The primary objective of this project is to develop a comprehensive theory on the driving forces of societal transformation.
- Investigate individual political agency through life history interviews
with individuals who performed acts to assist others in situations of radical
- Investigate the influence of role models in non-violent collective
mobilization through a new method that uses graphic illustrations in focus
- Conduct ethnography on the process by which individual acts transform
- Strengthen Norwegian research competence on societal transformation
in conflict contexts through a doctoral position and collaboration with
- Organize a large international conference and a smaller expert workshop
on the driving forces of societal transformation
- Publish ground-breaking research on the driving forces of societal
transformation through publishing 11 academic peer-reviewed articles
- In times of radical uncertainty and flux, how do individual deeds inspire
collective action or lead to new institutional practices in ways that determine
the direction a society takes?
- What can we learn from conflict contexts about
the driving forces of societal transformation?
TRANSFORM studies the small
but often heroic everyday acts of common people who attempt to challenge
dehumanizing trends of exclusion and abuse in violent conflict and civil war.
The project involves a close examination of the origins of individual deeds
in violent conflict, and the process by which these acts encourage collective
action and new institutional practices.
The individual, social and institutional
drivers of transformation have not been studied systematically within one
project, as disciplinary divides often prevent insights on one from informing
research on the others. Thus, the project aims to make a theoretical
contribution to the agency-structure impasse in the social sciences and
humanities - an impasse that hides a fundamental disagreement about
the driving forces of societal transformation.
TRANSFORM combines a
strong social-anthropological and political philosophical curiosity about the
normative aspects of moral acts in situations of radical uncertainty with
empirical research on actual practices and processes during transformative
moments in the history of violent conflict and civil war in Syria, Somalia
and Myanmar. Data collection combines life histories and institutional
ethnography with a new method that uses graphic illustrations in focus group
discussions, and will take place in the three countries and/or among refugee
communities from these countries in the region and in Norway. Collecting
data on the societal impacts of ordinary citizens' moral counter-acts of
empathy, care and protection in conditions of suffering and marginalization,
TRANSFORM aims to make a ground-breaking contribution to the newly
established field of the 'anthropology of the good'.