Theories of Violent Conflict: An Introduction (Paperback) book cover

Theories of Violent Conflict

An Introduction

By Jolle Demmers

© 2012 – Routledge

158 pages

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Paperback: 9780415555340
pub: 2012-05-24
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Hardback: 9780415555333
pub: 2012-05-24
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About the Book

This textbook introduces students of violent conflict to a variety of prominent theoretical approaches, and examines the ontological stances and epistemological traditions underlying these approaches.

Theories of Violent Conflict takes the centrality of the group as an actor in contemporary conflict as a point of departure, leaving us with three main questions:

  1. What makes a group?
  2. Why and how does a group resort to violence?
  3. Why and how do or don’t they stop?

The book examines and compares the ways by which these questions are addressed from a number of perspectives: constructivism, social identity theory, structuralism, political economy, human needs theory, relative deprivation theory, collective action theory, and rational-choice theory. The final chapter aims to synthesise structure and agency-based theories by proposing a critical discourse analysis of violent conflict.

This book will be essential reading for students of war and conflict studies, peace studies, conflict analysis and conflict resolution, and ethnic conflict, as well as security studies and IR in general.


'Theories of Violent Conflict is a delight to read. It has a depth and an intellectual passion that students will find very attractive. It is both approachable and straightforward, and yet penetrating and theoretically rich.' -- Hugh Miall, University of Kent, UK

'Theories of Violent Conflict is a book of remarkable scope that will prove invaluable to academia, government and policy circles, and practitioners of conflict resolution and peacebuilding. … Demmers deftly and insightfully guides the reader through a rigorous journey of comparative analysis, elucidating the theoretical underpinnings and practical implications of the major approaches that seek to explain contemporary world conflicts.' -- Jerry W. Sanders, University of California, Berkeley, USA

'Jolle Demmers has produced a timely, comprehensive and richly interwoven account of the main theories underpinning our understanding of conflict and chronic insecurity. Lucidly written and explained, from identity through culture and global governance, to rational choice and discourse analysis, Demmers effortlessly brings order and insight to an otherwise fragmented field. Widely referenced and clearly structured, Theories of Violent Conflict is an essential and authoritative guide for students, academics and the concerned public alike.' -- Mark Duffield, University of Bristol, UK

Table of Contents

Introduction: Conflict Analysis in Context 1. Identity, Boundaries and Violence 2. On Love and Hate: Social Identity Approaches to Inter-Group Violence 3. Violence and Structures 4. Mobilization for Collective Action: Multi-Causal Approaches 5. Rational Choice Theory: The Costs and Benefits of War 6. Telling Each Other Apart: A Discursive Approach to Violent Conflict Conclusions

About the Author

Jolle Demmers obtained her PhD in 1999 at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. In 1999, she co-founded the Centre for Conflict Studies (CCS), an interdisciplinary research and training centre at the Faculty of Humanities at Utrecht University, where she currently holds the position of Associate Professor.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / Civil Rights
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / International Security