle East and subsequent lack of job ops for young people  Although this theory is attractive, fails to explain wars begun in developed, lower fertile countries void of the youth bulge  Some wars involving developed countries begin with pursuit of territory for natural resources, wealth, which falls in line with Marxist theory about these wars being competition between capitalist powers  Marx: these wars a natural result of the free market, which can only expand or else it will implode, thus, war will only disappear once world revolution overthrows capitalism  Similarly, some say bankers cause wars- lucrative for the banks, called on to lend money to government for the war effort, as well as war industries to produce war materials  Some theorists even propose international bankers secretly control such central banking systems as US federal reserve, allegedly creating an imaginary enemy for public to get the party started  Banker theory flaw: not all wars are profitable, even for capitalists, many seem strategic instead  Rationalist theory: war is a betting game, aimed at achieving strategic political/geopolitical goals under conditions of uncertainty  Sometimes despite the risk some countries are unable to avoid war  This rationalist theory is also flawed: 1. Hard to apply cost-benefit calculations to extreme genocidal wars where no bargain is offered, see Rwanda, Kosovo. 2. State is not one unitary individual- doesn’t make as much sense when leader is controlled by congress/parliament. 3. Rationalist theories do not take into account irrational hopes, fears, prejudices and fantasies, assumes instead actors involved can assess likelihood of success/failure War and Inequality  On surface connection between inequality/violence simple: inequality creates more frustration = more aggression = more violence  Study by Robert Macculloch: survey of 250k random people show people express preference for revolt when nation is highly unequal (surveyed people were asked about desires for revolution)  Macculloch: argues 1 standard deviation in Gini coefficient explains up to 38% of standard deviation in revolutionary support  But how likely are those in favor of revolution willing to actually to take the necessary risky actions in the worst possible conditions? This shows link between inequality/violence is complex  We know this link is complex from the studies of frustration/aggression carried out by social scientists nearly 80 years ago. Just ask these guys:  John Dollard, Neal E. Miller + colleagues and the frustration-aggression hypothesis (further developed by associates, students): aggression occurs when effort to attain a goal are blocked/frustrated. When source of frustration can’t be challenged, victim directs/displaces aggression on innocent target or even channels it into dreams  J.W.M. Whiting/I.L. Child argue this displacement can be seen in dreams/ fears of witchcraft in highly repressive societies  In many societies/cultural contexts, aggression or direct aggression against oppressor is not an option-this may lead to aggression against wife/kids who may undergo psychosomatic illness  Frustration does not guarantee aggression, expression of aggression doesn’t guarantee warfare  Link is even more complex on a societal level, more elements involved in transformation of frustration- political violence  Walter Goldfrank in his study on rural Mexico: 1. Inequality/oppression do not produce revolt themselves 2. False to argue the greater the inequality the greater the rebelliousness 3. Activities of dominant rural class are crucial to analysis of inequality/revolution 4. Government’s ability to suppress rebellion was most limited in areas where rebellion was most likely  So rural revolt in Mexico shows there is no easy connect between discontentment and revolt, so revolution, while a conclusive indicator of dissensus, can’t be the only one  No matter how great the inequality, where people have little/few opportunities or resources to express discontent rebellion is unlikely no matter how high the inequality  On the other hand even if the injustice is far less severe, an area where people have higher opportunities/resources rebellion is much more likely  Therefore the direction of the movement both in the society and in the people’s perceptions is an important factor  Mills: by exporting jobs to low-wage areas globalization reduced inequality in developing economies/increased inequality in industrialized nations  In failed states (states without a strong tradition of good government) worsening econ conditions+ increased inequality= violence, rebellion; whereas, in the most developed industrial societies people usually hope for the best  “Economic regress/political decay bring relative deprivation or the perception of injustice by influential social groups, which they arrive at due to the disparity between what they expect/get”  Some societies are able to develop ways to channel conflict peacefully despite inequality- Whitehall papers note: most notably through spread of democratic system societies have been able to develop mechanisms to peacefully resolve distributional conflicts despite rising levels of inequality in key regions of the world, number of armed conflicts has declined  Ex of above Latin America (highly unequal economically but more peaceful in recent decades)  Weak/failed state ex. Somalia, econ deprivation + strong ethno-nationalist trad = N. Ireland  Cramer: economic inequality important for explaining civil conflict, the link though is not