In threatened social orders, people lose their trust in familiar processes and in the actions of their fellow man. This does not always have to be seen as something ‘bad’, because for many people, it can open up new possibilities that had previously seemed to be unthinkable. Injustice, insecurity, and deficiencies can suddenly become topics of discussion, and changes can be demanded.
The role of violence in threatened social orders, for instance, is also by all means ambivalent. On the one hand, violence is sometimes used to force people to act. But in some cases, such as that of the Igbo, the explicit renunciation of violence is also recognized as a way of gaining power – in this case, national independence.
Violence also played an important role in another case in the southern United States, where a social order was long maintained in which the white majority possessed a monopoly on violence over a black minority. A particularly brutal instrument of power were lynchings. In the 1940’s, however, the social order in the South was increasingly called into question. As a result, many whites looked for a way to retain their power precisely by denouncing certain forms of violence, such as lynch mobs, and by distancing themselves from them. This example also illustrates how for many African Americans, threats to the South’s social order meant one thing most of all: hope for a better life.