Complexity, Democratisation and Conflict

Adrian Little

in Democratic Piety

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780748633654
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652709 | DOI:
Complexity, Democratisation and Conflict

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This chapter builds upon the combination of complexity theory and post-structuralism to draw out the implications of complexity for understanding political conflicts. By examining the dynamics of conflict in sites such as Northern Ireland and the Middle East, the argument points to a range of issues that give rise to multiple readings of conflict situations. On this basis, it is important to realise that attempts to reduce conflicts to their simplest components do not necessarily facilitate understanding of the contemporary dynamics of a contested situation. Explanations of different disputes as primarily national, territorial, religious, ethnic, or cultural can help to obscure the interaction of a multiplicity of reasons for a particular conflict. However, rather than merely fusing together some of these explanatory arguments to provide a more comprehensive model, this chapter suggests that varying issues come to the fore in different political contestations.

Keywords: complexity theory; post-structuralism; political conflicts; Northern Ireland; Middle East; conflict situations

Chapter.  11402 words. 

Subjects: Politics

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