Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 12, Iss. 1, January, 2008, pp. 87-115
@2008 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


Violent Societies: An Application of Orbital Decomposition to the Problem of Human Violence

M. Spohn, University of Denver

Abstract: This study uses orbital decomposition to analyze the patterns of how governments lose their monopolies on violence, therefore allowing those societies to descend into violent states from which it is difficult to recover. The nonlinear progression by which the governing body loses its monopoly is based on the work of criminologist Lonnie Athens and applied from the individual to the societal scale. Four different kinds of societies are considered: Those where the governing body is both unwilling and unable to assert its monopoly on violence (former Yugoslavia); where it is unwilling (Peru); where it is unable (South Africa); and a smaller pocket of violent society within a larger, more stable one (Gujarat). In each instance, orbital decomposition turns up insights not apparent in the qualitative data or through linear statistical analysis, both about the nature of the descent into violence and about the progression itself.

Keywords: violence, violent societies, symbolic dynamics, orbital decomposition, entropy, fractal dimension, politics