Identifying and surpassing ordinary violence

Bernard BALCET

AFSCET, 52 rue des Aulnes 92330 SCEAUX, France, e-mail :


In this communication, we'll try to consider ordinary violence through the double point of view of general society problems and in-company issues.

Ordinary violence often results from a lack of attention paid to various situations involving handicaps or management problems.

We intend to develop violence surpassing solutions by promoting in-house actions, including difference valorization and mental representations integration.

Keywords : mental representations, systemical, ordinary violence, handicap, singularity, change, movement, precariousness, to listen in, strangeness of other, surpassing


1. Why this theme ?

From experiences which are collected at the occasion of our Afscet group's meetings, it seems interesting to look into the ordinary violence phenomenon due to in-society and in-company issues. Actually, except violences which it's talken about in medias, there is little visibles violences, difficult to detect or to anticipate.

We begin to present, in the two first parts of document, some observations which are made in the society and in the companies, whithout resuming specialist's reflections and whithout trying to improve emergentes notions. This kind of pointing work belongs to the main process of thinking which appeals later, if necessary, for conceptuals contributions. Then, a third part makes a link between the two contexts (society and company) with their respectives tracks of solutions in the purpose to lead up to the notion of freedom zone for action and research.

In conclusion, we insist on necessity to implement a management engineering for enclosing former processes in mastery of work. The health networks example is resumed at this occasion, particularly when one see how dynamics for surpassing handicap situations are joining engineering methods. Pluridisciplinars and systemicals aspects are present and allow to triumph over impasses and breaks which occupy the today management field.

Let us note that in the ordinary violence, one don't takes into account violences due to serious illnesses nor the clash situations which belong to the companies normal life.


2. Ordinary violence in society

Our group has collected evidences from a blind woman and from an animator of a deaf persons association. This real-life experience units have been enhanced and valued by a formerly homeless computer scientist. This man spoke about his way and proved to be considering distress situations in a proper perspective. Besides, the same group was interested in an internet insertion into jails problematics. In this last case, no direct testimony was collected.

Thus, through these meetings, the concept of handicap becomes more precise and leads to a specific feeling of violence of which non handicapped people have no idea. Precariousness too is a kind of permanent violence because no plan can be worked out for the future, while jail is tightly linked to violence. More generally, the lack of listen in under different ways is probably the worst and the most common kind of violence.

People who have been involved in knowledge and distress's relief often got paradoxical lessons which benefited both themselves and the concerned persons.

2.1. To listen in

To listen in consists here in watching the way the handicapped person perceives things. For the blind woman, informations don't come the same way as for well sighted people. She has to scan all informations when she enters a room : it's sequential. More often than not, she will feel guilty and the world around her will seem violent. On the other hand, her other senses give her another type of perception : she can say how many people are in a room, when sighted people can't. They may even need to be introduced by differents means when they enter a new place.

Deaf people can learn to communicate through the language of signs but they are inclined to keep together for avoiding exclusion feeling. Are they wishing to keep their specificity ? Generally, they feel uncomfortable about communication. Notice that deaf people don't take information, they're given it. Is that not a violence situation ? Are the deaf our barbarians ? Should'nt we learn their language as we do with a stranger ?

2.2. Precariousness

It is an economical and affective destructuration. The problem is not only a lack of money but a desaffiliation. While "to listen in" faces to situations of handicap, you have, for precarious states, to manage a break because the most important problem is the unpredictibility. The homeless man feels himself so thoroughly excluded that he can't make whatever plan, nor even simply live. Moreover he suffers from exposure to others look, from the gap between what the family says and what his life is really.

This ordinary violence is enforced because we refuse to consider a situation which makes us uncomfortable in interpersonal relation. Nevertheless, changing relation depends on changing look on relation. But in today's society, work is fragmentary and needs versatile and open-minded profiles. Is normal life precarious ?

2.3. Jail

To confine is a mean to punish the author of violence. The project of installing internet in jails provoked a discussion about the prisoner case. Studies on punishment history shows that concrete problems related by recent articles or books are, eventually, the easiest to solve. On the other hand, debates about rehabilitation, violence eradication and fundamentally, links between jail and society stay open. The prisoner's vision of the world gives him an important passivity with in short elementary needs : to have human contacts, to enjoy a piece of power, to have a receptive brain.


2.4. Surpassing

In their way, both homeless people and prisoners are handicapped. Beyond slogans and classical propositions like "to get better, you should take care of the deprived people" it is useful to think about solutions like identifying informations that will help change the handicapped, recognizing him outside the show-information, refinding social connections. Is'nt it time to think about assymetrical exchanges, to understand why thinks are done, to think about cooperation algorithms, about concepts of filiation-desaffiliation?.

Ideas for action and refection are numerous but they must go further in the following direction : to listen in, you have to change yourself, to see, you have to know how to deconstruct yourself. It's a good thing also to know how to understand what the other is doing, how to accept difference, how open yourself to others. By the way, don't we need to create a special job for listen in, for root problems care.

In fact, the real change is to jump from handicap to the stage of investment in the difference and to take advantage of another sight to proceed, to learn how to communicate with one's body, to ask questions about one's life and not only about the life of handicapped. All tracks are good to follow but it's necessary to go further with systemicals approaches which incite to overstep the problems.

A recent article was showing the collective change of a village where everybody learnt the language of signs to communicate with a deaf child. This expression of solidarity changed to a positive dynamic not only for the child but also for each inhabitant of the villageful.

