Open Access Research Article

Reflections on School Violence from A Psychosocial Perspective

Maribel Garcia Rivera1 and Nestor Raul Porras Velasquez2*

1 Psychologist at the Catholic University of Colombia

2Psychologist at the National University of Colombia

Corresponding Author

Received Date: November 07, 2018;  Published Date: January 10, 2019


The main objective of this article is to conceptual reflection of elements on the new Provide Discourses of school violence from a psychosocial perspective, to think About the interpersonal relationships That emerges in the school world. The methodology was the documentary analysis. The results show how in the logic of the discourse of violence in Educational Institutions is strongly supported by the discourse of science and the technologies of the self. The conclusions point out That the monitoring and production of docile subjectivities are not only possible but desirable as Proposed Also for the world of the school.

Keywords: Social psychology; School violence; Psychosocial perspective; Social discourse


The main objective of this article is to provide conceptual elements reflection on the new discourses of school violence from a psychosocial perspective, to think interpersonal relationships emerging in the world of school. The methodology was the documentary analysis. The results show how the logic of the discourse of violence in educational institutions is strongly supported by the discourse of science and technologies of the self. The findings indicate that control production and docile subjectivities are not only possible but even proposed as desirable for the world of school.


The results of previous research show that violence in Colombia has become so prevalent that even a historical period takes that name (the period between 1948 and 1958). Similarly, violence has been regarded as one of the many problems that affect everyday relationships and perceptions of citizens, and has been recognized as one of the main sources of disruption of socio-economic and political order of the country. The implications of this problem are reflected in the deterioration permanently the quality of life of citizens by high levels of insecurity they have to live, material losses, the cost of many lives, migration causes and incidence which has economic and social development of countries [1].

Violence in Colombia has been present in all ages and is constitutive of our nation. For this reason, some researchers are wondering what’s new in the studies of this phenomenon. Because although they have increased studies and academic research on this subject, aimed primarily by the need to understand and propose alternative intervention against everyday violence that accompanies us permanently; reality seems not change.

According to Serrano J [2], an approach to the meaning of violence involves understanding the cultural and social context in which it emerges. Because that is where social actors construct their identity, establish links and different forms of interaction that mediate their participation as members of any community. Consequently, understanding the socio-historical facts which part violence and recognition of their particularity and peculiarity is it produces immediate effects on the paradigms of social sciences. Psychology resulting in an expansion of frameworks of analysis of this phenomenon beyond merely individual.

Studies to explain the violence in Colombia can be framed in different perspectives, objectives and very specific interests, ranging from understanding it as a manifestation of our nature, as a learned and maintained by contextual conditions pattern to consider it as a condition through our culture. In other words, we can say, say that violence is part of our socialization processes.

In addition, there is great interest of researchers to identify different expressions and contexts in which violence emerges and the constant desire to propose and promote the design of intervention strategies in order to create conditions that allow prevention. Within these intervention strategies, theoretical positions and varied research methodologies, which undoubtedly have contributed to enriching our framework of analysis and interpretation of phenomena in question are combined.

Moreover, the two phrases that appear at the beginning of this document, refer to violence; the first indicates a direct relationship between violence and hatred (with emotional and affective implications), while the second expresses an instrumental relationship of human violence (with rational implications). However, I want to make clear input that perhaps humans are not really aware of our true destructive capacity; or not is the same, we do not know that we are more violent than we would accept, think or acknowledge.

Speech as A Process of Social Interaction

There are many ways, perspectives and disciplines to address the study of discourse. In this document, we will follow the proposal of Van Dijk T [3], for taking the discourse as a process of social interaction. For him, the speech is also a practical, social and cultural phenomenon as language users employing the speech made social events and participate in social interaction, typically in conversation and other forms of dialogue. So that an interaction of this kind is always framed in different social and cultural contexts.

