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Gurr, Why Men Rebel

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  • Ted Robert Gurr--the University of Maryland faculty since 1989
  • Couple of Chapters from the book – looks at concept of Relative Deprivation. Shows how a person’s expectations and capabilities measure their respective RD…and this RD measured gives indication of man’s likelihood of using force to achieve something. Variables within the mix are time, alternatives, levels of frustration, ability to close the gap…RD provides the field for tension and conflict needed by the terrorist to gain foothold in the mind of the people.
  • Gurr- believes that the root of the problem in rebellion is ‘relative deprivation’—“the tension that develops from a discrepancy between the ‘ought’ and ‘is’ of collective value dissatisfaction.” (23) In plain English, he means that people get pissed off about thinking about the difference between what it is they have (value capability) and what they ought to have (value expectation). Value expectation – value capability = value dissatisfaction.
  • “In summary, the primary source of the human capacity for violence appears to be the frustration-aggression mechanism. Frustration does not necessarily lead to violence, and violence for some men is motivated by expectations of gain. The anger induced by frustration, however, is a motivating force that disposes men to aggression, irrespective of its instrumentalities. If frustrations are sufficiently prolonged or sharply felt, aggression is quite likely, if not certain, to occur. To conclude that the relationship is not relevant to individual or collective violence is akin to the assertion that the law of gravitation is irrelevant to the theory of flight because not everything that goes up falls back to the earth in accord with the basic gravitational principle. The frustration-aggression mechanism is in this sense analogous to the law of gravity: men who are frustrated have an innate disposition to do violence to its source in proportion to the intensity of their frustration, just as objects are attracted to one another in direct proportion to their relative masses and inverse proportion to their distance.” (36-37)
  • Detrimental Deprivation: value expectation remains same as capabilities drop
  • Progressive Deprivation: value expectations grow at same rate as value capabilities, then value capabilities begin to drop…promise unfulfilled.
  • Aspirational Deprivation: increase in expected values while value capabilities remain the same.Frustration increases: as one comes closer to completion, and slows.

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