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What makes a society violent?

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calvo View Drop Down
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    Posted: 17 Jan 2011 at 14:56
Many times I have wondered what are the factors that increases the amount of violence in a certain society. Logically, poorer countries tend to be more violent than richer counties because many people live in poverty and would need to steal or rob to make a living, yet not all countries on the same economic level are as equally violent.

For example, in Latin America, Mexico today, and Colombia up until recently, have seen very high rates of murder, kidnapping, drug trafficking, robberies, and corruption, but other countries such as Peru, Ecuador, and Paraguay, while having the typical problems and conflicts of underdeveloped nations, are not particularly reputed to be very violent.
China is another country with a very low GDP per capita, yet most of the country is relatively safe, yet India has a much higher rate of violent crime (especially interethnic).
In north Africa, both Morocco and Algeria were ex-French colonies with their fair share of poverty and underdevelopment, yet Algeria is far more violent than Morocco.

What are the factors that make some societies more violent than others?
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Omar al Hashim View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jan 2011 at 22:51
Organisation, lack of corruption, in state, or at least police & law, services are the two things that come to mind in preventing disorder.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jan 2011 at 23:57
Originally posted by calvo calvo wrote:


For example, in Latin America, Mexico today, and Colombia up until recently, have seen very high rates of murder, kidnapping, drug trafficking, robberies, and corruption, but other countries such as Peru, Ecuador, and Paraguay, while having the typical problems and conflicts of underdeveloped nations, are not particularly reputed to be very violent.


Indeed. There isn't a direct relationship between income and violence. For instance, I bet Bolivia is a lot more peaceful than Mexico.
In Latin America, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia lead the rankings of violence. The reason for the violence in Colombia is obvious: it is a country desintegrated by an endless civil war. The violence in the other three countries, don't have excuses, though.

Why Mexico, Brazil and Venezuela has such chaos? I believe the reason is the lack of discipline of theirs police. For some reason, those countries have not invested in theirs police as much as they should, and also there has been an historical lack of countrol on the members of those policemen.





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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jan 2011 at 08:38

Anyone familiar with Max Weber? His definition of the state had been widely adopted by historians and social analysts across the world, maintaining that a state is an organisation with a monopoly of legitimate violence within a given area. The weaker the state is the less able it will be to enforce its monopoly, in turn determining to what extent the individual must rely on his own strength and personal network for security. The weaker the state, the more you will see this kind of private, small-scale everyday violence, as people are seeing to their own justice.

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Which brought ten thousand pains to the Achaeans,
And cast the souls of many stalwart heroes
To Hades, and their bodies to the dogs
And birds of prey
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jan 2011 at 11:46
Incisive point, Reginmund, but are many willing to accept the fact that in term of fundamentals there is scant separation between "freedom fighters" and criminal organizations as far as the "protection" rackets are concerned? It is just that the latter are a bit too anarchic to consolidate effective and continuous administration. Wink 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jan 2011 at 12:41
There is indeed scant separation. For what is a state other than the most successful and elaborate mafia organisation in the region?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jan 2011 at 13:02
Culture is also important, though less so than the recognised attitude that citizens voluntarily yield to the state's monopoly on power.

When it comes to crimes of passion, such as what we seem to be focused on here, a strong 'honour' code that compels an individual to seek retribution goes a long way to explaining violent reprisals. Societies with highly machoistic or militaristic cultures seem more prone than most to be violent, usually in the form of young males engaging in acts of violence to 'prove' themselves to their peers.

Societies with higher degrees of racial, ethnic, religious and political plurality also seem to me to be more violent simply because its people have more to disagree over than in a homogeneous society where people tend to empathise with one another more easily.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jan 2011 at 13:18
Peoples that share the same culture, or civilization in the Huntington sense, not necesarilly has the same mentality or attitude at all, and societies may work very differently from each others.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jan 2011 at 22:21
The reason one might get "blown away" in Colombia could be starkly different from those set in Swaziland and if you are going to "classify: in terms of culture you open up a Pandora's Box of ill-conceived notions. Despite the plethora of personal arms held in the United States, its homicide rate is significantly lower than that of the Ukraine, where I doubt none but former aparatchnik have access to arms. Chile has about the same homicide rate as Jordan but higher than Spain's. So if we are going to babble on about "culture" figure that one out?  ireland and Senegal have the same stats so if one does have a cultural rationale then the numerical static needs a wooffer!
 
Societal violence--recall Carcharadon's notions on pacific pygmy groups--has too many institutional variants to truly have meaning comparitively if we are going to shovel the detritus of culture around. Criminality can be startlingly pacific while mayhem in the name of liberty can be surprisingly murderous!
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jan 2011 at 22:33
Quote Societies with higher degrees of racial, ethnic, religious and political plurality also seem to me to be more violent simply because its people have more to disagree over than in a homogeneous society where people tend to empathise with one another more easily.
I think that when there are relatively few, easily separable sides that is true.
However when there are uncountable groups with blurry lines and constant shifting aleigences the opposite is true.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mixcoatl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jan 2011 at 23:20
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Despite the plethora of personal arms held in the United States, its homicide rate is significantly lower than that of the Ukraine, where I doubt none but former aparatchnik have access to arms. Chile has about the same homicide rate as Jordan but higher than Spain's. So if we are going to babble on about "culture" figure that one out?  ireland and Senegal have the same stats so if one does have a cultural rationale then the numerical static needs a wooffer!

