Socio-Psychological Analysis of Conflict-Supporting Narratives: A General Framework
Journal of Peace Research, 51 (5) 662-675, 2014
14 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2017
Date Written: June 25, 2014
Societies involved in intractable conflicts form conflict-supporting narratives that illuminate and justify their inter- group conflicts. These narratives play an important role in satisfying the basic sociopsychological needs of the involved individuals and collectives. In order to fulfill this role the narratives tend to be biased in favor of the in- group, selective, distorting and simplistic. This article analyzes such narratives that focus on the following major themes: Justification and Threats (of conflict), Delegitimization (of the opponent), Glorification and Victimhood (of the in-group), the in-group’s need for Patriotism and Unity, and its Aspiration for Peace. Additionally, the article describes the individual and collective functions of these narratives. It also describes six main methods that are used in the narratives’ construction: reliance on supportive sources, marginalization of contradictory information, magnifi- cation of supportive themes, fabrication of supportive contents, omission of contradictory contents, and use of fram- ing language. Because conflict-supporting narratives are so functional, the involved societies struggle to support their dominance within their own society as well as in the international community. This article, therefore, presents seven methods that are used by the parties in their intrasocietal struggles – control of access to information, censorship, discre- diting of contradicting information, monitoring, punishment, encouragement and rewarding, and closure of archives. Similar methods are used in the international arena struggles. Finally, it describes the process of change from adherence to the conflict-supportive narratives to the construction of new peace-supporting narratives and adherence to them.
Keywords: collective memory, culture of conflict, ethos of conflict, ethos of peace, intractable conflict, narratives, peacebuilding, reconciliation
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