CONFLICT RESOLUTION THEORY - ` C O N F L I C T R E S O LU T I O N T H E O RY CHAPTER 1 War is the decision to go for victory[rather than resolution

CONFLICT RESOLUTION THEORY - ` C O N F L I C T R E S O...

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`CONFLICT RESOLUTION THEORY - CHAPTER 1 War is the decision to go for victory[rather] than resolution. Peacemaking is an attempt to resolve the sources of the conflict and restore a situation of balance, thereby eliminating the need for victory and defeat. Jim Wallis, The Soul of Politics: A Practical and Prophetic Vision of Change, London: Fount, 1994, p. 205. Chapter 1 Introduction to Conflict Resolution 1.1 The History of ‘Needs-based’ Conflict Resolution ‘Needs-based’, ‘cooperation-based’ [1] or ‘interest-based’ conflict resolution (hereafter referred to as conflict resolution) developed as a discipline following World War II. [2] Conflict resolution as a discipline diverged from power-based conflict theory, which dominated and still dominates political science, and international relations; and converged from psychology and sociology, which was interested in group dynamics, motivation and relationships between institutional structures. Normative political theory saw conflict as a competitive struggle to be won by one side. In contrast, needs-based conflict resolution theorists developed a cooperative approach to conflict resolution, focusing on fundamental human needs, [3] to encourage ‘win-win solutions’. [4] Nonviolence, cooperation and the belief in the essential goodness of humanity are basic principles of this approach to conflict resolution [5] The foundations of this discipline have their origins in the Judeo-Christian culture that developed in Europe and North America and were particularly shaped in the twentieth century by the first and second world wars. Principal antecedents of conflict resolution included philosopher and sociologist Georg Simmel (1858-1914) and Gestalt (influential on social
psychology) psychologist Kurt Lewin (1890-1947). Modern conflict resolution scholars, often quote Georg Simmel, for his contribution to the field for his book Conflict, published posthumously in English in 1955. Conflict was originally a chapter of Simmel’s book Soziologie published in German in 1908. Simmel, perceived conflict (kampf) as “designed to resolve divergent dualisms”, that is conflict was designed to resolve two different set of principles. He saw conflict as “way of achieving some kind of unity,” as such Simmel took an optimistic view of conflict. However, despite this optimism, what is often not discussed in standard treatments of Simmel is his perception that this unity may be obtained “even if it be through the annihilation of one of the conflicting parties”. [6] Kurt Lewin’s influence on modern conflict resolution follows his influence in the development of social psychology in the United States. Kurt Lewin’s contribution to conflict resolution and psychology was his emphasis on the role of social context in an individual’s development of perception, values and beliefs. [7] This was in contrast to the normative theory of psychology prior to the 1930s, which still heavily favoured biological determinism.

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