Four Types of Violence:

Personal or Institutional Role of Actor/Overt or Covert Effect of Action

Based on Newton Garver, "What Violence Is," The Nation 209 (June 24, 1968), 817-822

Moral Responsibility in                               Moral Ambiguity of
Individual Action                                           Institutional Roles

Conscious Hurt/Offense                     Structural Harm/Oppression
Overt Personal Violence

Clear: mugging, rape, and murder

Debated: defend law, benefit person

--reasonable restraint

vs police brutality

--corporal punishment

vs child abuse

Overt Institutional Violence

Clear: civil war, international war

Debated: capital punishment, riots

--legitimate execution

vs state murder

--organized strike

vs spontaneous outburst


Covert Personal Violence

Clear: verbal & psychological abuse

Debated: threats

--may avoid overt personal


--individual responsible, if done


Covert Institutional Violence

Clear: slavery, colonialism, ghettos

Debated: deterrence

--may avoid overt institutional


--state responsible, if done