However, this approach of discourse and action in society does not mean that we are no longer interested in the discursive structure, on the other hand, the analysis of discourse as social action also focuses on order and structure. In other words, the discursive use of language is not just a series of words, sentences and propositions, but also interrelated sequences of actions.

When we talk about violence, stories and arguments not only have abstract structures and involve processes and mental representations but are communicative acts by actual users of language in real situations, as in the case of school or workplace violence. Consequently, when we speak we perform speech acts we perform acts so as to make promises, assertions or allegations, answer questions, defend, be kind, persuade, etc. Here are some examples of what we do with words.

It is clear to Van Dijk T [3], language users use texts and speech not only as speakers, writers, listeners or readers, but also as members of social groups, groups, professions, organizations, communities, societies or cultures. Thus, users of language to produce speech, and exhibit are simultaneously and actively, their roles and identities.

Finally, it is also important to note that the order of the words, style and consistency, among many other properties of discourse can be described not only as abstract structures, but as strategic achievements of language users in their action (interaction). Consequently, we can say, according to the above, the speech is not only a form of social action, but above all a human activity controlled, intentional and purposeful.

Before addressing the issue of violence I will leave a question that is essential for purposes of understanding the relationships between discourse violence and teacher malaise: What role does the speech in the maintenance and legitimation of school violence or employment?

General Violence and School Violence

Violence seems to be a permanent companion in history and constitution of the human being and a source of study and concern in contemporary societies. Traditionally, philosophers, politicians, psychologists and social scientists have questions mainly oriented to the causes of violence in order to control it, avoid it or eradicate it. However, various forms of expression of human violence make this task a complex task to solve from such reductionist approaches [4,5].

Although there are a large number of research and studies that provide relevant information on this matter, theorists fail to establish a consensual definition of violence, because this concept can have different levels of abstraction and can also be generalized differently, according to historical and social context in which emerges the interests of the dominant social groups. Martin-Baro I [6] states that there is great confusion about the terminology used to refiriese violence not only in everyday language as subject to the manipulation of mass media, but also in the concepts used by social scientists. The main confusion, according to this author, is between the concepts of violence and aggression.

Consequently, one of the first questions we must examine rigorously, as researchers of human behavior is the meaning of violence. Violence word comes from the Latin “vis” meaning strength. Etymologically, the word violence means “use of force against somebody something.” Consequently, the ways in which it is used (used) force against someone something are endless and depend on the socio-political and economic context of each historical period. In this first approach you can understand that violence is a deliberate act, an action done on purpose by a social agent. The question is what is the purpose or intent (voluntary act) to use force against anyone? The answers are moving towards control, submission, or another domain to my will or a social or symbolic order that would put limits on their natural behavior. That is, to get him out of the animal world and include it in the world of culture.

For its part, the violent, according to the Dictionary of the Royal Academy, refers to that or what, first, “is out of its natural state, situation or mode”; That or what “works or works with momentum and strength”; “That which is executed (performed) against the regular mode or force of reason and justice”. Aggression is defined in the same dictionary as the act of “rush to anyone to kill, injure or make any harm.” In this case, the aggressive act or aggression aims and purpose destruction or elimination of the other. In this context one can speak of acts of cruelty.

According to social psychologists Ignacio Martin-Baro I [6] of the above definitions can be deduced that

The concept of violence is broader than that of aggression and in theory, any act that a dose of excessive force is applied may be considered violent. Aggression however, it would only be a form of violence; one that applies force against someone intentionally, ie that action by which it is intended to cause harm to another person [6].

Thus, for Martin-Baro I [7], it is possible to talk about structural or institutional violence, as social structures can apply a force to remove people from your state or situation, or that forces them to act against its feel and look. This analysis can not be done outside the system, group and power relations in which human actions are framed as ideological.

For Zizek S [8,9], there are not only many forms of violence, qualitatively different, but the same acts (acts) have different levels of significance and various historical effects. For this reason, violence can be analyzed from different wider than other prospects. However, being only analytical perspectives are partial views versions or limited the complex phenomenon of violence as part of social and human reality [10-13].

