Structural Violence in Texas Counties: An Ethical Problem with Uncontroversial Policy Solutions


  • Robert Winn M.D.
  • Dennis Patterson Texas Tech University


When we think about violence in America, it is usually the tragic images of mass shootings that come to mind. These are horrific events that take the lives of Americans all too often, and, in spite of generating universal revulsion among Americans, they appear to resist any hope of a policy solution because of how this problem sits directly on the broad and deep partisan divide that currently characterizes American politics. This destructive, kinetic type of violence is not alone in causing Americans to suffer premature death because there is another type of violence that is less noticeable and much less likely to capture the full attention of the media or the policy process. This is nonetheless an insidious kind of violence that is very lethal and is known as structural violence, which is a social pathology that manifests itself in the premature death of numerous Americans whose misfortunes stem only from the fact that they do not have equal access to quality health care, a safe environment, and those other opportunities that allow them to live a complete and fulfilling life. We demonstrate the widespread lethality associated with structural violence by examining life expectancies of residents of Texas

Author Biographies

Robert Winn M.D.

Director, VCU Massey Cancer Center

Dennis Patterson, Texas Tech University

Professor of Political Science Executive Director for Academic Programs Texas Tech University Satellite Campuses


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