Perception of the Legitmation of Violence: African Example

Dickson Ogbonnaya Igwe


ABSTRACT Violence in Africa for instance is pathological. Some forms of violence, particularly those perpetrated by the law enforcement agents of the state operate as an effective mechanism for order maintenance and stability. Some other forms of violence are usually in opposition to stability and calls for change. While the former is legitimate the letter is illegitimate. Violence plays an indispensable role in power acquisition and maintenance. Those who have the freedom which derives from the right to use legitimated violence are in a much better position to acquire or maintain power than are persons lacking this freedom to challenge it successfully. Any change which extends or restricts the boundaries of legitimated violence is likely to affect directly the distribution of power, thereby affecting the nature of social relations within and between groups. This relationship between power and violence is one major reason why it is important to understand the processes of legitimation and de-legitimation of violence. Legitimation and de-legitimation of violence having significant political and social consequences does not occur without advocates, justifications platform, and alteration of public reactions and conceptions. Using conflict and liberal perspectives to evaluate the occurrence of violence in social relation, this paper discusses peasantry/state power relations and power change in African context and the place of violence therein. It examined the quest to violently challenge the state authority and also the continuous push for order/stability and continuity by the state. Also, the paper attempts resolution to the contradictions arising from the use of violence either to ensure stability or change. Key words: Violence, Legitimation, De-legitimation, Law enforcement, Peasantry, State, Power relation.

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