Purpose – Peaceful societies, groups of people described by social scientists as experiencing little if any internal or external violence, embrace the need for peacefulness, in contrast to most of the contemporary world, which accepts violence as normal and inevitable. The purpose of this article is to examine the ways that people in those societies view peacefulness, and to compare those ways with more “normal” violent societies. Design/methodology/approach – The approach taken is a literature review of salient trends about anti‐violence among some of the more highly peaceful societies, and comparable trends in two state‐level societies—Norway, a relatively peaceful state, and the USA, a relatively more violent one. Findings – The findings show that some of the peaceful societies avoid violence through nonresistance—not resisting aggression. In addition, many base their commitments to peacefulness on religious and mythological beliefs, though for others, peacefulness is based on cultural values or is seen as a practical, reasonable way to order their lives. The societies that appear to have very firm commitments to nonviolence are the ones where structures of peacefulness thrive. Originality/value – The practical value of this research is that it points out how the peaceful societies can be contrasted with modern nation states, and it may suggest ways to challenge general patterns of violence.
Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 12, 2013
Keywords: Peaceful societies; Non‐resistance; Peacefulness; Non‐violence; Violence control; Non‐killing; Peace; Violence