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Is Violence a Cultural Universal?

Essay by   •  December 15, 2017  •  Research Paper  •  1,463 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,053 Views

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Is violence a cultural universal?

The world as we see it is a complex structure that is made of several different parts, if we put it into technical terms. These parts are the different cultures and nations, and they all make up our understanding of diversity across the world. However there are things that connect us no matter what culture we belong to, this phenomenon has been given the term; Cultural Universals. These connections are beneficial for us as human beings, since they allow us to establish intercultural communication and exchange. However there is a trait that seems to be hindering such progress; Violence. Violence has long been thought of as the act of intentionally harming another being. Either physically or morally. Violence can scale between plain domestic violence and such violence that involve parts of the world, different cultures. This research shall be discussing the question whether violence on a broad scale (wars, conflicts, political tension) could be counted as a cultural universal, and shall prove that it is in fact a cultural universal.

Let us start of with discussing what Cultural universals are? One could say that these are the traits that belong to the human being in general, and are the base of all people, the things that connect us no matter our culture. That is the simplest definition that comes to mind when thinking about cultural universals, and it fits quite well. Are there any cultural universals now is this concept still at work? Yes we can clearly say that this is in fact so, Cultural universals still persist. This can be backed up with the idea that intercultural communication is present, we are able to share, learn with and from, different cultures.This statement allows us to understand that without cultural universals, we would be unable to communicate with different cultures, these traits that connect us, are cultural Universals, without them globalization would not be possible, interaction between countries and people would be unlikely. To clarify, we can trace back to our species, we are all have our “biologico-cultural identity as homines sapientes.” (W. Kwasi P.53). Being a human person implies having the capacity of reflective perception, abstraction, and inference (W. Kwasi P.54) Reflective Perception, is the fact that we are aware of our external world, we are able to identify things and events and compare them to concepts that we have already experienced, the process of recollection. Abstraction is the act of generalizing our surroundings and events, it is all well and good to identify everything and anything from our recollections, however there would be an information overload in our minds, therefore we generalize things to make it easier, categorizing all occasions and finding similar traits that they have. Inference is how we judge the situation the act of understanding.

Violence on a broad level can be discussed in detail, our human race has been violent from the very start of our existence. Yet we come to the problem of actually defining violence, there are a great deal of definitions, yet the violence that we will cover will be categorized as “violence against others” “Structural violence” and “personal violence” the sort that has been intentionally placed against an opposition, and the violence that has been placed by the mass media. When we shall be speaking of violence, we will be discussing conflicts, battles and wars, since these are the things that hinder two cultures from being at peace with each other. Personal Violence, as the title implies, is the violence that occurs on a smaller scale, in a family, community, and small scale societies, we can bring about an example of social injustice, that would sum personal violence quite well. Structural violence on the other hand is when institutions in societies, prevent their populace of achieving their basic desires. There are plenty such cases, when governments take a dictatorship rule, and their population suffers from the lack of basic needs, food. Water, other necessities that humans have.Structural violence is not as common since it is not as apparent as personal violence. In the case of Personal violence we can see it occur on any occasion, if we go by the definition that Galtung, goes by, that violence is the act of a person being worse of than he could be thanks to third party interference, then it could be as simple as a child tiring out his parents. However these ranges, span from domestic personal violence, to societal violence that occurs on a broader range but still restricted to a certain community. Moving on to whether violence is in fact a cultural universal or not, the next chapter will cover this in detail,

Cultural universals, are things that connect our cultures disregarding the particular trait that belong to each separate culture, violence being a trait that is common within our species, we can conclude that it is in fact a cultural universal. Violence itself allows us to connect with different cultures, an example that we can bring up is the study of International Relations, this is a study that covers violence. In truth, it covers a broad range of violence that is mainly connected with the “'use of force', 'raining destruction', 'attack', 'offensive strategies', 'strike back' and 'assured destruction of cities'. These alternative words are not just a creative use of vocabulary. They keep at bay the harmful, destructive, personal nature of human violence”(T. Claire P.1816) So the reason that this study mainly uses alternatives to violence, is that people will accept it differently, such terms do not directly refer to violence harming people, instead it leans more towards the idea that violence brings about despair and ruin, yet human kind is not mentioned. The office that studies this is already a connection between different cultures. Also if we give it some more thought, in our current day and age, we are surrounded by Mass Media and different forms of globalization agents, these agents spread fashion, trends, news and violence. Usually if we look at mass media, it focuses on spreading things that will be accepted throughout different cultures, a more universal outlook on news, so violence being a part of the mass media broadcast’s, we are able to say that it is something universal, and at the same time it is being spread. Our reactions to violence occuring somewhere in the world, is not as sharp as it was in the past, we are no longer surprised by this fact, violence has become a day to day thing, it connects the cultures by giving them something to talk about, something to discuss. In this sense it is a universal.

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