The Different Facets of Aggression and Violence

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CHAPTER TWO A FRAME FOR THE PAINTING: WORKPLACE VIOLENCE AND AGGRESSION

Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.
(G.K. Chesterton, 1874-1936)

Introduction

The metaphor of the painstaking creation of a work of art begins here, with the careful construction of a frame in which the painting will dwell. Although it may seem an unusual departure from the traditional method of framing a picture only after it has been painted, this frame is in itself an integral part of the whole, and, in this case, needs to be in place before the rest of the image can be contextualized. Few artists underestimate the power of the frame – a mediocre painting can be elevated to the state of greatness with the addition of the correct frame; likewise a cheap frame will degrade the whole tone of a masterpiece. The frame in this metaphor is the broader scope of workplace aggression and violence.
Conflict is endemic in society and should not necessarily be seen as negative or destructive, but rather as stimulating and invigorating, serving useful social functions, provided it is channelled in constructive ways (Lewis & Zare, 1999). Functional conflict serves to promote change and create enterprise through enhancing performance, while dysfunctional conflict serves to hinder the achievement of social and organisational goals (Cohen, 1990). If conflict is handled in a negative or destructive manner, it ends in violence, which is the extreme manifestation of conflict, with some authors even going so far as to liken the workplace to a field of battle (Kondrasuk, Moore, & Wang, 2001).
Dysfunctional conflict in the workplace, which may involve the expression of aggression and violence, has always been present wherever people have worked together. Yet only in the 1960s and 1970s did social science researchers begin to pay attention to the issues being raised by unions and governmental bodies, (Bowie, 2002; Lewis & Zare, 1999; Painter, 1987). In the 1980s, interest was raised through the actions of Perry Smith, a 25-year veteran of the US Postal Service, who fired on co-workers with a shotgun wounding two and killing the postmaster (Van Fleet & Van Fleet, 2009). There was an increasingly large responsibility on the part of the organisation to take reasonable care for the safety of its employees as part of the contract of employment, which implied that if an employee were to be injured while at work, the victim would be able to claim damages for negligence from the employer (Hoad, 1993). Legal issues are now faced whenever workplace violence occurs inside the precincts of the organisation (Paetzold, O‟Leary-Kelly, & Griffin, 2009).
The expression of workplace aggression and violence, therefore, can result in enormous costs to the organisation (Leather et al., 1999; Maes, Icenogle, Shearer, & Fowler, 2000; Rogers & Kelloway, 1997). The direct expenses are associated with finding replacement staff, implementing counter-measures, and repairing damaged equipment; the social, and more indirect expenditure, is related to compensation payments, prosecution costs, reduction in the quality of customer service, risk assessments, and a high staff turnover (Maes et al., 2000; Van Fleet & Van Fleet, 2009). There is also an accompanying reduction in organisational revenue, as customers might be reluctant to visit premises where there is a high incidence of violence (Hoad, 1993; O‟Leary-Kelly et al., 1996).
Additionally, less immediate costs to the individuals involved (beyond those costs associated with injury or death) are high. Violence is a phenomenon of the modern world that touches people in dramatic and disturbing ways: interrupting the operation of business; tarnishing the reputation and credibility of the organisation; decreasing morale; and increasing a sense of fear (Olson, 1994; Van Fleet & Van Fleet, 2009). Victims of aggression have a higher likelihood of stress-related conditions, ruined reputations, lower morale, lost work time and decreased productivity (Kirk & Franklin, 2003; Maes et al., 2000; O‟Leary- Kelly et al., 1996; Schat & Kelloway, 2005), or experience the desire to leave the organisation as a means of coping with the increased fear of future violence (Rogers & Kelloway, 1997). Employees‟ emotional and cognitive resources are depleted through exposure to stress, and consequently they are less likely to focus on job performance (Herschcovis & Barling, 2010).
In summary, the individual can experience psychological consequences, which include depression, anxiety and negative work-related affect (where an individual fears the work environment leading to greater time off work), and physiological complaints such as headaches, sleep disturbances, infections, gastrointestinal problems and increased blood pressure (Schat & Kelloway, 2005). Withdrawal behaviours and reduced productivity are often the result (Van Fleet & Van Fleet, 2009).
The study of workplace aggression and violence is becoming a focus in Western industrialised societies. Traditionally, it is addressed by the media and officials in an inflammatory way, with little attention to accurate quantification of incidence, and many researchers note that there is no attempt to place the risk in context (Chappell & Di Martino, 2000; Kraus et al., 1995; Leather, Cox, & Farnsworth, 1990; Lewis & Zare, 1999; Mullen, 1997; Neuman & Baron, 1998; Rogers & Kelloway, 1997; Stuart, 1992). Problematically, studies of an empirical nature are lambasted for the widespread use of unrepresentative sampling, discrepancies in reporting time frames, variations in defining and operationalising workplace aggression, and overlooking forms of aggression and violence that are less visible, such as psychological aggression (Barling et al., 2009). Researchers call for greater construct validity, in order that constructs such as aggression, bullying, abusive supervision, and so on, are studied as separate entities. Additionally, inter-relationships of various forms of aggressive behaviour within and across domains need to be addressed (Barling et al., 2009).
Whilst this study is of a qualitative nature, it would be gravely remiss to ignore the plethora of quantitative research that has been conducted on the topic of workplace violence and its effects both in the international and South African contexts. These studies have been instrumental in establishing critical organisational guidelines for the protection of a vulnerable workforce, and reveal significant contributions made in the understanding of the nature of workplace violence. An unanticipated by-product of these studies, however, is the manner in which they have contributed to contemporary discourses of violence in society, determining what is seen as normal and what deviant. Foucault‟s (1980) recognition of knowledge as constituting specific power relations, whilst simultaneously being employed to maintain power relations, highlights the influence that these quantitative studies have on the construction of the dominant discourses that are prevalent in today‟s society. Consistent with this approach, the apparent constitution of the perpetrator as deficient in certain physical, intellectual or psychological parameters, and the location of the perpetrator within certain substrata of society leads to a linearly predictive and preventative approach to the study of workplace violence. Therefore, it is of critical importance to review such studies, as they provide the frame against which the analysis of discursive networks of the participants of this research will take place.

