Theory platform D Conflict

Conflict can be understood as a form of societalization, which means that conflicts develop a socially integrative function by renegotiating social norms, values and structures. In contrast, concepts from game theory emphasize the tendency in conflicts towards escalation, which can lead to disintegration. In both cases, conflicts are seen as an important engine of social change. Theory platform D examines the extent to which religion acts as a genuine factor of conflict, and influences the structure of conflicts in a specific way.

The distinction in conflict theory between conflicts of value or recognition and conflicts of interest seems helpful here. While conflicting material interests can be reconciled by sharing the contested goods, symbolic goods such as honour and social identity, and the recognition of ultimate values and truths of faith are mostly regarded as non-negotiable by the participants.

The overlaying of various factors of conflict usually intensifies the conflicts, and gives the parties to the conflict a lever for influencing the distribution of power, ownership and recognition. Such reflections from conflict theory are of central interest for the question pursued here concerning the dynamic potency of religion.

Theory platform D Conflict builds on research carried out in the past funding phases (2007-2018) as part of the then field of research D Violence.