Woordgebruik in de sociale wetenschappen: het geval van 'positieve vrede (1978)

in: Acta politica, Volume 13, Issue 2, p. 261-274

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J. Galtung's redefinition of the concept of peace is a classic example of an attempt to reorient a discipline by coining a new term; but it should not be the pleasant connotation of the term 'positive peace', but its usefulness in studying factual violence, which should be decisive in determining the merits of the new definition. Three objections to Galtung's definition are raised: (1) It is quite ineffective to criticize the 'minimal' definition of violence, which is meant to refer to observable phenomena, by counterproposing a theoretical construct. Galtung's definition of violence, which, apart from 'direct' violence, includes also 'structural' violence, needs prior operationalization before it can be used in empirical research. (2) Although Galtung's use of the term 'structural violence' suggests otherwise, any indication of the social units to which the 'actual' & 'potential realizations' in his definition of violence refer, is lacking. Most of Galtung's examples are at the individual level. Social interdependencies (eg, those resulting from the DofL) necessitate the introduction of properties of the SE order in Galtung's terminology & require that he make explicit how 'the best attainable realizations' (as the most likely interpretation of 'potential realizations') can be incorporated in his thinking. (3) In drawing a distinction between 'personal violence' & 'structural violence', Galtung mistakes a distinction between theoretical alternatives in the study of violence (ie, the Clausewitzian approach vs the causal-empirical approach) for a distinction between kinds of violent relationships. In emphasizing that the causes of war should also be searched for in periods of peace, Q. Wright has shown that 'positive peace' cannot be considered as an alternative for 'negative peace'. Nevertheless, Galtung's use of the term has induced serious disagreement among peace researchers about the most desirable research strategy in their discipline. 'Critical' peace researchers (Galtung not included) tend to rely on ideological testimony instead of empirical proof for the causes of violence. Research into those causes, including the relationship between social injustice & violence, is regarded a more fruitful approach. 6 Tables. Modified HA.


Terminology, Terminological, Sociology, Violence, Violent, War, Wars, Warfare, Peace, Structural (see also Structure), Social sciences, Social scientific




0001-6810 (print)
1741-1416 (electronic)