Why is South Africa Violent?

Renowned psychologist and expert on “violent behaviour”, Dr. James Gilligan, spoke at GIBS this week. Dr. Gilligan’s insights on violence were chilling in their relevance for South Africa.

Essentially, he argued for three factors that drive violent behaviour.

1) Biological: Such as testosterone levels, typical of males in early adulthood.
2) Social: Being socialised into patriarchal social norms that associate dominance with masculinity.
and, most importantly,
3) Psychological: The inherent need to be respected, the need for dignity, and self esteem.

The absence of the latter is the single strongest indicator of violence, especially one-on-one aggression.

My view is that these three are negatively coalescing in South African society;
A unemployed youth bulge, especially young males, who have been poorly socialised, and have no means of reinforcing self-esteem, deprived of dignity through poverty and joblessness, and susceptible to the “us versus them” narratives of populist rhetoric.

The work required to address this is far-reaching and enormous in scale, and would require unison between government, civil-society and business.
Lastly, it was startling to hear that $1 invested in prevention, equated to $4 saved in policing and correctional measures.

Marius Oosthuizen
Strategic Foresight Professional
CUSP Consulting (Pty) Ltd.

Cell: +27 (84) 670 1723
Email: marius
Web: www.thecusp.co.za
skype: marius_oosthuizen
twitter: @CUSPconsulting
Current Project: http://goo.gl/BPaZRj

“The best way to predict your future is to create it” – Abraham Lincoln

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