CHAOS, POWER, AND VIOLENCE:
NON-LINEAR SOCIO-DYNAMICS: Explications Implications Applications
A 4-Dimensional Bifurcation Map
14 May, 1998
A paper prepared for the 5th Annual Summer Institute on Violence and Abuse Studies at Moorhead State University. Distributed as part of the Red Feather Institute Transforming Sociology Series. The Red Feather Institute, 8085 Essex, Weidman, Michigan, 48893. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A. INTRODUCTION: In the first half of this presentation, I combined some new ideas in non-linear social dynamics with the human interest in a peaceable environment for men, women and children. In this part, I will move the analysis up a level; to the community in which the family must necessarily survive.Again, there is a lot on the Red Feather HomePage which will serve as reference to this first part. You may find it at: www.tryoung.com/chaosVIOLENCE IN THE COMMUNITY. There are several systems of power which every one needs in order to join the human project. They include:a. Social Power b. Moral Power c. Economic Power d. Physical Power and e. Legal Power.The basic thesis of this analysis is that when power inequalities increase beyond given limits, entirely new forms of social behavior may emerge. We will look at various forms of violence and consider the ways in which power inequalities work to trigger both small and large increases in violence.In this analysis then, I suggest that when great changes in rates of street crime occur, we must look to changes in key structural variables.A. STREET CRIME. Most theories of crime, good on their own limited terms, view crime as social psychological phenomena: differential association, faulty socialization, peer group influence, too few controls with which to install fear and terror as well as theories having to do with psycho-pathology.In particular, when people have little social, moral and/or economic power, they may resort to physical power with which to gain things they need, want and are taught to desire. Looking at the great differences in crime rates between blacks and Anglos then, it is not race but racism which creates great explosions in crime on the streets; racism combined with unkept promises in both the legal and political systems.B. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. In the first part of the presentation, I hinted at some larger, extra-familial variables which may trigger violence in the family. I would like to make it more explicit. I have two ideas here which may help you sort out domestic violence:A. When parents have three or more uncertainties with which to deal, some may resort to violence. Such resort is usually pre-theoretic; that is it won't change things.B. When unemployment rates increase to and beyond a bifurcation point, explosions of violence in the home may occur.C. When ratios between income and expenditures become erratic, some people may turn to forms of white collar crime, street crime and or domestic violence in the effort to cope with uncertainty. Some mothers may turn to prostitution; some fathers may push street drugs; some children may shop-lift when before such things were unthinkable.It is not so much that poverty pushes great changes but rather that people innovate in order to cope with uncertainty.C. RACIAL VIOLENCE AND HATE. Racism and racial violence is an ugly form of community violence which is not always given priority in the political, legal or criminal justice system. Yet people are equally violated; equally dead as when street thugs murder or when corporations dump toxic chemicals.Several key structural variables may be the source of such violence.A. Unemployment. When jobs are scarce, competition for them explodes exponentially. Racism, discrimination and ethnocentricism are good tools with which to claim priority on the job market; good, that is if one is white.B. Affirmative Action. It may be the case that affirmative action itself triggers racism. In Detroit last week, 30 or so KKK members and some neo-nazis staged a rally with which to protest, politicize and motivate renewal of racist policies.The thing about Affirmative Action is that it provides unknowable increase in moral, social and legal power for minorities. These increases trigger uncertainties in established social relations; bosses, police, co-workers, small business owners and neighbors become uncertain about just how racist one can be. Yes, and even our own students on campus turn to racist hate as a solution to the problem of uncertainty.C. Status Claims. Gerry Lenski, long ago, published a paper on status crystallization in which he helped us understand that changes in status honor was a great problem for both minority and majority persons...by minority/majority of course, one means minorities in terms of class, honor and power.The case is thus: changes in the forms of power above unsettle relations between groups; that disturbance evokes new ways to claim and to reject claims of social honor.D. GENDER VIOLENCE. There is a high school in an American city where women are routinely subject to rape and battering. Gender violence; rape and battering has always been with us; the question for those concerned with social peace is what triggers increase and decrease in gender violence.The forms of power can be deployed to reduce or to increase such violence.A. Moral power, legitimated by religious figures, can be a motivating force for battering wives, children and other women 'under' the authority of a patriarch. When changes in moral power occur, they bring uncertainty to men and women alike. When women refuse to honor claims of moral legitimacy to physical violence; when males insist upon compliance, entirely new levels of domestic violence may occur.B. Social Power. Several historic changes have altered patterns of social power in the home. Moving production from cottage to factory takes males away for hours and hours. Women begin to make decisions formally left to males.C. The Great Explosion in Middle Class families in the 18th and 19th century gave some women considerable freedom, wealth and knowledge...all three heretofore male privilege.Critical masses of such women in English, French, American and Australian cities fueled feminist movements. The effects of these movements continue today.D. Changes in medical and physiological knowledge gave women more control over their own bodies and over reproduction.E. Modes of Reproduction change as mode of economic production change. With machine production in factory and farm, children become economic liability. Women are freed from traditional housewife roles and move into the labor market. With their own source of income, they resist male dominance. Males, singly or collectively adopt new social practices; some of which are most supportive of; some of which are most hostile to women.F. Recent changes in wage and labor market have decreased wages of men; great numbers of women have joined the labor market to maintain household income. Some, an unpredictable number of males, turn to violence as a way to manage uncertainty in home and on the job.E. RAPE. Whatever rape is for those who commit it, rape is, sociologically, an exercise in the use of physical power. Guns, knives, fists and boots are not part of sex; they are part and parcel of politics...gender politics. Rape is not explicable in terms of genes, biology, testosterone or child rearing. It is part and parcel of a great many socio-cultural practices but it is not, first of all, biological or psychological in nature.The question becomes why do some societies have a lot of rape and others very little. Why are there large increases in rape at times and reductions at other times for the same society; the same genetic population???Feminists say that, and I agree, rape is a form of social control. It is a practice by which women are confined, in terror, to home and family. Sexual predators terrorize women who appear alone at night; who venture out in some parts of town. Men who are otherwise 'nice young men,' 'good fathers and good husbands,' quiet and reliable workers explode into sexual violence with small changes in key variables:1. Economic uncertainties may trigger sexual violence. 2. Competition for jobs may trigger sexual violence. 3. Anger with spouse or with sexual partner may be transferred to innocent others. 4. Graphic scenes in movies and television programming may trigger specific outbreaks of sexual violence...may.SOCIAL POLICY and COMMUNITY VIOLENCE. Chaos theory suggests that if we wish to reduce, to minimize community violence, we should fashion social policy with which to manage uncertainty in family and in social life generally. Again some mixtures of order/disorder are absolutely essential to the human project; some mixtures in some key variables do much mischief to the lives of men and women. The central task of those who work in non-linear social dynamics is and will continue to be the discovery of those key variables and those changes points of those key variables which promote a wide variety of violences in our daily lives. If we want democracy and social justice, we must work for both stability in the forms of power and in a great deal less inequality.As Lord Acton said, Power Corrupts; Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely. I would alter that a bit: Power is essential to the social process;Absolute Power creates uncertainties for the powerless. Uncertainties in Power trigger uncertainties in social life. Uncertainties in everyday life lead to pre-theoretical rebellion and resistance.
Go in Peace, TR