CSCW Working Groups

Social Dynamics of Civil War (2011–2012)
Led by Jeffrey Checkel
Utilizing various theoretical, methodological and disciplinary perspectives, our task is to explore the social dynamics of civil war, including norms, emotions, discourses, identity, social networks, narratives and gender. Can we shed new light on enduring questions related to civil conflict – agency and motives, group mobilization, post-conflict peacebuilding – by thinking of the social in new and different ways? Are there research programmes, bodies of theory or methodological tools on social dynamics in other contexts that can teach us something new about civil wars?
Microfoundations of Civil War (2003–2012)
Led by Jon Elster
Focusing on the individual decisions that lead to the initiation, continuation or cessation of civil war, this working group seeks to identify how root causes of civil war shape the motivations and constraints of individual action. Centrally important is what one might call the ‘hermeneutic problem’ of identifying motivations of leaders and followers in insurgency movements. How to impute motivations when statements about motivation may themselves be motivated? The group will look at the role religion plays in civil war, and it will study belief formation more generally in a civil war setting.
Environmental Factors in Civil War (2003–2012)
Led by Nils Petter Gleditsch (03-08) & Halvard Buhaug (09-12)
This group defines the environment in the broad sense of physical factors that condition human affairs, such as distance, mountains, rivers, forest cover and availability of natural resources. Environmental factors play an important role in assessing neomalthusian vs. ‘cornucopian’ theories of conflict. What are the effects of resource scarcity and abundance? Is climate change associated with conflict? What role does cooperation play vs. conflict in a situation of scarcity? We also consider the demographic aspect of neomalthusian concerns, as well as ethnic distinctions as potential causes of conflict and as convenient ways of organizing conflicts.
Civil Conflict and Economic Performance (2003–2012)
Led by Karl Ove Moene
This working group aims at integrating the effect of conflicts on economic performance and the role of economic conditions for the onset of conflicts within formal economic models. This is an important challenge. It implies a widening of the scope of economics to integrate social issues and things that really matter. The group’s research agenda is built on an implicit criticism of technocratic mainstream economics for its lack of a coherent treatment of conflicts and neglect of social mechanisms. In contrast, this group tries to make a case for analysis that combines social and economic factors while acknowledging their interdependence. The working group is a ‘joint venture’ of CSCW and of the Centre of Excellence at the University of Oslo on Equality, Social Organization, and Performance (ESOP).
Values and Violence (2003–2012)
Led by Ola Listhaug
Our study of values, attitudes and public opinion looks at violent societies and generally peaceful societies, as well as countries undergoing a transition away from violence. The main aim is to demonstrate if and how values are related to violence in societies. One important empirical focus is the impact of religion, but we also study tolerance, trust, prejudice and respect for human rights, and how these values vary between countries and relate to conflicts between groups within societies. In postwar societies, we study values to assess the strength of latent conflict.
Civil Peace (2003–2012)
Scott Gates (03-06) & Kaare Strøm (07-12)
The main aim of this group is to explore the conditions that constitute and promote civil peace. This entails analysing the processes of conflict resolution as well as the social, economic and political conditions that lead to civil peace. To better understand long-term peacebuilding, we focus on the development of institutions that can serve to mitigate or supplant the conditions that cause and sustain armed civil conflict, for instance transitional governance, transitional justice and various forms of power-sharing.
Human Rights, Governance and Conflict (2008–2012)
Sabine Carey
Conflict and human rights violations are closely intertwined. During a civil war, torture and political killings are particularly common. But, governing structures also affect the respect shown by governments for the human rights of their citizens and influence the dynamics of conflict. This working group aims to disentangle the triangular relationship between human rights, governance and conflict. We focus on the role of human rights and governing structures during the escalation of conflict, their contribution to the severity and duration of conflict, and their role in establishing a viable and secure peace after the cessation of warfare. Our research pays particular attention to the interaction between the agents of violence, the harm civilians incur during conflict and the mediating role of political institutions.
Dynamics of Institutional Change and Conflict (2008–2012)
Håvard Hegre
This working group studies the interplay of the processes of civil war onset and termination, changes to political institutions, and the societal changes brought about by ‘modernization’. These changes have closely related explanations. Democracies fail to prevent conflict in the developing world in part because they are vulnerable to reversals to authoritarian rule – often by means of violence. Similarly, democratization is a political conflict that sometimes turns violent. Socio-economic factors affect strategies and goals of the parties to the political conflict. At the same time, political stability affects societal changes. The group brings together specialists on different aspects of this nexus, and also seeks to identify institutions that may lift countries out of the ‘conflict trap’.
Governance and Peace (2003–2006)
Kaare Strøm
Governance structures typically affect the outbreak as well as the resolution of armed conflict and civil war. This Working Group explores the mechanisms through which democratic institutions engender peace either by preventing conflict in the first place or by facilitating its resolution. More specifically, we examine the different pathways of political transformation. Are certain institutional structures more conducive to peaceful democratization than others? And what institutional arrangements are more prone to groups taking up arms in opposition to the state?
Cross-cutting Activities (2003–2012)
Halvard Buhaug [MORE?]