Institutions may refer to a part of society, which is based on ethnicity, religion or some other significant feature. Violence tends to occur when one institution relationship with another is characterised by hatred and hostility. For example, the murder of millions of Jews during the World War 2 was due to the Hitler’s hatred towards all Jews. There identity’s were stripped completely and were not seen as humans.
In similarity, human beings usually have moral inhibitions about killing other humans, this changes if the target group is dehumanised so that its members are seen as worthless animals and therefore not worthy of moral consideration. In Rwanda (1994) the murder of 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu extremists are examples of this special form of institutional aggression. Staub (1999) had outlined five stages in the process of genocide that explained how difficult social conditions such as those found in pre-war Germany can hastily escalate into persecution of a particular target group.
The five stages were ; 1- difficult social conditions, 2 – Scapegoating of a less powerful group, 3 – Negative evaluation and dehumanisation of the target group, 4 – Moral values and rules becoming inapplicable which leads to the killings, and 5 – The passivity of bystanders who just watch over the process. Furthermore, in the Rwandan genocide, the influential Hutu-controlled ‘hate’ radio station encouraged Hutu listeners to murder their Tutsi neighbours by referring the minority as ‘Cockroaches’.
However, Milgram believed that the Holocaust was primarily the result of situational pressures that forced Nazi soldiers to obey their leaders regardless of any personal moral hatred. He argued so many participants in his study could administer painful electric shocks to a victim simply because they were told to do so by someone in authority. The Nazi’s regime therefore would have no trouble making soldiers kill innocent people.
The common saying was ‘The Nazi extermination of European Jews is the most extreme instance of abhorrent immoral acts carried out by thousands of people in the name of obedience’. Stuab’s model emphasises the importance of bystanders in preventing genocide. ‘Doing nothing ‘appears to basically allow the killing to continue unabated, and even escalate by signalling apathy or consent. Thus, bystander’s intervention necessarily doesn’t end institutional aggression.
Evidence for the consequences of dehumanisation can be seen in many conflicts (Jews in the holocaust, dehumanisation may explain violence against immigrants, seen by some as threats to the social order). Recent research suggests that personality plays an important role in this aspect. Social dominance orientation (SDO) is a personality which predicts social and political attitudes. People who are high in SDO endorse social hierarchies and intergroup inequality.
Esses et al (2008) demonstrated that individuals that have high SDO have a tendency to dehumanise out-group members. To conclude, Mandel rejected Milgrams’s claims as he argues that Milgram’s accounts is ‘monocasual’ (ignores other possible causes) and simply does not match the historical record. For instance, Goldhagen suggested that the main causal in the atrocities was a form of anti- Semitism so deeply entrenched In the German people at the time that they subliminally ignored the deaths of millions of innocent Jews.