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The Concept Structural Violence

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Violence leads to suffering; but it is not always that one can see Violence. The traditional understanding of violence follows the general path of manifested violence in form of bodily hurt or injury. The concept of structural violence has always been used in the lexicon of Marxist theorists while analysing the relation between class structure, power and labour exploitation. Gramsci (1971) explains structural violence in terms of cultural hegemony wherein the “civil society” works tirelessly in ‘manufacturing consent” and getting legitimacy for the oppression by the dominant class. The emergence of structural violence as an academic concept is mostly through the works of Galtung (1969) and was further cemented by Farmer (1992, 2003), Bourgois (2003) and others.
For a person looking objectively the everyday life of an individual may look peaceful in the absence of any physical form of violence. But the everyday life itself may contain violence in structural form which is called ‘violence of everyday life’ (Scheper-Hughes, 1993). One of the best example of structural violence, but mostly taken for granted is ‘cultural violence’. ‘Cultural violence’ refers to aspects of culture that can be used to justify or legitimize direct or structural violence, and may be exemplified by religion and ideology, language and art, empirical science and formal science and thus follows “follows the footstep of structural violence” (Galtung, 1990).
This essay tries to look into the concept of structural/everyday violence using the case study of caste system. The essay will make use of photographs to explain the notion of structural /everyday violence as a lens for understating violence and suffering.
Structural violence can best explained in the wo...

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