International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution

Article

Pondering over “Participation” as an Ethics of Conflict Resolution Practice

Leaning towards the “Soft Side of Revolution”

Keywords participation, structural violence, narrative compression, master-counter narratives
Authors Sara Cobb en Alison Castel
Author's information

314497 Sara Cobb
Dr. Sara Cobb is the Drucie French Cumbie Chair at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR) at George Mason University. She is also the Director of the Center for the Study of Narrative and Conflict Resolution at S-CAR that provides a hub for scholarship on narrative approaches to conflict analysis and resolution. Dr. Cobb is widely published and a leader in narrative approaches to conflict resolution.

314500 Alison Castel
Dr. Alison Castel is faculty at the University of Colorado, Boulder where she teaches the core curriculum in Peace and Conflict Studies for the International Affairs program and is the Associate Director of the CU in DC internship program. She holds a Ph.D from the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR) at George Mason University, and is an affiliate of the Center for Narrative and Conflict Resolution at S-CAR.
  • Abstract

      “Participation” has been defined as the engagement of local populations in the design and implementation of peace-building processes in post-conflict settings and it has been presumed to be critically important to sustainable conflict intervention. In this article, we explore this concept, so central to the field of conflict resolution, focusing on a set of problematic assumptions about power and social change that undergird it. As a remedy to these issues, we offer a narrative as a lens on the politics of participation. This lens thickens our description of our own participation as interveners, a reflexive move that is notably missing in most efforts to redress the dark side of “participation” – that it has often been used as a means to upend structural violence, only to contribute to its reproduction. Drawing on the work of Ginwright, specifically his work with black youth in Oakland, CA, we explore participation as a process involving the critical examination of master/counternarratives. By offering a narrative lens on participation, we hope to illuminate a framework for the ethics of conflict resolution practice that enables practitioners to ethically navigate the politics of “participation.”

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