direct  So here’s what we’ve arrived at: inequality clearly affects people’s propensity for violence, their taste for revolt, but as for translating the propensity into action, low levels of trust can play an important role, provocative shows of force by police/military  Also, societies with a large part of workforce dedicated to monitoring/controlling the symptoms of inequality and the population has high potential for rebellion (these are more unequal societies)  Link between inequality/violence easiest to see in rural settings; researchers found severest violence occurs between landlords/landless at intermediate levels of land inequality rather than the most extreme inequality, giving rise to several mutually compatible interpretations  1. Rebellion most likely when peasants rise above abject poverty but still far from land-sharing, so there is still reason for uprising and resources it needs (related to above)  2. As social scientists argued 50 years ago, rebellion driven by expectations rising quicker than rate of social improvement  3. Transition from old to new ways unleashes aggression that stays in check as long as old ways appear to be permanent  Rosemary Gartner: femicide, homicidal violence against women by men, most common in societies in midst of changeover from traditional to modern ways, more than when women’s status is simply lower than men’s, more often when women’s status challenges men  Second key factor in taste for revolt: strength of forces arrayed against rebellion, for ex. Ability of government to respond flexibly to demands for change  Punishment disproportionately dispensed invites rebellion  Outbreak of rebellion depends on: pre-existing inequality between elites/poor; military capabilities of the groups; destructiveness of conflict  Richard Wilkinson: compared with more egalitarian societies unequal societies are likelier to inspire tastes for violence/rebellion, social relations are poorer in hierarchal societies  Recent research has focused on horizontal inequalities (ethnic/regional/religious based), or inequalities between groups culturally defined (as opposed to econ inequality)  James Robinson: class conflict not necessarily worse than ethnic, ethnic conflict generally worse when income distribution equal (ethnicity immutable, class position not)  People cannot solve disadvantages of belonging to a horizontal group through methods of solving economic disadvantages such as attaining education  For this reason horizontal inequalities have become greater source of civil violence than any other  According to Marie Besancon who agreed with Robinson we must view horizontal genocides as different from equally violent types of civil war and insurgence based on econ inequality  But she also says political/social equalities important in mitigating ethnic violence  We also encounter a problem finding a link between horizontal inequalities and violence just like class-based  For ethnic conflict over horizontal inequalities you need to first find perceived injustice as well as strong communal identity/strong institutional resources to seek justice  Through geocoding researchers found that rich/poor groups fight more often than groups of average income  Poor groups fight b/c little to lose/strong motive to improve, rich groups fight b/c they stand to lose a lot/have ample resources with which to fight  Indonesia has had to deal with horizontal inequality issues, using strategy of political decentralization (coined by strategy researcher Rachael Diprose), which has helped reduce tensions between rich/poor and reduce said inequalities particularly in areas where concentrated groups had been disenfranchised by government  But it has also brought new problems: ethnoreligious segregation, migration in the name of self- protection/advancement (Diprose notes that these problems haven’t led to violence however)  Best hope we have may be that although we can’t reduce conflict below a certain level given the present inequalities, we can hope for channeling of hostility into peaceful electoral processes  Such processes are at work in diverse polities like Israel  Alternate hope: conflict between horizontally unequal groups can be moderated by cross- cutting cleavages  Study looking at risk of civil war in 100 multi ethnic societies found civil war more likely in countries where ethnicity crosscut by socioeconomic class, geo region and religion  Example of above: Canada 1950, francophone identity was centered in particular region Quebec, characterized by Roman Catholic religion and absent from dominant socio-economic classes  Canada escaped with little actual revolution leaving the impression things weren’t dire  Analysis of civil conflict between 36 developing countries from 86-04 investigated all kinds of inequality  Focusing on inter-group inequality study found horizontal inequalities predicted outbreak of conflict, notably under conditions of interaction between group identity segregation institutionalization and disadvantage that creates conflict  It is only when these conditions come together that they take effect/violence likely to break out  Population pressure/resource scarcity also play important part in struggles between ethno- cultural/regional groups  Example of Indonesia from 90-03 in provinces where population growth is high greater levels of inequality between religious groups appear to increase violence risk (little effect in isolation)  Processes of inter-group inequ
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