Social psychology and peacebuilding

Authored by: Shelley McKeown

Routledge Handbook of Peacebuilding

Print publication date:  January  2013
Online publication date:  February  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415690195
eBook ISBN: 9780203068175
Adobe ISBN: 9781135082130


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It is undeniable that intergroup conflict is an important societal issue; it depletes our resources and threatens our survival. Whilst in an ideal world the end of conflict would lead to peace, the course of history has shown that this is unlikely to be the case. Take the Cold War as an example; despite its end a ‘fierce new assertion of nationalism and sovereignty emerged with the result that the world is now threatened by intergroup conflicts based on brutal ethnic, religious, social, cultural, or linguistic strife’ (Boutros-Ghali 1992). Given the maintenance and re-emergence of conflict and the intractability of some such as those in Cyprus and Northern Ireland it is of vital importance to understand how to build peace and improve intergroup relations. Within this chapter I will outline how social psychology has contributed to peacebuilding in terms of understanding and improving intergroup relations, real-world applications and what it still has to offer.

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