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Latest update: November 14, 2000
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On Structural Violence in Institutions

On November 13, 2000, Adriane Pool wrote:

The concept of structural violence is very interesting. I think that you are saying that rules, or maybe the lack of flexibility in those rules, causes such incidents as what occurred in Colorado. I feel that without rules there is chaos.

I work in a Los Angeles County Juvenile Hall, and rules are what the minors must follow. I think that without those rules there would be no control in the hall. On the other hand, sometimes the minors refuse to follow the rules, and in those instances, there has to be a mediator between the minor and me.

The lack of rules in the home is a contributing factor to why the minors end up in the juvenile justice system. I feel rules are needed to keep some type of order. There should also be flexibility with those rules as well.

On Tuesday, November 14, jeanne responded:

Good comment, Adriane. I'd give you a "B" for the comment as it stands. Here is a detailed explanation of how I came to that grade:

The word "causes" worries me. Causal analysis is complex, and requires careful self-reflexivity to assure that the researcher is not including his/her own perspective in the analysis to the exclusion of other important perspectives. But I would suggest that the "lack of flexibility in the rules," which I would express as lack of "agency" on the part of the young people, contributes to the chaos. (Henry and Milovanovic) I like that you expressed a reaction to the concept of structural violence. For an "A" I would like you to situate that reaction in terms of theory we have studied. Perhaps I could explain this by saying that your expression of your feelings to the theoretical explanations we are discussing is like the first step, and a very important one, at that, to synthesizing the construct into your own knowledge base. In doing so you are focussing our attentiion upon one aspect of the argument explaining the construct. For an "A" I want you to take the next step of analyzing your reactions in terms of the theoretical excerpts we have studied.

I have some concern with the expression, "no control." One of the most important factors Fellman brings out is that we need in a paradigm shift to see the problem as not one between "control" and "no control," or between "control" and "chaos," but as a problem in which we must discover an appropriate balance between the two extremes. That concern also applies to your use of "without rules" in the first paragraph. This is not an issue of choosing "with rules" or "without rules," but of balancing the "agency" between the young people themselves and the institution, in just the way Joanne balanced agency between herself and her parents. I thought you expressed that very well when you said that there should be "flexibility with those rules as well." All I would ask is that for an "A" is that you conceptually link that expression and cite the source of that reasoning: Fellman, and Henry and Milovanovic.

Adriane, your response provided a wonderful basis for discussion. For your own record of grades, the extension of reasoning I ask for here could be included in a simple face-to-face dialog, so that I am sure you have grasped the reasoning.