Article

Conflict Escalation

Richard Bösch

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of International Studies


Published online November 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780190846626 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190846626.013.82

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Even though most conflicts in everyday life manifest themselves as cursory bagatelles, there are conflicts that end up in situations of organized, collective violence (e.g., armed conflict). To understand how trivial contradictions can become meaningful conflicts in a broader societal context, it is crucial to examine the process of conflict escalation. Conflict escalation can be understood as an intensification of a conflict with regard to the observed extent and the means used. An escalating conflict represents a developing social system in its own right, having the legitimization of violence as a key feature. Here, a broader social science perspective on the concept of conflict escalation is offered, outlining its intellectual history, explaining its major perspectives and current emphases, and exploring newer avenues in approaching social conflict.

Keywords: conflict escalation; violence; Peace and Conflict Studies; conflict; social science; legitimization of violence; intensification of conflict

Article.  12152 words. 

Subjects: Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution

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