Measuring Violence and the Problems of Researching Violence and Structural Violence

Attached you will find the Class 2 Summary document, Measuring Violence Readings 1- 2. Make sure you read the Class Summary document first, it contains all the instructions you will need and details the postings that you are required to make in the Discussion Forum. In the Discussion Forum you should write at least one or two sentences in response to the questions by 1/7. Note there are two sections for Class 2 – see also Structural Violence
Measuring Violence and the Problems of Researching Violence
After reading about this topic in the Course Materials section, please answer the following questions by replying to this posting by 1/7. You should write at least one or two sentences on each question. Then come back to post a reply to at least two of your classmates’ responses.
1. What is meant by the ‘hidden figure’?
2. Where is the ‘ hidden figure’ of violence likely to be greatest. Give reasons?
3. What does Elliott Currie say about the problems of using: a) Crime statistics or, b) Victimization study data or, c). Self- report studies or, d) Making cross-cultural comparisons?
4. Why does Currie regard the homicide figures as the most accurate of the officially collected statistics?
Attached you will find the Class 2 (2) Summary document, Structural Violence Reading 1. Make sure you read the Class Summary document first, it contains all the instructions you will need and details the postings that you are required to make by 1/7 in the Discussion Forum. In the Discussion Forum you should write at least one or two sentences in response to the question.
This is the clip from Bowling for Columbine – see Class Summary http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gyd3tytdvQs
Structural Violence
After reading about this topic in the Course Materials section, please answer the following question by replying to this posting by 1/7. You should write at least one or two sentences. Then come back to post a reply to two of your classmates’ responses.
1. ‘Structural violence is the violence of injustice’. Discuss what this means?
You were asked to read the article by Yolanda Pierce ‘Why persecute the poor for being poor’ – how can what happened in relation to the child’s death be interpreted as an illustration of structural violence?
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Measuring Violence and the Problems of Researching Violence
To Do:
* Read the summary below and the readings on measuring violence
*Answer the Questions on ‘Measuring Violence and the ‘Hidden’
Figure’ by 1/7
*Read the Supplementary Research Section on p. 4
Note: if you have problems downloading the readings, please get in
touch immediately
THE EXTENT OF VIOLENCE
1. HOW CAN WE KNOW THE AMOUNT OF VIOLENCE IN SOCIETY?
There are four main ways:
i) crimes known to the police;
ii) public responding to crime or victimization surveys;
iii) self-report studies of offenders
iv) crimes known to other agencies (eg emergency rooms,
battered women’s refuges)
2. WHAT IS THE HIDDEN FIGURE?
The hidden figure is the volume of crime which is not registered in the
criminal statistics. It refers to crimes that are not reported or not recorded.
This ‘hidden figure’ was first recognized by the statistician, Adolphe
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Quetelet, the Belgian mathematician, astronomer and developer of social statistics
in the 1830s. All methods of collecting statistics have a hidden figure, but
victimization surveys are the most accurate, e.g. The National Crime and
Victimization Survey (NCVS) or the British Crime Survey in the UK.
3. HOW BIG IS THE ‘HIDDEN FIGURE?
It is estimated that the true extent of crime is four and a half times larger than that
recorded, that is 77% of crime is in the hidden figure (Young, 2000).
4. PROBLEMS OF RESEARCH: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Domestic Violence is an extremely difficult area to research, in Class One we looked
briefly at the difficulties that women have in defining their experiences of ‘domestic
violence’. Levels of non-reporting of domestic violence are considerable for various
reasons: fear of reprisals (the assailant may be near to the interview situation),
embarrassment, psychological blocking and so on. Domestic violence is often
unknown to anyone outside of the immediate family and it is, therefore, unlikely
that a woman will want to reveal her experiences to a researcher. Violence that
takes place in the home – domestic violence and child abuse – is considered to have
the highest hidden figure of any crime, what we know about it represents the ‘tip of
the iceberg’.
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Reading:
Measuring Violence Readings 1- 2 are attached
Measuring Violence: Reading 1
In this extract from The Roots of Danger: Violence in a Global Perspective (2009), the
author, Elliott Currie, discusses the different ways in which we measure violence
and the problems of measurement. As he points out, ‘much – in fact most – violent
crime flies under the radar of the authorities, in some societies more than others. As
a result, almost all of our usual measures of violence, understate it considerably,
some measures more than others’; therefore when we consider statistics on
violence we must be exercise caution, they are unlikely to reveal the true level and
patterns of violence. Pay particular attention to what Currie says about the
problems of using police statistics, victimization surveys and self-report studies.
