Peace-Building with a Whole Systems Approach for the End of Structural Violence – Sociology

If we are to teach peace, justice, and ecological sustainability, we not only need to teach it, but we must also enable others to hold such values and create them within themselves. A free and civil society is ‘civil’ precisely because of being non-­violent and in that sense civilized and thus typified by peace, safety, and peaceful conflict resolution. Conversely, a violent, non-peaceful civil society is an inner contradiction and actual perversion of its essence and functioning, a sort of ‘uncivil.

For those involved in peace movements the community of fellow activists, with whom they engage in ‘identity talk’, is rewarding. They are more likely to take part in this form of ‘planned behavior’ if some key experience motivated them to become involved in the peace movement. We find affirmation of our relationship with the world will likely affects the way we approach social transformation. For example, our commitment to the well-being of the environment shifts from mere “protection of our natural resources” to a more eccentric approach of caring about the environment for its own inherent value. Similarly, we begin to see environmental and other social issues not as something external to us, but about us. Actions that we take to address these issues are for ourselves.

Engaging in transformation to move beyond our minimal self, though, and to recover our connection with the world is also essential to building up worldwide movements to create new possibilities. There are unfortunate examples where the emergence of oppressive hierarchies and practices, distrust, internal disputes, and human-chauvinistic behaviors posed barriers to the realization of common goals.

The movements that involve people reaching across differences to form solidarity for the creation of just, caring, and life-sustaining societies in turn create space and opportunities for us to directly and indirectly connect with others and form noninstrumental relationships. Connecting with the people who are working for the same goals, sharing concerns and frustrations, but more importantly, hopes and visions, is one of the major sources of empowerment that sustain us as we participate in the process of social transformation.

There exists a clear correlation between structural violence and direct conflict. Structural violence reproduces itself, ultimately culminating in a direct conflict unless there is an intervention (from peace-builders).

Work concerned with peace movements and peacemaking, and the majority of papers on conflict resolution, also focus on addressing direct conflict. The bulk of research on peace education, attitudes, cognition and sustainable development relates to addressing structural violence, that is, to peace-building. Peace-building (addressing structural violence) differs from peacekeeping and peacemaking (addressing direct violence) in that it emphasizes social justice, tends to be proactive and ubiquitous, and typically represents a ‘threat’ to the status quo.



__Blumberg, H., Hare, A., & Costin, A. (2006). Peace Psychology: A Comprehensive Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511812682

__Learning Toward an Ecological Consciousness : Selected Transformative Practices, edited by E. O’Sullivan, et al., Palgrave Macmillan US, 2002. ProQuest Ebook Central

__Zafirovski, M. (2017). Identifying a free society: Conditions and indicators. Brill.