For many authors the social interaction is the main theme and the fundamental concept of social psychology. In that sense, speak of social, cultural, socio-cultural phenomena, communication or symbolic reference process means, somehow, a type of human interaction. Consequently what we want, we feel, think, value, among other things, is the product of social interaction. In other words, we need the other to exist.

On the other hand, social interaction can be used to explain both violent behavior such as aggression or aggression, themes that have a key impact on our daily lives, for their short-, medium- and long-term coexistence. In addition, these subjects are essential in understanding and conceptualization of what it is, can be or should be a partnership.

It is necessary to consider the relationship that exists between social norms and violence. It is clear that our behavior is governed by rules, ie, social norms, which are shared by members of a community. The rules are part of implicit knowledge of the people and, therefore, they are not recognized openly until someone, for whatever reason, the breaks. Though act violently is not a pattern of behavior socially acceptable in situations you determine the use of violence receives a strong social support explicitly in general.

In this context, it should be noted that although the rule governing social interaction is the norm of reciprocity, which prescribes that, despite the rejection showing people in a society by violent behavior is considered acceptable when the behavior violent is executed in response to an attack or as a defense [14].

Meanwhile, Galtung J [15], proposes three types of violence that exist in today’s society. Cultural violence, structural and direct. Cultural violence is defined here as any aspect of a culture susceptible of being used to legitimize direct or structural violence. Cultural violence is equivalent to the symbolic violence incorporated into a culture that although no kills or maims as the other two types of violence, however it is used to legitimize, justify and impose an ideological position on human acts. It manifests itself through art, science or religion, among other areas. The name of cultural violence refers more features or aspects of a culture than the culture itself.

Structural violence, it is considered the most dangerous of all because it is the originating through various systems as a result of not being able or not to see fulfilled the needs you have. Finally, direct violence, is what is done physically or verbally about people, against the environment or against the property of society in general. Assassinations, natural resource damages against or attacks on property are some of the most common manifestations of such violence. For him, there is a close relationship between the three types of violence. Problems or questions from standing in the analysis studies on violence are two: 1) the use of violence and 2) the legitimacy of its use. The psychological mechanism of legitimization of violence is the internalization of this culture by subjects. There is reason to be violent and it’s not so bad bad or justified acts of violence.

Similarly, Zizek S [9], suggests that more and more people talk about violence, but very few do critically. For this reason, it invites us to think seriously and rigorously, what is, how it works and who benefits violence? The initial questioning is directed toward: What do we really understand by violence? Even that, in general, violence seems to be associated with aggression, but when one examines this issue patience and thoroughness realizes they are not the same.

Like Zizek S [8,16,17] consider that the symbolic imposition of our preferences are established as the main cause of violence. That is, in the analysis and study of violent behavior is important, necessary and essential to always presented as the essential component of the ideological background underlying such action.

Slavov S [9], makes the claim that human violence is born of language itself, man is the only one capable of exerting violence. According to a definition of violence as any act of volition by which man expands its natural limits, wanting more and more. Zizek understands that the supreme evil corresponds to the beginning of eternity. That is, that the will (desire) to live forever is the first act of violence which language is complicit. For this reason, it argues that language arises from the lack and the tendency not to die, but that should not be violent. In other words, although it seems certain that the man refuses to die, this principle is not the cause of violence initself, but life in its natural state tends or refuses to die.

Finally, on the other hand, to critically examine the various forms of violence in modern societies in the process of globalization, it is possible to argue that the universal presence of violence is a major consequence of the capitalist system that dominates today the fabric of international relations covering the whole world; a world governing or a systemic economic forces that are imposed impossible to escape. This would among other reasons why maintaining the established social order [18].

