Structural violence is a relatively understudied phenomenon in psychology despite its pervasive existence and powerful negative impact on our society. We argue that structural violence differs from the other types of violence in that power relations within structural violence are less visible and exist in various forms infused in the existing social hierarchies. Furthermore, while there may not be a clearly identified source of violence within this contruct, its negative consequences are typically visible. Drawing from Bronfenbrenner, we suggest that structural violence is nested within three systems, the socio-political (the macrosystem), the socio-environmental (the mesosystem) and the psychological (the microsystem). The mechanisms by which structural violence operates are found in the state and its institutions. Social institutions including the law and educational facilities sanction and enforce conditions that place people at high risk for negative consequences such as economic (unemployment), psychological (suicide, mental illness), behavioral (crime), and physical (illness). Structural violence is also suggested to have a transactional relationship with other types of violence, such as interpersonal (i.e.,domestic violence and childhood sexual abuse) and intrapersonal (i.e., suicide attempts and drug overdose) violence. Likewise, these three types of violence have a mutual effect on each other. Furthermore, structural violence and its effects disproportionately impact marginalized populations (Christie, 1998) (i.e., welfare recipients) and are typically manifested in the differential rates of mortality, morbidity, and incarceration rates among such groups. Finally, community interventions for substance abuse and domestic violence are suggested within this violence paradigm.
Learning Objectives: At the end of this session, the participant will be able to distinguish structural violence from other kinds of violence and be able to identify the manifestations of structural violence.
Keywords: Theory, Violence
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University
Disclosure not received
Relationship: Not Received.
The 129th Annual Meeting of APHA