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
Date Written: 2007
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
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