On Structural Violence

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The Impact of Structural Violence on Hunger and Poverty

The open warfare and how it has been a barrier for people all over the world are the difficulties that are most discussed in the contemporary world in which we live. Although there are other difficulties that affect people everywhere, hunger and poverty continue to rank among the most urgent ones. The idea of structural violence comes into play here. By essentially limiting, prohibiting, and failing to provide people's basic needs, social structures can damage people in organized ways that are known as structural violence.

The Effects of Structural Violence on Poverty

Structural violence at most times impact individuals who live in poverty is those who the society see as not being of high social standing. Factors that determine this status can include sex, sexual orientation race, age or any other situation that makes the individual different from what the society take to be normal. Structural violence is not specific to a minority or a majority group, but it can just manifest itself anywhere. This paper will look at the deeper meaning of structural violence by looking at various examples and also see how it's important in understanding connections between health, race, and gender.

The Nature of Structural Violence

Structural violence is at times confused with direct violence, and they are certainly not the same as direct violence involves flashy and brutal actions. At most times, structural violence happens very quietly and can take place in the most ordinary place that one can think of. It is sometimes considered invisible. Regardless of the slow and cool nature of structural violence, it can at times bring a lot of pain and suffering more than direct violence does and usually it harder to stop the structural violence. The majority of people who suffer this kind of violence are the low-income earners or individual who live in poverty although it can happen to anyone. Also, this type of violence happens nearly in every country it's just that people don't realize or those who do just assume it. The most common examples of structural violence are ageism, adultism, classism, racism, speciesism, nationalism, sexism, elitism and ethnocentrism (Hosken, 2016). Structural violence is much avoidable, but unfortunately, it happens and causes unnecessary disabilities and premature deaths.

Understanding Structural Violence through Research

Several researchers have studied and researched the topic of structural violence. Paul Farmer, a medical anthropologist, illustrated that structural violence mostly affects the individuals in the world who are socioeconomically poor (Farmer et al.., 2004). He continues to say that the way the modern society is organized make it have a division between the affluent and the impoverished individuals, and in the process, the largest population of the world is denied access to expensive but basic medical care. Specifically, the farmer gives an example of how a disease like tuberculosis is currently given attention and termed as reemerging because of the renewed outbreaks in North America and Europe whereas in places like South Asia, Africa, and Haiti millions have been the victims of this disease that can be treated using the correct therapy. In these places, people are usually poor, and many assume them and Farmer terms this as "the invisibility of the poor" who are unable to afford the expensive medical treatments they urgently need and this is a perfect example of structural violence. Farmer explains that structural violence is not caused by a person's actions or his ore will but rather; it's structured by a person's social status. The inadequate access to important medical care, the silent suffering that poor people go through, the unnecessary deaths and the hunger is all as a result of structural violence that can be solved according to Paul Farmer.

The Role of Structural Racism in Health Inequities

Structural violence as said above can be of many forms and among them is structural racism. Although there has been growing interest to understand the various social factors that bring about poor health services, much professional involved find out a solution to this problem often ignore the racial health inequities while in truth there is major contributor to poor health outcomes (Bailey et al.., 2017). Ethnic inequalities and social racism are well documented in the world, but there have been many controversies surrounding these types of inequities. Structural racism is how the society nurtures racial discrimination by jointly reinforcing systems of employment, benefits, housing, credit, education, healthcare, media, and earnings. These practices and patterns will then strengthen the discriminatory values, beliefs, and after that the overall distribution of resources. Most of the studies currently only focus on the ethnic discrimination rather than considering the health effects that come as a result of structural racism. According to (Bailey et al.., 2017), it is important to focus on structural racism as it will bring about feasible, promising and concrete approach towards having a more equitable health and in the process improving the health of the entire population.


In conclusion, structural violence is the organized ways in which social structure harm people by basically limiting, barring and not providing individuals with basic needs. These social structures are usually said to be structural since they are always fixed in the economic and political organization of the social domain that we live in. Structural violence is violent because ultimately it causes unnecessary injury or death to people. Individual or cultures are not usually at fault but factors such economic status are the main cause. Structural violence is connected to health and race and gender since a factor like race can determine one access to health, this is called structural racism.


Bailey, Z. D., Krieger, N., Agénor, M., Graves, J., Linos, N., & Bassett, M. T. (2017). Structural racism and health inequities in the USA: evidence and interventions. The Lancet, 389(10077), 1453-1463.

Farmer, P., Bourgois, P., ScheperHughes, N., Fassin, D., Green, L., Heggenhougen, H. K., ... & Farmer, P. (2004). An anthropology of structural violence. Current anthropology, 45(3), 305-325.

Hosken, N. (2016). Social work, class and the structural violence of poverty. Doing Critical Social Work: Transformative practices for social justice, Allen and Unwin, Crows Nest.

April 06, 2023

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