In the same perspective, Porras Velasquez N [19-27], shows how violence historically and from a pluralist perspective has an impact on political socialization imposed as evidence of the social reality we live. This aspect will be taken up later when we talk about school violence. However, we must not forget that the violent behavior of humans have a sense, most of the times hidden and that sense does not reveal brain biology, genes or much less circumstantial events associated with the outbreak of violence [27-29].

For this reason, sigmund freud (1930-1988) [30], in civilization and its discontents, states that

The human being is not a tame, friendly being, at best able to defend itself if attacked, but it is permissible to attribute to its endowment pulsional a good deal of aggression. Consequently, the neighbor is not only a possible assistant and sexual object but a temptation to meet him aggression, exploit their workforce without compensate him, use sexually without his consent, dispossess of their heritage, humiliate him, inflict pain, I martirizarlo and murder him [31].

On the other hand, Sanmartin J [32] raises the question: is there just violence? The answer is routed from the perspective of human rights, in terms of taking violence as a violation of such rights. It also recognizes that it is important to define violence rigor in this regard, said that violence. “Any act or intentional omission that harms or can harm an individual and that restricts or disturbs life in freedom. Accordingly, it is necessary to analyze at least three basic aspects to have a comprehensive understanding of this matter. First, recognize that acts of violence are varied. Secondly, it is important to classify from the actors, stages, etc., to establish mechanisms that generate it, and thirdly.

School Violence

It is clear that school violence emerges in a social, economic and political context that can not stand apart from its effects on everyday practices and discourses that traverse the world of school. In this regard, one of these violence which has recently been made visible as such to the world of the social sciences has been the school violence. While it is true that much has been written about the determinants and features that have this kind of violent relationships and what its main actors. However, it is common to associate each of these forms of social violence to a particular subject mainly marginal and poor-that would be the main actor in this.

However, psychosocial understanding of school violence does not escape these social imaginary. Thus, this violence of social “elite” is hidden or invisible in the shadow of the marginal violence. However, some researchers reject this supposed gap would between the two economic poles, and argue that this difference is much more attenuated than some researchers might believe.

In our case, if the material reality violence does not arise as a problem, then the question about the meaning of school violence in different contexts, more so arises. In other words, this research is an attempt to try to make emerge from the discourse of the actors themselves, symbolic relationships, contexts, motives and meanings that acquires violent being in an urban school world and apparently satisfied. Evidence shows that many of these are natural-ized violence in everyday environments school, where also is involved in the high degree of subjectivity with which a violent act is interpreted.

For the analysis of violent behavior they have been proposed the following factors: a) factors associated with biological, b) factors related to psychological aspects, and c) factors related to the structural conditions and the immediate social context. All these three factors allows us to propose that the violent context as part of school culture and everyday life directives, teachers and young people, which comes to pass unnoticed and is not recognized as violent acts [33].


First, violence is a dynamic and complex phenomenon that is present everywhere and we can not explain or accept it as part of our process of socialization. We do not want to recognize and less accept violence as a media spectacle of mass communication make us see a monstrous and horrible violence (violence by a clearly identifiable agent), but this face so obvious, is generated by a hidden violence the same holding our political and economic system, perhaps not so obvious, to understand the irrational manifestations of violence perfectly located in a particular subject.

Second, we assume that school violence is a kind of human interaction that is manifested in those behaviors or situations that deliberately cause, or threaten to do so, an hurtor severe submission (physical, sexual or psychological) to an individual or a community; or affect them in such a way that limit their potential present or future. That It is a complex concept that allows different interpretations and approaches depending on your point of view, and that its application to the school reality depends in most cases on subjective rather than neutral descriptions and empirically valid for all socio-historical contexts appreciations.

Third, if we are as psychologists and researchers of human behavior find the basisof school violence. It is necessary to fix the analytical and critical look beyond the person performing the action beyond the victim and, above all, focus on the socio-historical context that shapes the speeches from the ideologies that influence social practices and interactions of subjects that share.



Conflict of Interest

No conflict of interest.


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