The Roots and Prevention of Genocide and Related Mass Violence

Ervin Staub

in The Slippery Slope to Genocide

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199791743
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919222 | DOI:
The Roots and Prevention of Genocide and Related Mass Violence

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This chapter describes influences leading to genocide (and other mass violence). These influences include economic deterioration, political chaos, great social changes, and conflict, usually between subgroups within a society. These conditions profoundly affect people materially and psychologically. Especially in the presence of cultural characteristics such as a history of devaluation of a subgroup, an authority-oriented culture, and past victimization, they give rise to scapegoating, destructive ideologies, and the beginning of an evolution of increasing hostility and violence. Leaders, followers, and witnesses/bystanders all have a role; it is the passivity of internal and external bystanders that allows the unfolding of violence. The chapter distinguishes between late prevention, which requires crisis diplomacy and forceful responses, and early prevention and reconciliation to help prevent new violence. Early prevention requires fast responses to difficult life conditions and conflict, which can promote a more positive orientation toward a devalued group, and the creation of constructive ideologies that embrace all groups and of groups that help people constructively fulfill basic psychological needs in difficult times. The chapter also briefly describes the work of the author and his associates in Rwanda, Burundi, and the Congo, using workshops/training and educational radio dramas to help people understand the roots of violence and avenues to prevention, as well as the positive impact of this work shown by evaluation studies. It discusses training that can promote constructive leadership.

Keywords: genocide; mass violence; prevention; reconciliation; leadership; passive and active bystanders; destructive and constructive ideology

Chapter.  9555 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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