Sociology of reconciliation: Learning from comparing violent conflicts and reconciliation processes

Journal article

Trimikliniotis, Nicos (2013) Sociology of reconciliation: Learning from comparing violent conflicts and reconciliation processes, Current Sociology 61 (2): 244–264.

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This article aims at drawing on sociological insights into reconciliation processes which emerge out of ethnic, national and state conflicts. First, the concept of reconciliation is interrogated as an instrument for sociological enquiry. The article locates the concept’s lexical origins in western/northern Christian traditions and identifies the usages of religious connotations in secularised strands of conflict resolution theory and praxis. While acknowledging the problems involved in assuming a conceptual universality, the basic meaning of the concept is located in many different historical, religious and secular traditions across the globe. Once overcoming Christiano-centric and western/northern biases and limitations, reconciliation can be retrieved and operationalised as a sociological concept for understanding and comparing ethnically and other deeply divided societies. Second, the article argues for further development of sociological comparative perspectives on how societies deal with violent and divisive past, which enhances academic knowledge and may impact policy as regards reconciliation processes, both in terms of understanding the past as well as dealing with the present and future of post-conflict societies. A sociology of conflict and reconciliation offers frames for transferring knowledge and experience that transcends simplistic assumptions and enriches understanding of the complexities of conflict and its transformations.

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