Creating an image of victim as a way of creating controlled conflict situation

There are different forms of victim construction for create of managed conflict situation since the earliest times. Today the topicality of this problem related with the era of informatization. But in theoretical and methodological terms this problem has not been studied sufficiently in a sociological context. I defended a dissertation ««Victim» as a phenomenon of social and political conflict» in 2008. And this dissertation formed the basis of elaboration methodical basis for study this problem. I have published a number of science works. Currently, I teach a special course for students.

And today I would like to discuss with my colleagues same of my ideas about the different forms of victim construction for create of managed conflict.

The theoretic and methodological base of this study is:

  • Social Action Theory
  • Structural Functionalism (R. Merton)
  • Social Constructionism (P. Berger T. Luchmann)
  • Structural Constructivism (P. Bourdieu)
  • Transactional Analysis (E. Berne)

For the test of my theory I analyzed the real social and political conflicts both Russia and in the world in 1998-2008.

On the base of analyze I constructed the structure of social and political conflict and the place of victim in this structure.

As we see, comprising each of the conflicting parties can take place real victim and / or its constructed image. Between the conflicting parties can take place neutral or "clean" victim, it means that the victim does not belong to any of the conflicting parties.

So, the victim of the conflict - is affected by the actions of the opposing party of conflict are people who are not directly involved in the conflict and recognized as victims of "significant others."

Very important or same times key role in the construction of the "victim" belongs to the "indirect side" of the conflict which can pursuing its own interests, may be the main initiator of this conflict but is not formally taking part in it.

Possessing the necessary economic, political and other resources, indirect party can:

  • The preparing and the provoking a required conflict for an «indirect party» in the right place at the right time;
  • The providing support to «one’s» conflict party and creating a «victim» from it;
  • The creating barriers for opposite conflict party and creating an «enemy» from it;
  • To exert pressure on a third party for making advantageous decision for yourself;
  • An «indirect party» can take part in the conflict in special cases. The special case - it means when indirect party influence on the conflict but does not bring the intended effect.

Beginning of creating the "victim" may precede the beginning of conflict situation. The main reason for the creating of the "victim" is the desire of the subject constructs a certain image of the victim, to create a favorable situation of conflict for yourself to achieve goals.

Creating image of the victim may be classified on the follow types: «victim-hero», «victim-loss», «victim as beloging», «victim-tragedy», «victim-country», «victim-nation», «multifunction victim» and other.

Construction an image of «victim» has to meet such characteristics as guiltlessness and defenselessness. Therefore on the role of «victim» appoints guiltlessness children, old people, and women. Violence on them provokes the tension of passions and promotes forming of specified public opinion.

The process of creating a “victim” involves a whole series of steps. Consider the example of the process creating the image of "victim-hero".

  1. Actualization of «victim» - is a process of involving a maximum possible public attention to the real or no real victims.
  2. Privatization of «victim» - thier role to show and prove that "irreparable" loss in the face of the victim, suffered particular party of the conflict.
  3. Heroization of victim - whatever the qualities of the victim did not have in reality this victim, in the process of geroization, as a rule, this victim characterized as a positive hero, who in everyday life showed outstanding ability, demonstrated courage, integrity, honesty and in extreme conditions behaved decently.
  4. Humanization of victim – is the process which gives to real or no real victim the certain qualities that emphasize her good relations to others, and defencelessness against enemy
  5. Institutionalization of victim includes the follow actions: commemorate the "victim", laying flowers at the memorial places, securing its image in the official symbols, attributes, normative documents, public consciousness.
  6. Historicization and mythologiszation of victim – is the process of giving the victim (her stories) some fictional properties and qualities, which it did not possess in real life or had it not fully.
  7. Objectivization – is the process by which the 'subjective' creating image gets its own reality, stability and repeatability in the minds and behavior of people.
  8. legitimization of victim – is the process which involves public acknowledgement of institutionalized image of victim and her legitimacy and appropriate honors. For example, the non-recognition of any state of the Holocaust is regarded by the international community as a desecration of the memory of all who died during the Second World War.
  9. Sacralization of victim – is the process of giving the "victim" of the symbolic, sacred meaning. Sacralization "victim" as it returns the historical memory of the society to the original meaning of the holy sacrifice, which is based not so much on the mind as on a belief in a sacred force sacrifice.
  10. Realization an image of «victim» in the social and political practices.

Generating an image of «victim» both in the real and in the potential conflicts presuppose execution the following functions:

  • identification of people on the bases of their attitude to the «victim»;
  • creation of enemy image which is gilted in the attempt on «victim»;
  • consolidation of people for fight with identified «enemy»;
  • upbringing of «new heroes»;
  • determination behavior of people in the critical situation;
  • image of «victim» is becoming by the culture elements.

Targeted charge of attempting to "victim" creates a situation in which the accused party gets obviously disadvantageous conditions. It has to make excuses, to prove innocence, while the charging party has the opportunity to increase their pressure, creating a real or imaginary of "aggressor" enemy image. Efficiency create of "victim" as a symbolic product, and its realization in the conflict interaction of parties, in a great measure depends on the balance of forces. Party that has a more powerful total capital (as Bourdieu) has more opportunities to make political product and impose it on others as legitimate categories of the social world.

Party does not have enough total capital, so that to protect theirs interests, as a rule, is doomed to failure. The main method of resistance against construction of false image is the timely and reliable information. In the condition of total information war it is becoming very difficult but necessary .

My concept of creation "victim" is a theoretical and methodological basis for the analysis and resolution of any conflicts in the international relations.


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