Institution Centred Conflict Research - the method and its application in Afghanistan, Central Asia, the Caucasus, Mexico, Peru and Burundi
In this course we introduce the theoretical basis and methodological approach of institution centred conflict research (ICCR) and its application in different countries. The methodology is based on the nexus between conflict and institutions; it serves as heuristic tool to analyse dynamics of social order. In the case studies the focus is often on social dynamics under rather unstable institutional framework conditions, i.e. in areas of intervened, fragile, defunct or emerging statehood.
We treat conflicts and institutions as empirically observable social phenomena; all societies have to deal with conflicts and are defined by the collective rules they establish. Conflict can disrupt established relations and fragment society; at the same time conflict can form and connect societal units and enable the dynamic adaptation of social order. Institutional rules that inform social interaction can be followed or broken. Sets of rules can contradict each other. Furthermore, institutions and their distributive consequences for actors can be questioned and contested.
Hence, there is a strong though ambivalent relationship between the two social phenomena - conflicts make and break institutions; institutions cause and contain conflicts. ICCR builds on a working concept of conflict consolidated with an institution-centred theory of social order.
Based on this theoretical foundation we introduce a research methodology to assess social order via the analysis of communal conflict processing. This approach is divided into four distinct modules of empirical investigation: historic and geographical context, actors' constellations, material and immaterial resources aimed at or used in conflict and, finally, formal and informal institutional rules regulating conflicts or targeted by conflict.
Each module is based on the theoretical framework of institution-centred conflict research and focuses on specific constraints that inform actors' choices in conflict.
To date this institution-centred methodology of conflict analysis has been used to analyze sub-national conflict dynamics in Afghanistan, Central Asia, North- and South Caucasus and Mexiko. Application in Peru and Burundi are in planning.