CSCW Working Groups

CSCW was organized into eleven working groups:

Social Dynamics of Civil War


Utilizing various theoretical, methodological and disciplinary perspectives, our task is to explore the social dynamics of civil war, including norms, emotions, discourses, identity, social networks, narratives, and gender. Can we shed new light on enduring questions related to civil conflict – agency and motives, group mobilization, post-conflict peace building – by thinking of the social in new and different ways? Are there research programs, bodies of theory, or methodological tools on social dynamics in other contexts that can teach us something new about civil wars?

Microfoundations of Civil War


Focusing on the individual decisions that lead to the initiation, continuation or cessation of civil war, we seek to identify how root causes of civil war shape the motivations and constraints of individual action. Centrally important is what one might call the ‘hermeneutic problem’ of identifying motivations of leaders and followers in insurgency movements. How to impute motivations when statements about motivation may themselves be motivated? The group will look at what role religion plays in civil war, and it will study belief formation more generally in a civil war setting

Environmental Factors in Civil War


This group defines the environment in the broad sense of physical factors that condition human affairs, such as distance, mountains, rivers, forest cover, and availability of natural resources. Environmental factors play an important role in assessing neomalthusian vs. ‘cornucopian’ theories of conflict. What are the effects of resource scarcity and abundance? Is climate change associated with conflict? What role does cooperation play vs. conflict in a situation of scarcity? We also consider the demographic aspect of the neomalthusian concerns, as well as ethnic distinctions as potential causes of conflict and as convenient ways of organizing conflicts.

Human Rights, Governance and Conflict


Conflict and human rights violations are closely intertwined. During a civil war, torture and political killings are particularly common. But governing structures also affect the respect of governments for the human rights of their citizens. This working group aims to disentangle the triangular relationship between human rights, governance, and conflict. In particular, we focus on the role of human rights and governing structures during the escalation of conflict, their contribution to the severity and duration of conflict, and their role in establishing a viable and secure peace after the  cessation of warfare.

Conflict and Economic Performance


This working group aims at integrating the role of conflicts for economic performance and the role of economic conditions for the onset of conflicts within formal economic models. This is an important challenge. It implies a widening of the scope of economics to integrate social issues and things that really matter. The group’s research agenda is built on an implicit criticism of technocratic mainstream economics for its lack of a coherent treatment of conflicts and neglect of social mechanisms. In contrast, this group tries to make a case for analysis that combines social and economic factors while acknowledging their interdependence. The working group is a ‘joint venture’ of CSCW and of the centre of excellence at the University of Oslo on Equality, Social Organization, and Performance (ESOP).

Values and Violence


Our study of values, attitudes, and public opinion looks at violent societies and generally peaceful societies as well as countries undergoing a transition away from violence. The main aim is to demonstrate if and how values are related to violence in societies. One important empirical focus is the impact of religion, but we also study tolerance, trust, prejudice, and respect for human rights and how these values vary between countries and relate to conflicts between groups within societies. In post-war societies we study values to assess the strength of latent conflict.

Civil Peace


The main aim of this group is to explore the conditions that constitute and promote civil peace. This entails analyzing the processes of conflict resolution as well as the social, economic, and political conditions that lead to civil peace. To better understand long-term peace building, we focus on the development of institutions that can serve to mitigate or supplant the conditions that cause and sustain armed civil conflict, for instance by transitional governance, transitional justice and various ways of power-sharing.

The Dynamics of Institutional Change and Conflict

 DICC, bratislava mini

This working group studies the interplay of the processes of civil war onset and termination, changes to political institutions, and the societal changes brought about by ‘modernization’. These changes have closely related explanations. Democracies fail to prevent conflict in the developing world in part because they are vulnerable to reversals to authoritarian rule – often by means of violence. Similarly, democratization is a political conflict that sometimes turns violent. Socio-economic factors affect strategies and goals of the parties to the political conflict. At the same time, political stability affects societal changes. The group brings together specialists on different aspects of this nexus, and also seeks to identify institutions that may lift countries out of the ‘conflict trap’.
Transnational and International Facets of Civil War
International Dimensions of Civil War
Governance and Peace
Cross-cutting Activities
Cross-cutting Activities encourage a conscious focus on a variety of disciplines and methods on issues that do not fit easily with one group alone.

Data management is one major cross-cutting issue. CSCW is a significant user of data on conflict and explanatory variables. We will also collect our own data, contributing to the creation of better and more nuanced conflict data on the basis of definitional critiques and innovation.