Embedded violence and youth : the transmission and perpetuation of violence in post-war Sierra Leone
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War exerts an undeniably significant influence on the values, norms, behaviour and attitudes which constitute the shared culture of the society. During prolonged armed conflicts, the exposure to extreme violence creates a ‘culture of violence’ in which violence becomes embedded in the values system of the society and is therefore permitted and condoned, making violence resilient to peace-building efforts and therefore likely to recur. In order to understand how a ‘culture of violence’ persists long after the official end of war, it is necessary to understand how it is transmitted to younger generations and through them is carried over into peace time. This thesis aims to explore and understand the phenomenon of transmission of a ‘culture of violence’ focusing on youths as carriers of such transmission. To analyse the phenomenon, an integrative and comprehensive analytical framework was developed and a case study was chosen to which to apply the framework. The case study is Sierra Leone. The analytical framework is constituted by four ‘spaces’ of transmission which have emerged from the preliminary research. The four ‘spaces’ are: poverty, family, peers and social groups. The analytical framework was then utilised during the fieldwork stage of the project in order to identify the relevance of each ‘space’ as well as the interactions at work among the various ‘spaces’. From the material collected during fieldwork, poverty and family emerged as structural factors of the process of transmission while peers and social groups emerged as immediate factors. As a result of the fieldwork political factionalism was added to the analytical framework as a fifth ‘space’. The analysis of the fieldwork material revealed how the different ‘spaces’ are inextricably connected with one another and how they support each other while creating a network of forces that supports and perpetuates the transmission of a ‘culture of violence’.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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