Measuring Violence: Reading 2
In this article I discuss my research on domestic violence and how I tried to
overcome the problem of the ‘hidden figure’ .
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Discussion Forum
‘Measuring Violence and the Hidden Figure’
1. What is meant by the ‘hidden figure’?
2. Where is the ‘hidden figure’ of violence likely to be greatest. Give
reasons?
3. What does Elliott Currie say about the problems of using one of the
following: a) Crime statistics or, b) Victimization study data or, c). Selfreport studies or, d) Making cross-cultural comparisons
4. Why does Currie regard the homicide figures as the most accurate of
the officially collected statistics?
Supplementary Research:
The US Department of Justice publishes data on homicide rates and trends at
http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/htus8008.pdf Access this link (you
may need to cut and paste it into your browser), it will give you information
on levels and patterns of homicide. Note that the homicide rate has declined
since the mid-1990s. We will be considering some of the reasons for the
decline. A good book to read in reference to this is Karmen, A (2000) New
York Murder Mystery, New York: NYU Press.
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5
Structural Violence
To Do:
*Read the summary below, Chapter 4 in Gregg Barak’s Violence and
Non-Violence, Yolanda Pierce’s attached article ‘Why Persecute the
Poor for Being Poor?’ Watch the excerpt from Bowling for
Columbine on the Kayla Rowlands’ case.
* Answer the Question on ‘Structural Violence’ in the Discussion
Forum by 1/7
Note: if you have any problem downloading the readings, please
get in touch immediately
Structural Violence
Key Concepts: Social structure. unequal access to power. poverty
This extract is from: Winter, D. D., & Leighton, D. C. (2001). Structural
violence. In D. J. Christie, R. V. Wagner, & D. D. Winter (Eds.), Peace, Con?ict,
and Violence: Peace psychology in the 21st century. New York: Prentice-Hall.
“ Introduction
By Deborah DuNann Winter and Dana C. Leighton
Direct violence is horrific, but its brutality usually gets our attention: we notice it, and
often respond to it. Structural violence, however, is almost always invisible, embedded
in ubiquitous social structures, normalized by stable institutions and regular experience.
Structural violence occurs whenever people are disadvantaged by political, legal,
economic or cultural traditions. Because they are longstanding, structural inequities
usually seem ordinary, the way things are and always have been. The chapters in this
section teach us about some important but invisible forms of structural violence, and alert
us to the powerful cultural mechanisms that create and maintain them over generations.
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Structured inequities produce suffering and death as often as direct violence does,
though the damage is slower, more subtle, more common, and more difficult to repair.
Globally, poverty is correlated with infant mortality, infectious disease, and shortened
lifespans. Whenever people are denied access to society’s resources, physical and
psychological violence exists.
Johan Galtung originally framed the term structural violence to refer to any constraint
on human potential due to economic and political structures (1969). Unequal access to
resources, to political power, to education, to health care, or to legal standing, are forms
of structural violence. When inner city children have inadequate schools while others
do not, when gays and lesbians are fired for their sexual orientation, when laborers toil
in inhumane conditions, when people of color endure environmental toxins in their
neighborhoods, structural violence exists. Unfortunately, even those who are victims of
structural violence often do not see the systematic ways in which their plight is
choreographed by unequal and unfair distribution of society’s resources.
Structural violence is problematic in and of itself, but it is also dangerous because it
frequently leads to direct violence. Those who are chronically oppressed are often, for
logical reasons, those who resort to direct violence. For example, cross-national studies
of murder have shown a positive correlation between economic inequality and homicide
rates across 40 nations (Hansmann & Quigley, 1982; Unnithan & Whitt, 1992). In the
U.S., racial inequality in wealth is correlated with murder rates (Blau & Golden, 1986).
Often elites must use direct violence to curb the unrest produced by structural violence.
For example, during the 1980s, mean income disparity between whites and blacks in the
same urban area predicted use of deadly force by police (Jacobs & O’Brien, 1998).
Structural violence often requires police states to suppress resentments and social unrest.
Huge income disparities in many Latin American countries are protected by
correspondingly huge military operations, which in turn drain resources away from social
programs and produce even more structural violence.
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Organized armed conflict in various parts of the world is easily traced to structured
inequalities. Northern Ireland, for example, has been marked by economic disparities
between Northern Irish Catholics– who have higher unemployment rates and less formal
education–and Protestants (Cairns & Darby, 1998). In Sri Lanka, youth unemployment
and underemployment exacerbates ethnic conflict (Rogers, Spencer & Uyangoda,
1998). In Rwanda, huge disparities between the Hutu and Tutsies eventually led to ethnic
massacres.
