New article co-authored by John Gledhill maps divisions in peace and conflict studies

A new article by ODID Associate Professor John Gledhill and Jonathan Bright of the Oxford Internet Institute maps divisions within the discipline of peace and conflict studies.

Scholars in the field have long worried that their discipline is divided – between studies of war and war making, and studies of peace and peacemaking. However, empirical research into the existence, extent, and nature of such a division is scarce.

The authors remedy this by addressing two questions: 1) how is work in the field of peace and conflict studies distributed between its two nominal pillars: ‘peace’ and (violent) ‘conflict’? and 2) to what extent is there communication and exchange between the two sets of studies?

Making use of a unique combination of methods, they find that studies of violence hold a dominant position in the field, although there is also a sizable body of work that explores topics of peace, understood as conflict prevention and/or response. However, they find limited evidence of intellectual exchange between studies of war/making and peace/making. They also find evidence of gendered, regional, and methodological divides.

They argue that such schisms may be preventing scholars of peace and conflict from collectively realizing the founding ontological goal of their discipline, which was to understand the causes of war in order to contribute to an understanding of how conflict can be managed peacefully.

Jonathan Bright and John Gledhill (2018) A Divided Discipline? Mapping Peace and Conflict Studies in International Studies Perspectives, DOI: 10.1093/isp/ekx009