Structural Violence and Relative Deprivation: Precursors to Collective Political Violence in Sierra Leone

Authored by:
Earl Conteh-Morgan
Published on 2/1/2018
Digital Only

In this occasional paper, Dr. Conteh-Morgan examines how the combination of structural violence and relative deprivation are associated with, and were predictors of, civil strife in Sierra Leone between 1991 and 2002. He focuses his analysis on one key question: In what ways did structural violence deepen insecurities and intensify relative deprivation in Sierra Leone and contribute to civil war? The author provides an in-depth explanation of the concept of structural violence and how it underscores the realities of human misery associated with inequality and disability. He then describes how the negative effects of structural violence of state institutions in many developing countries can lead to feelings of relative deprivation in individuals and groups in society. Dr. Conteh-Morgan then argues that Sierra Leone was plagued by structural violence and it was this condition that then contributed to a sense of relative deprivation among the population which in turn sparked the civil war that lasted from 1991 to 2002. This study provides the SOF practitioner with an in-depth analysis of how internal and external structural problems intensified political grievances, increased deprivations and widespread misery, and eventually led to the implosion of Sierra Leone into full scale civil war.