Department 'Integration and Conflict'

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Research Programme

Social actors, both groups and individuals, are integrated into social systems. This integration can happen by identification with others or by stressing differences with them and developing complementary relations. Also violent conflicts can be regarded as such social systems. Opponents may emulate each other’s strategies and symbols, or they may respond to each other with new, unanticipated strategies which may disregard rules of conduct and with which the other party cannot cope. In both cases one can speak of systemic integration.
Key concepts for the department's approach to integration and conflict are therefore the construction of identity and difference. These construction processes can be observed in different domains: kinship, friendship, language and history – commonly amalgamated to various forms of ‘ethnicity’ – and adherence to various complexes of rituals and beliefs, including corporate ‘religions’ in the modern sense. How decisions between alternative identifications are taken is modelled at the individual and supra-individual levels.

The department aims at worldwide comparisons.

Fields of practical application comprise, among others, conflict mediation and development policy advice.


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