This is a true surpassing phenomenon wich results from a personal and collective commitment process. Such a practice may confer new rooms for manoeuvre but finds its limits in cases of heavy handicaps or serious illnesses when one has difficulties to came out of physical and moral suffering.





3. Ordinary violence in company

3.1. Company change or movement

Some think that movement is more interesting to watch than change because it refers to an identifiable A departure point to a B arrival point whose emergence is difficult to describe. A transformation flow is easier to describe with many causes in structures : merges; scissions, change in tools, skills evolution. The permanence of transformation leads to think change as a common and chronic situation. Then, what are the transformations flows to be described ?

Il is well known that to organize aims to match something. An organization may be naturally violent even though it is protective. An organization change is taken as an attack because the human dimension may be forgotten. Isn't the departure point often to say : "let us see how to eliminate the resistance to change ?"

3.2. Ordinary violence

Of course, the human being is feared because he represents a latent violence. It doesn't matter about open violences in attacks or urban tensions but a menace against a space of freedom which everybody needs to "begin to be". Then, not only change is felt like an agression but also the use of command.

Whithout deniing the ambiguity of feeling, disregarding the thesis of evil banalisation and moral harassment, we can settle that, unwillingly, executives drive their colleagues into difficult situations. Isnít there "soft barbary" [ LE GOFF] when someone is enjoined to be autonomous and to cope with difficult work conditions or to face decentralisation of contradictory goals.

Accepting ordinary violence is necessary because its everyday aspect prevents you from noticing it and foreseeing it spontaneously. The word violence isn't even used openly because consequences seem personal and the reasons aren't scarcely identified. It can also rise from an ordinary knowledge due to a lack of organisational learning.

3.3. Strangeness of the other

The meeting point of society/company under ordinary violence aspect may partly lead to the discovery of "strangeness of the other" [ MADELIN] for which the most common reactions are different diversion actions. Then, meeting the other, which seems a banal situation, causes a regression followed by a learning stage where the parts in presence can tame eachother. We are in the hart of ordinary violence because the situation may evoluate of differents ways from clash to indifference.



4. Strategics points for a ripost

Ordinary violence makes influence to change view upon handicap situations and to invest in the difference and singularity. In firms, after recognizing ordinary violence and choising its origine in confrontation to other, it's necessary to see what kind of ripost is conceivable. The following propositions don't meet always immediate adhesion despite pertinence and efficiency. Nevertheless, researchs are numerous around behaviours and explanations are clarifiing for risk management, connectionnism, autonomy, rôle of culture, etc

4.1. Mediator field

Violence is multiform and can only be answered through talks with the "in-house" base. The "in-house" base, is the field where resistance stands, where things donít happen always as they were suposed to, where people talk about their jobs and dysfonctions. Speaking about oneís job allows to be aware of what the reality of the world is, and how to act upon it. This exercise is generally appreciated and lightens the violence sensation whithout moreover making disappeare other felt or incorporated violences.

Sticking to the situation of meeting the other, for example to "act together", it's good then to adopt an involving working method starting from an in-house base. Itís purpose should also be global in order to have a chance to share of representations. It is relatively easy to speek about an in-house base and about hanging around partners. Progressively, people find themselves in this relation and work together thanks to a share of representations. "Exchange of repertories" [ MOLES] can be developped with a certain complicity between pluridisciplinars offers and requests.

4.2. Passing from local to global

As soon as participative method is in question, one thinks of proximity and surely of the difficulty to pass from local to global (the contrary is not easier too). In case of professionnal or private networks, this problem is accurate due to the virtual aspect of activities. Fortunately, the action provides a filter which boosts the représentations and qualifies the solutions.

Moreover, the method being a bottom up method, the way from local to global is natural as the discussion levels meet the partnersí levels. The advantages are : no time lost, fast entrance in the subject, possible return. To transpose the method, the way from local to global gives an advantage compared to intellectually founded solutions, which is to succeed in the implementation and in the promotion of the surpassing notion.

4.3. Freedom zone

The world gives too much room to those who think in the place of others. Whithout forbidding to frame the processes, it may sometimes be clever to leave people cope with problems, to fullfil their talents quite freely and to avoid trying to influence them (loose grip). But it would be a pity by no taking advantage of running experience.

The ordinary violence is an experimental ground to be studied and overstepped. The ways of research are numerous among the works of MCX or Afscet members and beyond. This approaches may help creating the conditions for this freedom and to generate representations. According to circumstances, they accompany a generic method mentioned before.


5. Need of a management engineering

The ideas developed before may seem to be wellknown and sometimes incomplete, but actually itís engineering that is missing : not an engineering that would only make recommendations and give goals, but an engineering that would operate and take care of real problems, thus enabling the actors to appropriate the new configuration. Mastering of work takes place in these methods for they guarantee the financials goals and triumph of impasses and clashes whithin using possible breaks in numeric technologies or in ways of thinking.

Meeting of the other, when handicapped, is also a discovery of the difference and singularity. Mentals representations are talked as obstacles but they can become helps. At this moment, a kind of overstepping and surpassing happens through the protagonists's tranformation.

Thus, accoasting situations trough the ordinary violence, one provokes some links between the contexts to help finding reals solutions. Health networks engineering is a good sample of such implementations. In this case, the perception of dynamics is particularly essential, so are systemical reflexes use. To build on differences may boost things in a company. On the contrary, the search of mediator fields would be useful through projects in society problems. The common point is the need of animation.

General diagramm


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Editing October 04, 2002.