Conflict Stories

Sarah Cobb

Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

Most of conflict theories come out of IR or social psychology or behavioral economics. Those are fields that have tended to see conflicts pre-existing in the way in which people describe the problems. There are disciplines and traditions that are not based or do not have much affinity with social constructionism. In those fields, those approaches to conflict presume scarcity in terms of resources or even unmet needs. Neither scarce resources or unmet needs attends to the way in which the story is coming from, its life history, how it affects them, and how it affects other people. This is the actual problem in addition to scarce resources and unmet needs. In other words, you can't meet people's needs and anticipate the conflict is going to be transformed. Neither can you reduce the scarcity of the resources or increase the abundance and assume that the conflict is going to be resolved.