Something one shouldn't forget either is that a higher homicide rate does not even necessarily mean that a country is more murderous. Apart from differing legal definitions of homicide, differences in infrastructure and medical care also make a difference: if you end up bleeding empty on the streets of Sweden you'll have a better chance of survival than if you're doing the same thing on the streets of Honduras.

Perhaps one of the most baffling examples of a group of countries with similar culture and economic situation but vastly different rates of violent crime is Central America. Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras rank amongst the most homicidal countries in the world (homicide rates of 60-70 per 100,000) while Nicaragua is relatively safe (5 per 100,000).

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jan 2011 at 23:28
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

... Chile has about the same homicide rate as Jordan but higher than Spain's.


Don't be a manipulator. Indeed, Chile has a slightly higher murder rate than Spain, 0.014705 versus 0.0122456 per thousand people. Or 147 versus 122 per each ten million people. Confused

But you must consider that Chile has a lot less murder per capita than United States (0.042802), Finland (0.0283362), Portugal (0.0233769), Korea (0.0196336), France (0.0173272), Iceland (0.0168499), Australia (0.0150324) and Canada (0.0149063), and just above the UK (0.0140633).

So, please, don't speak so much BS, OK?

Source:
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_percap-crime-murders-per-capita


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jan 2011 at 00:47
Once again you miss the point and fall for the waving red cape, Pinguin! In the corrida of life, you are just too predictable and all that is left is to call in the banderilleros to draw your attention to the correct object of your ire. For one last time culture as a medium for the explanation of societal violence is ludicrous. After all, under your posit we could account for Chile's higher homicide rate than Spain's as a result of the impact of Mapuche culture on all those mestizos!
 
How's that as an example of Penguin logic, toro?


Edited by drgonzaga - 19 Jan 2011 at 02:59
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jan 2011 at 01:34
The first hurdle I see for anyone wanting to make such comparisons is: What is the level of reporting in the target countries? To make a valid comparison, one must have some relativity in the crime reporting level. I saw China mentioned as a country with a lower crime rate. SO, who is collecting the data. And what is the rate of reported crimes versus unreported ones. When I was in Korea, they apprehended a taxi driver who was a serial killer. Every once in a while, when he got a single female in his cab under the right circumstances, he would drive her out to a remove location, rape and murder her, and dismember her body. What came out in the course of this story was the fact that the public had never been alerted to this killer. The crimes were never reported outside of official channels in order to maintain the trust and confidence of the public in their police.

So, for investigators, how can one be sure that the crime reporting level of any two countries being studied are, in fact, comparable?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jan 2011 at 11:16
Especially if you are going to quote to six significant figures.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jan 2011 at 11:19
In the book The Spirit Level the authors see economic inequality in a society as a highly contributing factor to increased violence.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jan 2011 at 11:24
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Once again you miss the point and fall for the waving red cape, Pinguin! In the corrida of life, you are just too predictable and all that is left is to call in the banderilleros to draw your attention to the correct object of your ire.


Please, don't fool around with those barbarian custums of the Gallegos. Bullfighting is something surpassed by more civilized peoples, so please don't remember me yours barbarity.

Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:


For one last time culture as a medium for the explanation of societal violence is ludicrous. After all, under your posit we could account for Chile's higher homicide rate than Spain's as a result of the impact of Mapuche culture on all those mestizos!
.


Pretty racist, and stupid conclusion, I would said. The recent history of Spain shows Spaniards had been more barbarian that many other mixed peoples of the New World. Franco alone killed a million. In comparison, our dictators are amateurs.

And as usual, you are twisting the facts. A small difference make nothing. Isn't Spain supposed to be a developed country? So why so many women died at the hand of theirs brute husbands there? Ouch

 
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

How's that as an example of Penguin logic, toro?

De Toros hablará tu abuela (Your grandmom speaks bull LOL)
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Edited by pinguin - 19 Jan 2011 at 11:25
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote David Greenwich Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jul 2012 at 13:27
Chances of getting caught are a big factor.
 
Somewhere like Jamaica in the Caribbean has appalling levels of violence. But small islands with basically the same ethnic mix and the same levels of poverty in the Caribbean have far less violent crime - presumably because there is nowhere to run to and hide.
 
Like most things, violence is a complex social phenomenon strongly influenced by poverty, unemployment levels, cultural attitudes, inequality, availability of weapons, cultural cohesion, and  effectiveness of the state apparatus (the criminal justice system). 
What is past is not necessarily settled.
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