While structural violence often leads to direct violence, the reverse is also true, as
brutality often terrorizes bystanders, who then become unwilling or unable to confront
social injustice. Increasingly, civilians pay enormous costs of war through death and
devastation of neighborhoods and ecosystems. Ruling elites rarely suffer from armed
con-flict as much as civilian populations do, who endure decades of poverty and disease
in war-torn societies.
When social inequities are noticed, attempts are made to rationalize and understand
them. Unfortunately, one outcome of this process is to assume that victims must in some
way deserve their plight. But certainly it is easy to see that young children do not deserve
to be victims of structural violence.
Finally, to recognize the operation of structural violence forces us to ask questions about
how and why we tolerate it, questions which often have painful answers for the
privileged elite who unconsciously support it. A final question of this section is how and
why we allow ourselves to be so oblivious to structural violence. Susan Opotow offers
an intriguing set of answers, in her article ‘Social Injustice’. She argues that our normal
perceptual/cognitive processes divide people into in-groups and out-groups. Those
outside our group lie outside our scope of justice. Injustice that would be instantaneously
confronted if it occurred to someone we love or know is barely noticed if it occurs
to strangers or those who are invisible or irrelevant. We do not seem to be able to open
our minds and our hearts to everyone, so we draw conceptual lines between those who
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are in and out of our moral circle. Those who fall outside are morally excluded, and
become either invisible, or demeaned in some way so that we do not have to
acknowledge the injustice they suffer. Moral exclusion is a human failing, but Opotow
argues convincingly that it is an outcome of everyday social cognition. To reduce its
nefarious effects, we must be vigilant in noticing and listening to oppressed, invisible,
outsiders. Inclusionary thinking can be fostered by relationships, communication, and
appreciation of diversity.
Like Opotow, the authors in this section point out that structural violence is not inevitable
if we become aware of its operation, and build systematic ways to mitigate its
effects. Learning about structural violence may be discouraging, overwhelming, or
maddening, but these papers encourage us to step beyond guilt and anger, and begin to
think about how to reduce structural violence. All the authors in this section note that
the same structures (such as global communication and normal social cognition) which
feed structural violence, can also be used to empower citizens to reduce it. In the long
run, reducing structural violence by reclaiming neighborhoods, demanding social justice
and living wages, providing prenatal care, alleviating sexism, and celebrating local
cultures, will be our most surefooted path to building lasting peace”.
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Reading:
Structural Violence Reading 1 is attached
Article by Yolanda Pierce: Reading 1
In this article Yolanda Pierce highlights the impact of poverty and inequality. She
argues that when Raquel Nelson was convicted of vehicular homicide she was being
convicted of the ‘crime of being poor’ in the United States.
Documentary: Bowling for Columbine, the case of Kayla Rowland.
Watch the sections (25,26,27) in Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine on the case
of Kayla Rowland. Bowling for Columbine is available in the John Jay library and is
also on Netflix. I am attaching a youtube clip. In Bowling for Columbine, Michael
Moore shows the Buell elementary shooting where a 6 year old boy shot another 6
year old, Kayla Rowland. Moore puts the blame on the social structure; the
background to this case is the poverty in which the child lived in. The child’s
mother, Tamara Owens, was living with her brother after being evicted as she
couldn’t afford the rent (it was her brother’s gun that her son found). She was
forced to work as part of Michigan’s welfare to work program in order to get food
stamps and health care for her children. Owens worked two jobs. As Moore says,
the boy’s mother “had to serve drinks and make fudge for rich people. She didn’t
see her son take a gun to school because she had to leave home for work before he
got up”. Think about how this child’s circumstances contributed to the terrible
events at Buell elementary school.
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Clip from Bowling for Columbine (you may need to cut and paste into your
browser):

‘Structural Violence’
Answer the following question by 1/7
1. ‘Structural violence is the violence of injustice’. Discuss
what this means?
2. You were asked to read the article by Yolanda Pierce ‘Why persecute the
poor for being poor’ – how can what happened in relation to the child’s
death be interpreted as an illustration of structural violence?
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Why persecute the poor for being poor?
