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Violence The term “violence” originates from the Latin language where we can find a differentiation between positive and negative violence which is preserved in the English language: potestas – power and violentia – violence. The Norwegian sociologist Johan Galtung who was also the founder of the discipline of Peace and Conflict Research divides violence into three main groups: direct, structural and cultural violence. Direct violence is visible, it occurs physically or verbally, and the victim and the offender can be clearly pointed out. Direct violence is highly interdependent with structural and cultural violence: cultural and structural violence causes direct violence which on the other hand reinforces the former ones. The concept of structural violence refers to institutionalized forms of discrimination and exclusion and therefore it reflects unequal levels of power. Structural violence “is not carried out by individuals but is hidden to a greater or lesser extent in structures” – it is “built in the social system and expresses itself in the unequal distribution of power and, as a result, unequal opportunities”. Therefore, structural violence includes all forms of exclusion or inequality in distribution of income, education opportunities, participation in social/cultural life, medical care etc. Cultural Violence includes all “aspects of culture that can be used to justify or legitimate the use of direct or structural Violence“. It is the sum of attitudes and beliefs we have been taught since early childhood, as well as beliefs that surround us in today’s everyday life about the necessity of violence. All of these three classifications can be expressed in verbal and/or physical forms. Verbal violenceis any use of language that causes harm. Considering the fact that it is the most common form of violence – and often causes more long-term results than domestic violence – it is a huge problem that it is not taken as seriously as other types of violence. Physical violence is any use of physical force that causes harm and mostly it is visible who is the victim and who is the offender. Violence has many faces and appears in many different ways. It is not always possible to attribute the different forms of violence to the defined categories, but it is clear that we face violence more or less every day, even when we are not always directly affected. The fact makes it even more important to think about this topic and to find solutions – even when they are small and if we change “just” our own behavior or our closer environment. Some forms of violence are too big to be faced alone, and most of the violence we face is structural or cultural which means that the bigger picture has to change – the way we arrange our societies and the way the economic structure – which causes most inequalities in the modern world – is working. Elisabeth Kraul

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