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Violence among peoples in the light of human frustration and aggression

By B. de Gaay Fortman


This article sets out to provide a general background to the study of aggression in the social sciences, with a particular focus on its link to collective violence. While the study of what happens in the human brain appears to be already highly complex, analysis of violent behavior appears to be even more intricate. A deductive system in the sense of a general and clear system of propositions logically connected to one another is not feasible, principally because contrary to the natural sciences there are no verities but merely “stylized facts.” One of these concerns the setting of human aggression in the light of frustration, as argued in the frustration–aggression hypothesis developed by Dollard et al. in 1939. Apart from conceiving of aggression as a pure human instinct, it may also be seen as externally driven, while a third possibility concerns culturally “learned” aggression. Proof of the latter is that the strongest correlation appears to be that between current violence and previous manifestations thereof. Attention is paid to the way in which Gurr has rooted his relative deprivation theory on causes of collective violence among peoples in mechanisms of frustration and aggression. That theory is taken a bit further in terms of “perceived acquirement failure,” which appears to be highly connected to the role of the state. Based on certain observations by Hannah Arendt, the argument then proceeds to violence as a manifestation of powerlessness. Finally, this leads to a discussion of justice as a crucial factor in what Durkheim used to call a “right to conflict.” In this way, human aggression is placed in a broad socio-economic context

Topics: Sociale Wetenschappen, frustration aggression analysis, conflict-study
Year: 2005
OAI identifier: oai:dspace.library.uu.nl:1874/34084
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