Underpinning ideas of Insight Exchange

Violence is in every town, community and country. Violence is an injustice and is an offence to a person’s dignity, compromising a person’s safety and undermining their wellbeing and the dignity and wellbeing of the people they care for and who care for them.  However violence is preventable and the responsibility for addressing it rests with us all.

Social Responses are the most potent preventative powerful force.

Dr Linda Coates, Centre for Response-Based Practice.

Underpinning ideas of Insight Exchange

Despite the prevalence, violence is largely misunderstood.

Insight Exchange is informed by the ideas of the Centre for Response Based Practice which centres on the following tenets:


1. Humans are best understood as social actors: Individuals respond to one other continuously and orient to one another as social actors with the capacity to choose and respond.

2. Dignity is central to individual and collective well-being: Social interaction is organized largely around dignity. Even small affronts can be met with intense responses. Violence is an affront to dignity, but not all affronts to dignity entail violence.

3. Violence is social and unilateral: Violence is social in that it is committed in specific interactions that involve at least two people. Violence is unilateral in that it entails actions by one person or group against the will and well-being of another person or group.

4. Violence is, with rare exceptions, deliberate: Perpetrators anticipate and work to suppress victims’ resistance. Even so-called “explosive” or “out of control” acts of violence involve deliberate action.

5. Resistance is ever-present: Individuals respond to and resist violence and other forms of injustice. Resistance can be open and direct or subtle and disguised depending on the situation.

6. Social responses are crucial: Victims and offenders are constantly mindful of actual and possible social network and institutional responses. The quality of social responses in cases of violence is closely tied to victim responses, offender strategies, and outcomes in the short and long term.

7. Details of social interaction in context: “A sense of the unique, specific and concrete circumstances of any situation is the first indispensable step to solving the problems posed by that situation” (David Trimble, 1998). Close analysis of social interaction in social-material context is the essential starting point for effective intervention.


8. Fitting Words to Deeds: There are no neutral descriptions. Where there is violence, the question of “which words are fitted to which deeds” is crucial (Danet, 1980, p. 189).

9. Misrepresentation: Verbal deception is central to most forms of violence. This can be strategic (e.g., perpetrators obscure their actions), tactical (e.g., victims conceal their resistance), inadvertent (e.g., professionals use misleading terms), or systemic (e.g., authorities promote ongoing distortions).

10. Four Operations of Language: Language can be used to (a) conceal or reveal violence,
(b) obscure or clarify perpetrator responsibility, (c) conceal or elucidate victim responses and resistance, (d) blame and pathologize, or contest the blaming and pathologizing of victims.

Source: Coates, L. Ph.D., Todd, N. M.Ed. & Wade, A. Ph.D. (2000) (Updated 2019)

Take a tour of the Foundations Guide which outlines the core tenets of response-based practice with a deeper dive into the related ideas on Insight Exchange.

Through Insight Exchange individuals, organisations and communities are invited and supported to reflect on how to respond in ways that uphold dignity and build on safety.

Find out more about the underpinning ideas of Insight Exchange.

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