Tuesday, August 24, 2010

GLOBALISM AND STRUCTURAL VIOLENCE - Marc Pilisuk - Peace, conflict, and violence: Peace psychology in the 21st century – Daniel Christie

Marc Pilisuk
Sometimes in history we witness so dramatic a change in the way human beings live that it affects almost every aspect of how we define what it means to be human. Globalism is such a phenomena. I have chosen the term globalism to emphasize the condition of a highly interdependent planet. One aspect of globalism refers to a global culture in which all people are exposed to similar ideas through the media. Globalism leads people to wear Western-style clothing, seek greater consumption regardless of what they already have, and to work hard to get money. Under globalism’s influence, people learn to equate the process of holding elections, however biased, with democracy, and equate corporate expansion and technological development with progress. As I shall argue in this paper, globalism is a pernicious form of structural violence which creates poverty, diminishes the human sense of agency or control, and harms the environment.

The chapter begins with a review of one of the most vital of human characteristics, our capacity for making attachments to other people and to the settings where we live. I show first how the capacity for human bonding, essential to human development, has evolved historically and how the settings for such development have changed. I then focus upon those aspects of globalization that have the most profound effects on us, including structural violence in the workplace, in women’s health, and in domestic terrorism. Finally, I point to the striking resiliency of people trying to retain and protect the values of caring for each and for their planet in a growing global community.

To understand globalism, it is useful to examine the opposite condition of localism. For most of human history, meaningful social interactions occurred in a limited geographic area among a small local band. People in these groups were typically linked to each other by kinship, but also economically, socially, and spiritually (Demos, 1970). People valued the lives of others and the ecology in which they lived because they were directly sustained by kin and local resources. Connection to other people and to a special place produces a sense of identity and of security (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1995; Winter, 1998). The mechanism that assured fulfillment of their ties was caring (Pilisuk & Parks, 1986). Families and local communities created norms limiting violence that might undermine their continuity. These pre-industrialized groups should not be romanticized. These societies were often rigid, highly stratified, and characterized by the exploitation of the majority for the few. Close living and scarce resources sometimes resulted in some anger and violence. Local units often preclude privacy and demand conformity from their members. Those who found themselves in oppressive families or communities often had no way to leave or to improve their lot. Some families did not survive. But those kinship groupings that best provided for the care and safety of their members were able to endure and pass on their methods of assuring supportive behavior.

As corporations become the social group commanding major portions of the waking day, the mechanism that assures interactive behavior is not caring, but rather marketability. Individual identities are no longer created solely in small units. Increasingly, identities and measures of success become the ability to sell oneself to a large corporate entity. Although family and community life are still retained outside of the corporation, participation in the marketplace often weakens the feeling of belonging and meaning (Bellah, Madsen, Sullivan, Swidler, & Tipton, 1985; Pilisuk & Parks, 1986). One anthropologist writing in 1936 expressed the hope that growing industrialization would not further transform society into a collection of rootless individuals searching in vain for the bands they had lost (Linton, 1936).

Read more:

Structural Violence Section Introduction - Peace, conflict, and violence:
Peace psychology in the 21st century. Daniel Christie

Peace Psychology Book

Peace Psychology 2009 - PowerPoint Presentation

Dan Christie, Professor of Psychology at Ohio State University

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