Download rwanda-model-answers-proper

yes no Was this document useful for you?
   Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the workof artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Document related concepts

False consensus effect wikipedia , lookup

Self-categorization theory wikipedia , lookup

Communication in small groups wikipedia , lookup

Social perception wikipedia , lookup

Social dilemma wikipedia , lookup

Social tuning wikipedia , lookup

In-group favoritism wikipedia , lookup

Group dynamics wikipedia , lookup

One key issue which can be explained by concepts
from the social approach
The Rwandan Genocide
In 1994, 800,000 minority Tutsi and moderate Hutus were murdered by the majority
Hutus. Most were killed face to face using weapons such as machetes. Victims included
children and babies and thousands of women were ganged raped during the violence.
This particular killing spree, which was eventually classified as genocide, followed a three
year civil war and was initiated by the death of Hutu president, Habyarimana, whose
plane was shot down. Within hours a campaign of violence spread from the capital city,
Kigali, throughout the land. Those responsible for the assassination are still unknown,
although the Tutsi, Rwanda Patriotic Front were widely publicised as being responsible.
Encouraged by the presidential guard and dehumanizing radio propaganda, an unofficial
militia group called the Interahamwe (meaning those who attack together) was mobilized.
Swiftly, many normal citizens joined the mayhem as Hutu townsfolk were ordered to kill
their Tutsi neighbours.
The genocide ended when the RPF (Tutsis) managed to regain control of the country. 2
million Hutus fled to neighboring countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo
leading to a refugee crisis. A new multi-ethnic government was formed under Hutu
president Pasteur Bizimungu, although the majority of cabinet posts were assigned to RPF
members; a cease fire was called and refugees guaranteed safe return to Rwanda. This did
not prove so straight forward and there have been two wars in the Congo fueled by Hutus
trying to regain control of Rwanda.
The 1994 genocide poses many questions for social psychologists such as how could friends
and neighbours turn against each other and kill each other in this horrific manner; why did
so few people speak out against what was happening; are the Hutu people somehow
different to us and could a similar occurrence ever occur in Britain?
Explain one key issue using concepts, theories and studies from the social
One key issue: The Rwandan Genocide.
Tajfel and Turner would not be altogether surprised by the prejudice exhibited by
the Hutus since social identity theory suggests that when people are categorised
in terms of group membership, prejudice between in and out-group members is
An overt example of social categorisation which increased ethnic tension in
Rwanda was the introduction of identity cards (Hutu or Tutsi) by the Belgian
colonists in 1933. Tajfel explains that once people have been classified as ‘in’ or
‘out-group’ members the process of social identification increases the likelihood
of out-group hostility. Once the Tutsis were labelled as superior, the likely
outcome would be for them to start behaving in a different and superior manner
towards the Hutus, just as the children did in Jane Elliott’s blue eyes /brown
eyes study, when she gave them the collars to wear in order to identify
themselves. When people start to behave in accordance with a label, psychologists
call it a self fulfilling prophecy.
During the civil war years from 1990-1993, the Hutu government published
propaganda including the ‘10 Hutu commandments’. This created an ideology or
belief system which Hutus identified with and internalised fuelling the stereotype
of Tutsis as ‘cockroaches, cannibals and child killers’, responsible for all the
problems in Rwanda and emphasising the Tutsi ancestors’ ‘crimes’ against the
Hutus. This type of language triggered the affective component of the Hutus
prejudice: anger, disgust and fear and doubtless enhanced in-group solidarity as a
cohesive social group is better equipped to fight a common threat. In fact,
differences in the cultures of Hutus and Tutsis are minimal (they speak same
language and have similar customs and traditions) however Zimbardo explains that
dictators can easily exploit minimal differences by superimposing values of
superiority and inferiority, dominance and powerlessness and calls this the first
step to tyranny. The dehumanising language also made the Tutsis easier to kill as
the labels helped dissociate the Hutus further from the Tutsis, as differences were
made more obvious than similarities.
Rwanda is one of Africa’s poorest and most over populated countries and during
the early nineties the country faced food shortages due to further economic
decline caused by poor weather and falling coffee prices. Realistic Conflict
Theory explains why these factors led to increased prejudice. Sherif believed that
competition for limited resources caused frustration which could turn into
aggression. This is supported by the study by Hovland and Sears which
demonstrated that the number of lynchings of Negroes, between 1888 and 1930,
was negatively correlated with economic growth.
When you look at the history of Rwanda, one can see that realistic conflict is
undoubtedly an active ingredient in the racial hatred since the Tutsi cattle
breeders came into Rwanda and took land from the Hutu inhabitants. They quickly
formed a feudal hierarchy whereby Hutus had to enter into contracts with Tutsis
nobles and gentry in order to secure land to farm. The country was then run by the
Tutsi monarchy and the Hutus were second class citizens who found it harder to
access good jobs or education. This would have caused frustration and aggression.
Another factor which may have contributed to the way in which the campaign of
violence spread is social contagion which explains how when an individual’s
behaviour is observed in a social situation it is imitated by members of the group
and quickly becomes more and more common.
It is likely that the economic and political unrest contributed to a sense of
ambiguity and uncertainly meaning that people looked to each other more as a
guide for their own social behaviour. This might mean that if the social norm
appeared to be that physical assault and even murder were accepted options then
others may have followed suit and even if they did not participate may have stood
back and done nothing. If the latter happened then others may also do nothing and
this is known as pluralistic ignorance explaining why few people stood up against
the atrocities that were beginning to be revealed.
Interahamwe official, Cyasa Habimani was been sentenced to death like many
other Hutu war criminals and Tutsi survivors call him “a monster, devoid of pity”
but situationalists would say this is a typical example of the fundamental
attribution error, whereby we assume that behaviour is caused by internal factors
which are related to a person’s unchanging disposition. The laws of situationalism
suggests that there are no differences at a dispositional level between any of the
people who become involved in such human rights atrocities such as the Rwandan
genocide and a random sample of members of the public anywhere in the world.
Certainly, Milgram’s (1963) study demonstrates the power of the social situation
which is able to override personal moral codes in as many as two/thirds of the
population. In this study, the level of obedience decreased significantly when
punishment was to be administered face to face unlike in Rwanda, however, in the
study there was no active threat to the teacher for non-compliance and no preexisting cultural context, such as the centuries of racial animosity in Rwanda.
Milgram’s agency theory is helpful in explaining the behaviour of individuals such
as Habimani however, who claimed to be “a tool of more powerful men”. He
explains that when individuals identify a person as having legitimate authority
they make an agentic shift, absolving themselves of personal responsibility and
carrying out orders unquestioningly. Cyasa Habimani did just this when he claimed
he was just obeying orders from an army colonel, who rewarded him with new
tyres. Incentives were common bribes which encouraged compliance with orders
and some Hutus were even told they could appropriate the land of the Tutsis they
killed. French and Raven’s social power theory terms this reward power.
In conclusion, it would appear that the theories of social identity, realistic conflict
and agency are all helpful in explaining events in Rwanda and demonstrate how
when a society is made up of two or more distinct social groups with a history of
rivalry, triggers such as economic decline and uncertainty can have explosive
consequences which lead people to commit hideous crimes against which in a
different social situation, they might have thought impossible. The lesson which
can be learnt from this, is that at any level, society must do everything possible to
make individuals aware of the power of group membership but also of personal
autonomy and whilst celebrating cultural differences may be important to
fostering group esteem for minority groups it may also be important to create
opportunities whereby similarities between groups are emphasised and meaningful
groups are established across group divides, blurring boundaries and demonstrating
how it is possible to be a member of more than one group at a time.