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Assembling the Raw Materials: A Definition of Constructs

Within the traditional positivistic studies, the careful definition of a construct is perceived as critical in the process of validation, because commonly used terms such as „aggression‟ and „violence‟ are seen to have different meanings for different individuals (O‟Leary-Kelly et al., 1996); these terms have been used interchangeably in the past. This section provides a brief overview of the constructs as they have been used by various authors in the past. The intelligence thus gained is applied to the specific context of the workplace and the resultant definitions of workplace aggression and violence.
The Nails that Hold the Frame Together: The Different Facets of Aggression and Violence Customarily, aggression has been characterised as injurious or destructive behaviour that is defined as aggressive within the social context (Bandura, 1973), or any act in which one individual intentionally attempts to harm another (Neuman & Baron, 1998). Aggression in this context is taken to be any behaviour where the aggressor delivers a noxious stimulus to another person with the objective of causing harm to that person. Similarly, violence is defined as an act carried out with the intention of causing corporeal distress in another person. Literature generally agrees that if the harm caused to a person is physical in nature, then the behaviour that caused it can be classified as violent (Bowie, 2002; Neuman & Baron, 1998).

Dichotomies of aggression and violence

Various authors have identified analogous concepts on the continuum of human aggression. Buss (1961) was one of the first to classify acts of human aggression in terms of three dichotomies: verbal-physical, direct-indirect, and active-passive. Verbal forms of aggression inflict damage through words rather than deeds, while physical forms intend some type of injury to the victim. Direct forms of aggression occur when harm is overtly delivered to the victim, while indirect forms involve impairment to the victims being conveyed through an intermediary, or through assault on persons or objects valued by the victim. Active aggression produces harm through the performance of some behaviour, while passive aggression delivers harm through the withholding of an action. Eight forms of aggression (see Table 2.1) can be based on this classification system (Buss, 1961).

