Understanding the Nature of Intractable Conflict through Dynamical Systems Theory (Vallacher, Coleman, Nowak, and Bui-Wrzosinska)
By Juliette de WolfeAbstract
Intractable conflicts are demoralizing. Beyond destabilizing the families, communities, or international regions in which they occur, they tend to perpetuate the very conditions of misery and hate that contributed to them in the first place. Although the common factors and processes associated with intractable conflicts have been identified through research, they represent an embarrassment of riches for theory construction. Thus, the current task in this area is integrating these diverse factors into an account that provides a coherent perspective, yet allows for prediction and a basis for conflict resolution in specific conflict settings. We suggest that the perspective of dynamical systems provides such an account. This article outlines the key concepts and hypotheses associated with this approach. It is organized around a set of basic questions concerning intractable conflict for which the dynamical perspective offers fresh insight and testable propositions. The questions and answers are intended to provide readers with basic concepts and principles of complexity and dynamical systems that are useful for rethinking the nature of intractable conflict and the means by which such conflict can be transformed.
Vallacher, R., Coleman, P. T., Nowak, A., Bui-Wrzosinska, L. (2010). Rethinking intractable conflict: The perspective of dynamical systems. American Psychologist.