Intractable Conflict as an Attractor: Presenting a Dynamical-Systems Approach to Conflict, Escalation, and Intractability

30 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2007 Last revised: 28 Dec 2007

See all articles by Peter T. Coleman

Peter T. Coleman

Columbia University - Teachers' College

Robin Vallacher

Florida Atlantic University

Andrzej Nowak

University of Warsaw - Institute for Social Studies

Lan Bui-Wrzosinska

University of Warsaw

Date Written: 2007

Abstract

Decades of research on social conflict have contributed to our understanding of a wide variety of psychological, social, and community-based aspects of conflict escalation and intractability. However, the field has yet to put forth a theoretical model that links these components to the basic underlying structures and dynamics that account for intractability and transformation. This paper presents a dynamical-systems approach to conceptualizing intractable conflict - as a preliminary step toward developing a basic theory of intractability. We propose that it is particularly useful to conceptualize ongoing, destructive patterns of conflict as strong attractors: a particular form of self-organization of multiple elements of conflict systems. Our dynamical approach to conflict intractability is outlined, and some preliminary implications of this approach for conflict de-escalation are discussed.

Keywords: intractable conflict, protracted conflict, dynamical systems

Suggested Citation

Coleman, Peter T. and Vallacher, Robin and Nowak, Andrzej and Bui-Wrzosinska, Lan, Intractable Conflict as an Attractor: Presenting a Dynamical-Systems Approach to Conflict, Escalation, and Intractability (2007). IACM 2007 Meetings Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1066810 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1066810

Peter T. Coleman (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Teachers' College ( email )

525 W. 120th St.
New York, NY 10027
United States

Robin Vallacher

Florida Atlantic University ( email )

Boca Raton, FL 33431
United States

Andrzej Nowak

University of Warsaw - Institute for Social Studies ( email )

Stawki 5/7
Warsaw, 00 183
Poland

Lan Bui-Wrzosinska

University of Warsaw ( email )

Krakowskie Przedmiescie 26/28
Warszawa, Pl-00681
Poland

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