Raquel Nelson’s conviction for causing her own child’s death by jaywalking
shows America’s indifference to the cost of poverty
Yolanda Pierce
guardian.co.uk, Friday 19 August 2011 09.30 EDT
larger | smaller
Article history
Raquel Nelson’s son was killed by a drunk hit-and-run driver as she attempted to
cross a five-lane highway in Atlanta. Photograph: Alamy/M stock
I love to cook and was delighted when a friend requested a pan of my favourite
dish. In search of my “secret ingredient”, I rode to the grocery store in the airconditioned comfort of my car, focused on my task, with not a thought that it is a
luxury to have several grocery stories in my vicinity, a working vehicle that can
take me to those stores, and the disposable income to spend on life’s basic needs
and a few wants. Like most middle-class Americans, a trip to the grocery story is
an errand one takes for granted. However, it is a story, like that of Raquel Nelson,
which humbles me and deeply troubles my soul, reminding me that poverty in
the United States means a special brand of persecution. Instead of waging a war
on poverty, we are waging a war on poor people.
Nelson was convicted of vehicular homicide over her own child’s death, although
she does not own a car. Her conviction carries more time in jail than the person
who actually hit and killed her four-year-old son. Nelson, who had taken two
buses to Wal-Mart to shop for groceries, attempted to cross the street with her
three children at the bus stop, located on the opposite side of a highway from her
home. The bus stop is on a busy Atlanta road, a five-lane highway with no marked
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crossings, and the housing complex where she lived required crossing this
dangerous intersection.
The driver of the vehicle, who admitted to being under the influence of alcohol
and pain medication, and who is partially blind in one eye, pleaded guilty to a hitand-run charge. He has already served his six-month sentence, despite this being
his third hit-and-run conviction. The mother, Nelson, whose son was killed at the
tender age of four, has been convicted of vehicular homicide for “crossing the
street other than at a crosswalk” and “reckless conduct”, a crime for which there
is a three-year prison sentence.
I keep trying to understand this conviction and the crime that the jury believes
she committed. How is one guilty of vehicular manslaughter without a vehicle?
Why does the grieving victim face a stiffer penalty than the convicted driver? Why
are there no safe crossings in front of a residential complex? Why were the
complaints about traffic from other tenants of these apartments ignored? Why
not lower the speed limit in this residential neighbourhood? Why design a city
and a transportation system hostile to those who need it the most? Why
persecute the poor for simply being poor?
Because I believe the jury convicted Nelson for the crime of being poor in this
country – the crime of not being able to afford a vehicle; the crime of needing to
take two buses to buy groceries; the crime of living in an apartment complex
located on a busy highway; the crime of being reminded that while many of us
live in relative luxury, others are risking their lives for basic necessities. This
quote from the advocacy group, Transportation for America, sums up the true
scope of Nelson’s crime:
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“Nelson, 30 and African-American, was convicted on the charge this week by six
jurors who were not her peers: all were middle-class whites, and none had ever
taken a bus in metro Atlanta. In other words, none had ever been in Nelson’s
shoes:
They had never taken two buses to go grocery shopping at Wal-Mart with three
kids in tow. They had never missed a transfer on the way home that caused them
to wait a full hour-and-a-half with tired and hungry kids for the next bus. They
had never been let off at a bus stop on a five-lane speedway, with their apartment
in sight across the road, and been asked to drag those three little ones an
additional half-mile-plus down the road to the nearest traffic signal and back in
order to get home at last.”
I take for granted my ability to run to the grocery store and pull my car up to my
door without having to negotiate a five-lane highway with my small child; these
are the luxuries of my current existence. But as a child who grew up in the
unrelenting poverty of an inner city, I understand this story all too well. It is a
story of trying to provide for a family, even when that means two bus rides for
fresh groceries. It is a story of food deserts in urban areas, where the only food
available is the unhealthiest food available. It is a story of a city that doesn’t care
enough about its poorest citizens having access to efficient means of travel. It is a
story of human indifference to the true cost of poverty.
It is a story repeated in cities all over this country. We continue – whether in
planning our cities to privilege those who have vehicles or implementing an
educational system based on property taxes – to disadvantage the poor. Nelson
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may have erred in attempting to cross the street at the bus stop, but the crime for
which she was truly convicted was her poverty. She is poor in a country that hates
poor people, a country that hates the reminder that there are those who must
scrape together the barest necessities of life.
At the final sentencing hearing, the judge gave Nelson probation and the option
of a new trial. She will not have to serve the jail time that the guilty verdict of
vehicular manslaughter usually warrants. Perhaps the judge felt it was the height
of cruelty to send a mother to jail, one who had witnessed the brutal death of one
child by a drunk driver and who had two surviving children at home. I still think
about those 12 jury members, the group of her “peers” that found Nelson guilty in
the first place. And I continue to think about the larger structural forces in place
in the United States, from our tax system to our educational system, that issue a
“guilty verdict” to some, simply because of their poverty.
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