Systematic Violence

What does "systematic violence" mean?

Asked on by mely3

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The term "systematic violence" is used to refer to violence that is pretty much organized and purposeful.  That is as opposed to violence that is much more random.

For example, if you have a culture where a few guys get drunk and go out and beat someone up because that person is gay or the wrong color or whatever, that is not really systematic violence.  By contrast, it is systematic violence if a large group of people or a political party or something sets about purposely being violent against some certain type of person.  For example, the Holocaust was a very clear instance of systematic violence because it was organized and the violence was aimed at a clear purpose.

If you look at the "democratic underground" link, you will see that the author is trying to prove that there has been systematic, as opposed to random, violence against gays over the years.

durbanville's profile pic

durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Animals fight and their instinctive will to survive at all costs ensures survival of the fittest. It is imperative in ensuring the continuation of a species. Their lack of compassion and sometimes brutal treatment of each other is not due to anger or irrational beliefs. Mankind is supposed to be unique and does not have this requirement to fight to the death in order to survive. Violence, therefore, is a social construct.  It is destructive in nature and violent behavior is socially unacceptable. It involves physical exertion and can be an individual or a group against an object, another person, a group or members of a group. It always has consequences whether they are physical or emotional.

In Social Sciences, systematic violence refers to a type of collective action, sometimes prompted by culture or religion and sometimes by prejudice. Hate crimes, brought on by intolerance, have marginalized minorities who have a different sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, race and so on, from those around them. These groups have been targeted and even driven out of neighborhoods. Xenophobic violence is one such example when large groups of people "systematically" drive others out of their community through violent and cruel treatment.

There are also cultural differences which often contribute to their own system of systematic violence. What some cultures allow other cultures find oppressive, demeaning and totally unacceptable, resulting in heinous crimes such as murder. Honor killings would be one such example of cultural violence which in the twenty first century certainly falls within the scope of systematic violence. Within certain communities, honor killings, usually against women, are considered to be justified and there are therefore no repercussions for the perpetrators. The violence is planned and carried out in terms of an apparent higher authority beyond the law, and no consideration is given to the establishment of proof of wrongdoing or the ends of justice. Perception of having wronged her family is enough cause for violence, which sometimes ends in death. 

Systematic violence has existed for hundreds of years as people have been oppressed and treated violently by the very people and systems designed to protect them, including governments, making some systematic violence political. The Mafia is another example of systematic violence. Differences, misunderstandings and unhealthy competition have ruined many lives through systematic violence. 

gsenviro's profile pic

gsenviro | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Systematic violence refers to the practice of organized and purposeful crime. Usually, this type of violence is supported by an influential group, political party, or the government. It is different from the random acts of violence carried out by disorganized people. 

Examples of systematic violence include organized hate crimes, particularly against people of a certain ethnicity, color or preference (homosexuals, etc.). These are more prevalent in areas where these actions are condoned by society or the ruling parties. Hate crimes against Jews during the second world war by the Germans are a clear example of this. The acts were either committed by the government or supported by it. Post war atrocities, especially rape of women and looting, are other common examples where such behavior is condoned by the higher authorities. 

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