Title

Culture and Conflict: Understanding, Negotiating, and Reconciling Conflicting Constructions of Reality

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2005

Journal/Book Title/Conference

International Journal of Intercultural Relations

Volume

29

Issue

6

Publisher

Elsevier

First Page

651

Last Page

673

DOI

10.1016/j.ijintrel.2005.07.012

Abstract

The paper explores the relations between culture and conflict that emerge when parties with differingconstructions of reality come into contention regardingthe distribution of power, control, and influence. While differences in the construction of reality do not necessarily mean conflict, and while conflict does not necessarily lead to violence, differences in the construction of reality that are codified and embedded in ‘‘unassailable’’ belief systems, such as those associated with fundamentalist political, economic, and religious systems, can elicit and sustain serious forms of violence, including ethnic and religious cleansing, genocide, and torture. This paper argues that we must recognize the power of culture in constructingour realities, and the reluctance we have as human beings to tolerate challenges to these realities because they introduce unacceptable levels of uncertainty and doubt. The consideration of culture in the mediation of conflict broadens options for resolution by introducing possibilities outside the limits of one’s own cultural spectrum, includingan improved understanding of the role of history and life contexts in generating shared meanings and behavior patterns. Followinga discussion of various examples of cultures in conflict associated with political and religious fundamentalism, the paper advances a series of recommendations for understanding, negotiating, and mediating conflict via the use of cultural understanding, learning, and the development of cultures of peace.

Comments

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