Policy-Making and Peacekeeping in the Community

May, 1998

NON-LINEAR SOCIO-DYNAMICS: blink.gif (995 bytes)Explications blink.gif (995 bytes)Implications blink.gif (995 bytes)Applications


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A 4-Dimensional Bifurcation Map

T. R. Young
The Red Feather Institute

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: tr@tryoung.com

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:       
VIOLENCE IN THE COMMUNITY.  There are several systems of power
which every one needs in order to join the human project.  They
     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
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
     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
     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
     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
     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