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CHAPTER ONE  BEHIND THE METAPHOR: AN INTRODUCTION TO A WORK OF ART
Introduction
Significance of this Study
The Origin of the Metaphor Underlying this Study
Chapter Organisation
Conclusion
CHAPTER TWO  A FRAME FOR THE PAINTING: WORKPLACE VIOLENCE AND AGGRESSION
Introduction
Assembling the Raw Materials: A Definition of Constructs
The Nails that Hold the Frame Together: The Different Facets of Aggression and Violence
Dichotomies of aggression and violence
Table 2.1 Eight forms of aggression according to Buss (1961)
Integrating dimensions of aggression and violence
Bevelling the Edges: Distinguishing Between Workplace Aggression and Workplace Violence
The Emergence and Prevalence of Psychological Forms of Aggression.
The Style of the Frame: Types of Workplace Aggression and Violence
Type 1 – External or Intrusive Violence
Type 2 – Consumer or Patient Related Violence
Type 3 – Staff Relationship Violence
Type 4 – Organisational Violence
CHAPTER THREE  A SKETCH IN BLACK AND WHITE: THE SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE SERVICE
Introduction
A Sketch of the Organisational Culture in the Police Service
Pencilling in the Background
Drafting Some Finer Details of the Foreground
Paradoxes of function
Paradoxes of structure.
Paradoxes of legitimacy.
Consequences of Paradoxes
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Emotional Exhaustion and Burnout
Changing Personality Patterns
Suicide and Violence
CHAPTER FOUR  THE LENSES THROUGH WHICH WE OBSERVE THE SCENE THAT  NSPIRES THE PAINTING: THEORY AND EPISTEMOLOGY
Introduction
Man is Not a Molecule: The Move from Empiricism to Post-empiricism
Philosophical Critique
Modernism and Postmodernism
Can one ever be purely postmodern?
Focussing in on the Particulars: The Lenses of Social Constructionism Through Which I View the Topic of Work-plac
The Application of Social Constructionism to this Research Project
Premises of social constructionism
Conclusion
CHAPTER 5  THE MATERIAL OF THE CANVAS: RESEARCH DESIGN AND PROCEDURE
Introduction
A Qualitative Versus Quantitative Research Approach
Linguistic Results
Empathy as an Observation Strategy
Contextual Interpretation
Poly-dimensionality of Experience
Empowerment as a Research Goal
Tentativeness of the Interpretation
Researcher as Partner
The Researcher is Affected by the Research as Much as the Partners
Quality Control in Qualitative Research: Attention to Reliability and Validity Issues
CHAPTER SIX  THE UNDER-PAINTING OF THE CANVAS: INTRODUCING THE PARTICIPANTS
Introduction
A Word on the Selection of Participants’ Names
The Stories Begin
The Wounded Hero: The Tale of Insp Dark-Knight
The Trusty Friend: The Account of Insp Faithful
From the Mouths of Babes: The Story of Little Miss Maturity
The Great Physician: The Saga of the Psychiatrist, Dr Feel-Good
Conclusion
CHAPTER SEVEN  ADDING LAYERS OF PAINT: THE TONES OF THE ORGANISATION
Introduction
The Dangers of Painting in Mixed Media: Discourse Analysis and Ethnography
Socio-Historical Grounding for the Discourses
Police Mission and Sub-culture
Internal and External Agencies Opposed to Change
Composition
Accountability
Conclusion
CHAPTER EIGHT  ADDING LAYERS OF PAINT: THE SHADOWS OF VIOLENCE
Introduction
Emerging Discourses and Perspectives
Violence Towards Others and the Self
“The hunter becomes the haunted”: Violence towards others and the self
“Just another day’s work”: Professional justifications of violence
“I need a hero”: Heroism and retribution
“The age of innocence”: Delusions of candour, idealism, naïveté and blind obedience
Conclusion
CHAPTER NINE  ADDING LAYERS OF PAINT: THE HIGHLIGHTS OF WORLD VIEW
Introduction
Emerging Discourses and Perspectives
World View
“(Cow)Boys don’t cry”: Masculinity
“She belongs to me”: Female subjugation and survival
Conclusion
CHAPTER TEN  THE PAINTING’S FINAL FORM: CONCLUSION
Introduction
Research Findings
Implications of the Findings
Limitations of the Study
Future Directions
Conclusion
POST-SCRIPT
REFERENCES ..
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