Outline and evaluate explanations of institutional aggression

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Outline and evaluate explanations of institutional aggression (25) marks

 Institutional aggression is described as aggression that occurs and becomes the norm in any form of institution. Examples of institutions are schools, offices, hospitals, offices, prisons, police forces, military and terrorist groups. Two models that have been proposed to explain IA are the situational model and the dispositional mode (sometimes called the importational model).

The situational model includes several aspects of the institution and these can include the management style, staff characteristics (gender, age and experience) perceived and real deprivations and environmental factors such as noise, temperature and crowding. This model therefore states that an individual who is not normally aggressive can be made to behave aggressively due to factors within the institution.

Much of the research into the situational model has been carried out in prisons and this model has much support. Sykes 1958 stated that the IA within prisons was due to the deprivations that prisoners were subjected to, he said that deprivations such as loss of autonomy lead to stress and that this stress caused the prisoners to act aggressively. For Sykes aggression was seen as a way of gaining some sense of control over the social order imposed upon them in prisons. This deprivation model could also explain aggression in schools and hospitals where patients and pupils see aggression as a means of exerting some level of autonomy in situations where they feel they have no control e.g. lengthy waiting lists and unfair rules. Another factor that is part of the situation is the style of management. Dilullio 1987 investigated the role of management in IA in prisons and found that much aggression occurred as a direct result of failed management, high staff turnover and lack of discipline amongst staff.  This finding was supported by McCorkle who investigated the relative strengths of the deprivation model and management model in causing aggression in prisons and found that poor management was the stronger factor in leading to aggression. It is possible that the particular aspect of the situational model that applies varies between the different types of institutions. All of these studies can be criticised as they are correlational and therefore a direct cause and effect cannot be proposed. Nonetheless they firmly point to the conclusion that in all institutions management has a strong role in IA.

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Further support for the situational model comes from Folger and Starlicki 1995 who proposed the pop corn model. This was suggested as a result of the finding from prison research that even non-aggressive types can be made to behave aggressively if the situational factors demand it. Zimbardo’s Stanford prison experiment further supports this idea when apparently psychologically normal and amicable individuals behaved violently once placed into a ‘prison’ situation. What all these studies show is that even people who do not value aggression can become aggressive if it is the norm within the institution.

The dispositional or importational model on ...

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Summary Although the writer has covered both situational and dispositional models of institutional aggression, some of the main research on this subject has not been mentioned. Also, some of the work needs to be reworded to avoid being accused of plagiarism. The writer has included quite a lot of very relevant information and would receive a higher score if the work was planned better and written more clearly with more detail. Score 3*