Studying conflict and studying peace: one and the same?

The study of “[violent] conflict” and the study of “peace” are often seen as two sides of the same analytic coin. Those who study the causes and dynamics of violent conflict, it is assumed, do so to facilitate understandings of how such conflict can be managed peacefully. Conversely, it is assumed those who study peace and/or practise peacebuilding base their work on a thorough understanding of how and why conflict might turn violent.

Despite the promise of symbiosis, however, there has long been a suspicion that, in practice, there is actually little intellectual exchange between studies of violent conflict, on one hand, and research on peacemaking and peacebuilding, on the other.

In this project, we explore whether that is indeed the case. To do so, we conduct a bibliometric survey (based on manual and automatic coding) in order to answer two questions: 1) As a sub-discipline, what do we study - peace and/or violence? 2) Do studies of conflict processes engage with (and cite) studies of conflict responses, and vice versa?

John Gledhill
Associate Professor of Global Governance
Jonathan Bright
Oxford Internet Institute